What should’ve been a blowout, the 19th ranked Cincinnati Bearcats led by senior guard, Troy Caupain beat the 24th ranked Xavier Musketeers in the annual Crosstown Shootout in front of a packed house at Fifth Third Arena last night with a score of 86 to 78.
Both teams played hard and it was definitely a fun game to watch. If you didn’t watch the rival game last night, you missed out. Xavier was draining 3’s like it was nothing and the Bearcats crashed the boards making the Musketeers look silly. After losing to Xavier 3 straight times, it felt SO GOOD to finally get the win vs. Xavier at home. Definitely proud of my bearcats!
First off, despite my hate for Xavier, I have to give credit to Xavier’s Trevon Bluiett. The man played all 40 minutes, drained 9 3-pointers and scored 40 points. I’ve never seen a performance like that from a college basketball player, ever. Coming into the game, Bluiett averaged 17 points a game and he scored 40 points last night! He was 100% on his accuracy in the first half. I don’t know if the basketball gods were on his side in the first half but he carried his team scoring 51% of Xavier’s total points. I was literally scared watching this game because this man could do it all. Thankfully, the Bearcats toughness and defense prevailed.
The reason why Cincinnati won against a good team like Xavier is just looking at the team stat sheet. They led in rebounding 42-33. They had a 34-12 advantage on points in the paint. The crazy statistic of all was the Bearcats were 30-4 on second-chance points. However, this game should’ve been a blowout. The Bearcats made 18 of their 37 free throws. That’s 19 missed free points!! The final score should’ve been at least 100 to 78. It’s crazy to think about because they shot nearly perfect on their free throws in their last couple games. I believe it was just a mentality thing. The hype of the game caught up to them, they weren’t relaxing and weren’t getting it done. But, in the end, it was a team effort and they still got the W. Other stats include Bearcats getting 9 blocks, 4 from Washington and 5 steals and creating 12 turnovers. On paper, the Bearcats dominated Xavier. If they can fix their free throw percentage, I can’t imagine how dangerous this team will be in March.
5 players from the Bearcats squad scored in double figures last night. Sophmore Jacob Evans led the team with 21 points and 7 rebounds. Senior guard Tory Caupain had 16 points and Kyle Washington with 12 points and 8 rebounds. Junior forward had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Finally, freshman Jarron Cumberland came off the bench scoring 15 points. Looking through social media, Jarron Cumberland took this game seriously and literally came in the game fired up and it showed. Cumberland grew up about 40 minutes north of Cincinnati so I knew he wanted to make his family proud. Funny thing is Cumberland was actually recruited by Xavier and had an offer from them. It’s a scary thought to think if Cumberland did go to the other school. Thankfully, he chose the right side and displayed a tremendous performance.
All in all, it was a great team effort from the Bearcats. They didn’t let Bluiett’s hot hand get to them and just played Cincinnati ball. I’m super happy for seniors Caupain and Kevin Johnson. They couldn’t go 0-4 against the Musketeers and I’m happy they didn’t. They can’t celebrate too long because they are back in fifth third arena Sunday afternoon to take on the 6-13 South Florida Bulls. I know they aren’t much of a threat on paper but the Bearcats have to come ready to play every game. The last remaining 11 games won’t be easy because there’s a 3-4 day gap between each game. The only game I’m worried about is when we take on SMU at Texas. They only have 1 conference loss (to UC lol) and that will be a very important road win for us.
I can tell this is a special basketball team for the University of Cincinnati. Our starting 5 all contribute in different ways and our bench is lethal as well. Like I said, if they fix their free throws, this is a team to look out for in March. At this point, I’m just praying that they will stay healthy and play tough like they did last night in their last 11 games. It’ll be great to get a top seed in the NCAA but they can only do so if they finish strong in the next month and a half. It’s going to be great to watch! GO BEARCATS!