Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Memorable Bearcat Games: Xavier 83 Cincinnati 79

Yesterday's post about Lance Stephenson got me to thinking about this past season. While this wasn't the greatest year for Cincinnati basketball, there sure as hell were some entertaining contests. One in particular was exceptionally great. That game was the Crosstown Shootout. Now I know what some of you are thinking.Why that game happened in December, how you can you wax nostalgic about that? I thought this series was about football games? I thought this was about wins? No to all of those. It's about memorable games, and sometimes the most memorable are the losses. The old poker saying is that you can't remember the hands you win, but you remember with absolute clarity the hands you lost. This is kinda like that too. Plus, like 4 people read what I wrote in December, so this is new to you.

The Crosstown Shootout didn't have as much luster as normally, partially due to a Sunday night start time on a weird station, ESPNU. That didn't stop the teams from putting on an instant classic. I know it was an instant classic, because when it replayed on ESPNU, it said instant classic. Xavier got off to a solid start, jumping out to a 12-5 lead. The Muskies blocked 4 of the first 8 UC shots, 1 by Jamel McLean and Kenny Frease and 2 by Jason Love. As Charles and Kenny say on Inside the NBA, it was a block party and the Bearcats were invited. Xavier scored point 12 at the 14:35 mark, and that's when Cincinnati's defense shut down the Muskies. The Muskies didn't score until the 7 minute mark, 2 free throws by Dante Jackson, and didn't get a field goal until the 6:52 mark. Cincinnati went on a 14 point run during that span, getting buckets by Larry Davis, Deonta Vaughn, a pair of threes by Darnell Wilks, an assist by Wilks to Yancy Gates, and a Lance Stephenson lay up. Xavier closed the half on a 20-7 run of their own, and lead 31-26. Terrell Holloway scored 11 points in that span for the Muskies, getting to the line and drilling threes. The fireworks came in the middle of the half. At the 7 minute mark, Jordan Crawford and Rashad Bishop got into a war of words, both receiving technical fouls. The chippyness helped the Musketeers, as you can see from when they started scoring again. Things got even more high strung with 3:30 to go in the half. Lance Stephenson was driving in for a lay up, when Jason Love gave him a hard foul. It was called intentional. The benches cleared going into the media timeout. Terrell Holloway pushed Ibrahima Thomas away, leading to this
Cooler heads would prevail after, but the tension was underlying the rest of the game.

The second half started where the first half ended, with Xavier in charge. The teams traded buckets, but Xavier held on to their lead, with Cincinnati chipping the lead to 4 a couple of times. The Muskies got a Jason Love lay up, a Frease free throw and a Crawford triple to push the lead to 10. The Bearcats slowly chipped away at the disadvantage, at the under 12, the score was 45-39. A pair for Mark Lyon freebies pushed the lead to 7, 51-44, before Lance Stephenson took over. Stephenson scored a lay up, a three pointer from Vaughn, and pulled down a rebound, drove down court and calmly sank a jumper to tie. Cashmere Wright gave UC the lead on a lay up, followed by a Vaughn lay up for a 4 point lead with 5:44 to go. Cincinnati would go on a cold streak the next 3 minutes, allowing Xavier to go on a 6 point run to take the lead by 2. Rashad Bishop tied the score seconds before Holloway would drive for the Xavier lead. Yancy Gates hit 2 free throws with a minute left to tie. Holloway gave X the lead with 26 seconds left on a jumper. Stephenson hit a jumper for UC with 15 seconds left to tie. Holloway drained the clock, but missed a last second runner. Dante Jackson pulled down the rebound, threw up a shot that fell, and celebrated. But, it was after the buzzer and we went to overtime.

Cincinnati took the early overtime lead by 4. Gates hit a shot, and Lance Stephenson crossed Holloway over badly and hit a step back j. Here's proof.

Nasty wasn't it? Lyons got Xavier back into the game with a jumper and a pair of free throws. Gates and Frease exchanged scores before UC took a 3 point lead on a free throw by Bishop and another silly move by Stephenson. Lance shook the defender, spun, and hit an up and under lay up. Watch.

The video kinda sucks, but the move is still sweet. Deonta Vaughn pulled down a rebound and drove for a lay up, giving UC a 5 point lead with 55 seconds left. Holloway took over. He drew a foul on Vaughn and made both shots. Rashad Bishop had the ball stolen by Love, leading to Holloway getting fouled by Gates going to the rim. Holloway hit both again. Xavier had to foul, and they fouled my best friend Dion Dixon. Dixon calmly nailed both to push the lead back to 3. For some reason unknown to anyone, and completely illogical, Mick Cronin tapped Jaquan Parker off the bench. Parker didn't play any of the second half, or any of the overtime. He had Holloway blow by him earlier in the game and was benched. 19 seconds to go, Holloway has the ball. Of course he drives to the rim. Of course he makes a lay up. Of course he's fouled by Parker. Of course he ties the score. Of course he does. UC had a chance to win. Stephenson missed a step back three, and Dixon missed on a put back. That sent us to double overtime.

Cincinnati jumped out to another lead to start overtime. Cash hit a free throw, followed by a Vaughn lay up. Holloway scored for Xavier, but Gates scored on a lay up to push the lead back to 3. Xavier would tie the score thanks to sloppy play by UC. Crawford hit a free throw, followed by a Gates travel. On the Xavier possession, Love made a lay up for the tie. Stephenson would get called for a charge, but X couldn't take the lead. UC held the ball the next minute, but were unable to score. Vaughn missed a lay up, foreshadow, and Steve Toyloy bricked a couple of huge free throws. Holloway drove down the lane and dropped off a pass that Love converted for the Xavier lead. Lance Stephenson played really hard and smart in this game, but he made a silly move with about 25 seconds left. Instead of circling back out and making a strong move with the ball, he passed to Dixon. Dixon threw up a horribly ill advised three that was a brick leaving his hand. He fouled Dante Jackson, who made 1 of 2. Vaughn took the inbound pass and decided to go for the lay up to cut the Muskie lead to 1. Great plan, but terrible execution, as he blew a wide open lay up. Love got the rebound, his 19th of the game, and iced things with a free throw. Desperate threes by UC missed, and that lead to this vomit inducing photo.
Ok, I couldn't find the real picture, but Mick looking like he's taking a dump will do. This was a wild game. Stephenson and Yancy Gates dominated for UC. Stephenson had 22 on 9-19 shooting, with 6 rebounds. Gates had 18 and 6. Vaughn was the other Bearcat in double digits with 13, but he was 6-19. He did have 9 rebounds. Holloway had a career high 26 for Xavier, while Crawford put up 16 on 5-16 shooting.

This wasn't the prettiest Crosstown Shootout, despite the pretty moves by Stephenson. X shot 41%, and UC 37%, but this was the game that brought the intensity back out. This was a blood and guts Crosstown Shootout. We had pull aparts, hard fouls, trash talking, big shots, clutch moments, and breakout performances. Unfortunately, it was a UC loss. But, it was one hell of a game, and that's why it's a Memorable Bearcat game.

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