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Cincinnati star knocks Xavier's Holloway

Saturday’s Cincinnati-Xavier matchup -- officially titled the Skyline Chili Crosstown Shootout -- doesn’t need any pregame hype.

The two schools are about 4 miles apart. Cincinnati has a 48-30 edge in the series, but the Musketeers have won three of the last four meetings.

But Bearcats sophomore Sean Kilpatrick added a little fire to the battle Thursday, when he told local radio station Real Talk 1160 WQRT that Xavier star Tu Holloway wouldn’t be a starter on his 5-2 Bearcats squad. He also said, predictably, that he’s the better player.

Here’s a snippet from Kilpatrick’s conversation with Andy Furman Thursday:

Furman: “Are you better than Tu Holloway?”

Kilpatrick: “I’ll let the fans decide…”

Furman: “I need to know. No one’s listening. Just between you and me.”

Kilpatrick: “Yes I am.”

Furman: “Would Tu Holloway start for UC?”

Kilpatrick: “Would he, with the players we have now? I would say no.”

Kilpatrick has been a star for the Bearcats (15.0 ppg), so of course he wants to pump up his team and knock a rival. Plus, he and Holloway are both New York natives. And this is a big matchup for both teams, as evidenced by this hilarious tale about the “The Night Before” the Crosstown Shootout.

The Bearcats have lost to Presbyterian and Marshall despite returning their top-four scorers. They haven’t played like the Big East sleeper they appeared to be before the season started.

But Xavier is undefeated and with the way Holloway has competed, early Final Four chatter has commenced. A win over Cincinnati would continue to boost Xavier’s confidence.

So the stakes are high for both squads.

But Kilpatrick ... Holloway (17.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.7 apg) couldn’t start for your team? Over Cashmere Wright? Yeah, right.

I do, however, like the fact that Kilpatrick is backing his guys, although I don’t agree with his comments.

But look what he did. He spurred a conversation about the rivalry game. Now, it’s must-see TV.

And Holloway has some extra motivation. That should be great for spectators, and potentially dangerous for the Bearcats.