College basketball rivalries are as good as it gets for the season outside of the NCAA tournament. One of the most underrated rivalry games is between Xavier and Cincinnati basketball teams. Separated by just three miles, things get intense. If you have any doubts about how big this game is for both teams, take into account the fact that 10 years ago, the game was called early due to a massive fight breaking out.
In the biggest college basketball game to this point in the season, the Cincinnati Bearcats fell flat on their faces. Led by Jack Nunge, the Xavier Musketeers dropped the Bearcats to a 7-3 record by a score of 83-63. Cincinnati basketball struggled early, and with Xavier’s suffocating defense, this game got out of hand quickly in front of a raucous Cintas Center.
Cincinnati Basketball Falls to Xavier
Xavier Defense Wrecks Havoc
The Cincinnati Bearcats have struggled to shoot the ball to start the season, and it’s obvious that Xavier did their homework on them. Throughout the game, Xavier continuously changed between a zone and man defense. With the guards rarely willing to get into the middle of the defense and create stress on the zone, Cincinnati had to rely on isolations and deep threes to win this game. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t work for them at all.
Cincinnati had plenty of problems with their offense against Xavier. The biggest problem, however, was the continued use of isolation for the Bearcats. Not only does zone defense work perfectly for that type of offensive style, but it makes it hard to get rebounds as well. With three to four Cincinnati players outside of the arc at any one time, it was a four or five against one for Xavier to corral the rebounds. When your offense is inefficient and you can’t get any second chances, you won’t win many games.
Self-Inflicted Mistakes for Cincinnati
Say what you will about Xavier, but there is little doubt that they’re a well-coached team. As a result of that, they make their opponent beat them, not the other way around. The Bearcats fell right into this trap and were largely to thank for their own woes. For starters, the Bearcats missed way too many open layups. The few times they were able to get it inside with a good look, they just flat out missed.
The second problem for Cincinnati basketball was silly and unnecessary fouling. There was a reason that Xavier shot 35 free throws to Cincinnati’s 17. Xavier is good from the stripe as well, which made the fouls even more maddening. The Bearcats committed 27 fouls to Xavier’s 18. It is no secret that the referees became trigger-happy at times in the second half, but most of them were good calls. Cincinnati fouled Xavier in dumb situations too often and found themselves not only killed from the line, but also in massive foul trouble all game.