With brawl in past, No. 11 Cincinnati tops Xavier

CINCINNATI – No technical fouls. No flying elbows. No rubbing it in. In a new setting, the city’s annual crosstown basketball game was back to being a good old rivalry.

And a rather amicable one at that.

Sean Kilpatrick scored 25 points and led a second-half surge that carried No. 11 Cincinnati to a 60-45 victory over Xavier on Wednesday, renewing their rivalry one year after it was marred by a brawl.

Cincinnati (11-0) won its 18th straight game at a downtown arena that is the rivalry’s stage for the next two years, an attempt to take the nasty edge off the annual game. The first one met most expectations.

“I thought it was great,” Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. “If it’s the city’s game, we’ve got to play in downtown Cincinnati and let the fans come. I’m also a firm believer that what happened last year, anybody that’s been around the game saw it coming for three years.

“It eliminates the hatred that gets spewed in the on-campus environment and keeps it positive for everybody.”

The game was moved downtown and given a new name – the Crosstown Classic instead of the Crosstown Shootout – after last year’s ugly finish.

Xavier was unbeaten and ranked No. 8 when it beat the Bearcats 76-53 on the Musketeers’ home court last season. With 9.4 seconds left, words were exchanged, the basketball was flung and fists started flying – the darkest moment in the rivalry’s 80-game history.

For a while, the schools considered calling off the annual game. Instead, they moved it to a neutral site and emphasized the game’s place in the community.

“Last year was something that’s not going to happen again,” Xavier guard Brad Redford said. “Both of these teams have a lot of respect for each other. So I guess it’s good to get last year’s game off our backs. I’m glad they allowed us to play each other.”

The game drew 14,528 fans to the arena, which seats 16,264 for basketball. Having fans from both teams in the stands gave it a different feel.

“I loved it, personally,” said Cincinnati point guard Cashmere Wright, who had 15 points. “You’ve got the two sides. They scored, their crowd went crazy. We scored, our crowd went crazy.”

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