Musketeers Pick Up Fifth Straight Win Over Bearcats

                                        (Photo by Noah Garel)

By Ryan Roberts and Tim Daniel


Xavier came into tonight's annual Crosstown Shootout at the Cintas Center in dire need of a victory.


Coming into the game with three straight losses, and facing a 7-0 Bearcat team, momentum did not look to be on their side, but if you told the Cintas faithful, they wouldn't believe you. Of course the game had the moment we all expected, a physical altercation between both sides. But this time it wasn't even two minutes in the game between transfers Abou Ousmane and Aziz Bandago. 


Bandaogo would be limited to just 2 points, 5 rebounds in the first half.

 (Photo: Noah Garel)

Xavier switched up their starting lineup in the game going with Lazar Djokovic over Gytis Nemeiksa. Djokovic got the first basket of the game but didn't score the remainder of the half in 12 minutes played. Xavier did get solid play from their big men through the half with Sasa Ciani and Ousmane giving the Musketeers big minutes combining for nine points on 4/6 shooting along with nine rebounds.


Cincinnati big man Vik Lakhin entered the game averaging 15 ppg, 8.4 rpg on 61.8 percvent shooting from the field but Xavier's front court limited a frustrated Lakhin to 2 points, 4 rebounds in the first half.


The big thing for the Musketeers was Grad Transfer Dayvion McKnight coming up huge for the Musketeers with nine points and 7 rebounds. Desmond Claude continued his strong play with six points, three rebounds, two assists and most importantly, zero turnovers.


The Bearcats struggled a bit offensively in the first half with multiple lengthy scoreless stretches and a strong reliability for the three-pointer despite shooting 1/13 from deep and attempting just three free-throws. Jizzle James was the Bearcats bright spot scoring 14 points on 6/10 shooting in 13 minutes played.

 (Photo: Noah Garel)

Xavier took a 35-27 lead going into the half.


John Neman and Day Day Thomas opened the second half with finishes at the rim and Vik Lahkin answered a Xavier three pointer with a wing three of his own to cut the X lead to 38-34 just 2 minutes in to the half.


John Newman capped off a 9-2 Cincinnati run with a dunk in traffic and Sean Miller called a timeout as their halftime lead had been cut to 38-36 at the 17:44 mark of the second half.


 (Photo: Noah Garel)

Cincinnati would use a 6-of-7 showing from the field and 10 points in the paint to take a 41-40 lead at the first media stop of the second half. Aziz Bandaogo's free throw with 16:10 left in the half gave UC their first lead of the game. 


Cincinnati took a brief 43-40 lead after Ody Oguama threw down a dunk over an X defender but the Muskies rallied and used a 12-4 run to take a 5 point lead, 52-47, with 12:44 remaining in the game. 


X made three consecutive field goals during a 7-0 run that was capped off by a Quincy Olivari 3. 


John Newman stopped a 10-0 Xavier run with a 3 to cut the X lead to 57-50 at the under 12 media timeout. Through the first 9:23 of the second half, Olivari had poured in 12 points on a perfect 4-of-4 showing from deep.


Olivari extended the X lead to 63-54 with a rare 4 point play after making a 3 and being fouled by CJ Fredrick on the attempt. Dailyn Swain extended the lead to 67-56 on a transition lay up after Jizzle James had the ball stolen from him.


With 7:27 remaining in the game, UC was in trouble,  trailing by 11 and Xavier seemingly making everything from the field. 


Needing some momentum, the Bearcats answered the Xavier run with an 8-0 run of their own to cut the X lead to 68-64 with 4:45 remaining in the game. The Bearcats made 3 consecutive field goals during the run while limiting X without a field goal for over 3 minutes.


Trailing 70-66 with 3:17 remaining, Cincinnati forced Xavier in to a bad shot which led to a UC rebound and attempt to get out and run in transition. Aziz Bandaogo was then called for a travel going to the rim which halted the UC momentum. 


The Bearcats would never get closer. 


Dayvion McKnight extended the lead to 75-69 with a 3-pointer with 1:17 left in the game and that would seal it for the Muskies as Cincinnati never got closer than 5 after that.

Final Score: Xavier 84 Cincinnati 79

(Photo: Noah Garel)


Final Stats:

- Jizzle James made an instant impact on this rivalry in his freshman year. The talented point guard led the Bearcats with 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting, 2-of-3 from outside.

- John Newman had 14 second half points to go with 5 rebounds. He was a primary reason for the Bearcats' getting back in the game after falling behind by 8 at the half. Newman finished with 18 points, 8 rebounds on 7-of-10 shooting.

- Viktor Lakhin struggled in the first half with 2 points but responded with 15 second half points to give him 17 for the game. Lakhin also pulled down 8 rebounds to go wtih 3 assists. The one area the big man struggled was from outside, going 1-for-7.

- The last Bearcat to reach double figures was Day Day Thomas, who scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half. Thomas finished the game 6-of-10 from the field but had just 2 assists to go with three turnovers. Wes Miller mentioned first half foul trouble hurt the Bearcats as they lost Thomas' ability to get to the rim.

- The biggest stat from a Bearcat perspective was the trio of CJ Fredrick, Dan Skillings, and Simas Lukosius combining to go 2-of-20 from the field for just 4 points. Lukosius was 1-of-9 from the field in the first half and didn't attempt a shot in the second half. Wes Miller mentioned Xavier's gameplan to limit Fredrick's touches defensively as a primary reason for him not getting enough looks. 

- Xavier shot the ball better from the perimeter. The Muskies finished 8-of-17 compared to 5-of-23 for UC. Xavier also made 22-of-26 free throws, while the Bearcats struggled, going 10-of-16.

 - Cincinnati owned the paint, outscoring Xavier 50-32 and out-rebounding the Musketeers 45-41.

 -Xavier's Abou Ousmane picks up a double-double in his Crosstown Shootout debut with 10 points and eleven rebounds.

-Quincy Olivari continues his impressive shooting streak with 27 points tonight following a 34 point performance vs Delaware.

-Dayvion McKnight had his first 20 point performance of his Xavier career tonight.

Final Thoughts:

If you're a UC fan, this game has not been very fun to watch over the past 17 years. UC has now lost 12-of-17 and 5 in a row. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap and acknowledge that a team was better on that particular night. The Bearcats will learn from this defeat and experience and find a way to get better moving forward. There aren't going to be many games where Fredrick, Lukosius, and Skillings have the type of night like they had tonight.

The positives from a Cincinnati perspective: We saw John Newman have the type of night that can really elevate this team to another level if he can sustain that level of play. We also watched Jizzle James come out and show that he is going to be a future star. If UC can get consistent play out of their two point guards like we saw tonight, they are going to be just fine. Learn and move on.

Up Next: 

Cincinnati: Tuesday 12/12 v Bryant


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