CINCINNATI – Xavier center Kenny Frease used a white cloth to soak up the blood streaming from a gash below his eye. Coaches from both teams bear-hugged their players and tried to yank them away from the bedlam.
The latest crosstown shootout got out of control Saturday and ended in bedlam, a few seconds early. The repercussions haven’t even started.
Eighth-ranked Xavier beat crosstown rival Cincinnati 76-53 in a game that featured a steady stream of trash talking and was called with 9.4 seconds left when the teams got into a brawl.
Words escalated into shoves and swings. Both benches cleared. Frease left the court with his face bloodied after getting punched by Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates and then kicked by Cincinnati’s Cheikh Mbodj as he lay on the floor. Xavier freshman Dez Wells threw a punch.
It left a black-and-blue mark on the annual rivalry. Suspensions are expected after the videotapes are reviewed.
“There’s no excuse for any of them, on our side, on their side,” Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said angrily. “Guys need to grow up. There is zero excuse for that in basketball. You’ve got to learn how to win on one side, you’ve got to learn how to lose on the other side.”
The Atlantic 10 Conference said that Gates, Mbodj and Wells were listed as ejected, indicating their actions were deemed the most severe.
The last two games in the series have been one-sided, leading to some heightened emotion.
Cincinnati (5-3) won by 20 points on its home court last season, while Xavier (8-0) answered with its second-biggest win in the series’ history.
Xavier’s Tu Holloway got open for a layup with 18.6 seconds left, and the players headed down court. Holloway, a senior guard held to five points in the game last season, said some things to the Cincinnati bench and got shoved, igniting the free-for-all.
During the week, Cincinnati guard Sean Kilpatrick told an interviewer that Holloway – the Atlantic 10’s player of the year – wouldn’t start for his team. Holloway wanted the last word as the clock ran out.
“I was just saying it’s my city right here,” Holloway said. “I’m cut from a different cloth. None of them guys on that team is like me, so I don’t understand. I felt disrespected for them guys to come at me and talk like that, so I let the whole staff over there and let their players know that none of them is like me. That’s when it started.”
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