Cincinnati and Xavier have a special rivalry, but on Thursday night things were electric as the two teams met in the Crosstown Shootout as Top 25 foes for just the third time in the series' 84-game history. After dropping three straight in the series, Cincinnati picked up one of the best wins of its season in a 86-78 victory.
Xavier guard Trevon Bluiett was the story of the game early, hitting his first eight three-point attempts on the way to tying a school record (9 threes) and scoring more points (40) than any other Xavier player since David West set the single-game school record with 47 against Dayton in 2003.
"Trevon Bluiett now prepared for departure"— Big East Coast Bias (@becb_sbn) January 27, 2017
But Xavier, which bounced back against Georgetown over the weekend after a three-game skid, couldn't get much more going outside of Bluiett's prolific performance. The Bearcats hung in the game through the early barrage of points and got it done on the glass, turning 19 offensive rebounds into 30 second-chance points as its defense locked down in the second half.
Cincinnati needed this win not only for rivalry reasons but for NCAA Tournament seeding. The Bearcats are undefeated in the American Athletic Conference and on pace to win the league, but the path to a league title doesn't include many games against top-50 teams (only SMU and Houston, per KenPom's current rankings). A top-25 win against your cross-town rival is about as sweet as it gets for Mick Cronin, now with 20 straight wins at home.