7:00 PM ET, February 3, 2004
Cintas Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
CINCINNATI (AP) -- No profane taunts, no technical fouls, no on-court tussles. The city's basketball rivalry was more civil this time around.Until Xavier got 'em again, that is.Lionel Chalmers scored 20 points and hit a fadeaway jumper with 27 seconds left Tuesday night, leading Xavier to a 71-69 victory over No. 10 Cincinnati.The Musketeers (11-9) pulled off another stunning upset of their crosstown rival by getting big games from their two senior guards.Chalmers repeatedly drove to the basket and made floating jumpers over the outstretched arms of the Bearcats' brawnier front line. Romain Sato added 18 points with a game-high 11 rebounds for the home team.Cincinnati (15-3) has lost six of its last eight games against Xavier, which usually plays its best against its crosstown rival. That eight-year stretch includes two upsets when Cincinnati was ranked No. 1.Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins criticized Xavier fans leading up to the game, and Bearcats players said the game was more important to the Musketeers -- a way of belittling the small Jesuit school.Chalmers would have none of it."Our fans were amazing," he said. "That had a lot to do with the win. Those guys talk trash."After a pause, Chalmers added, "By the way, we've still got the trophy."They do, thanks to Chalmers.He made a 3-pointer that tied it for the third and final time in the second half. Two minutes later, he stepped back from a double-team and made an 18-foot jumper for a 70-69 lead with 27 seconds left.Cincinnati then threw away a chance for the last shot. Nick Williams' crosscourt pass for Armein Kirkland flew over his head with 4.9 seconds left, Cincinnati's 18th turnover.Cincinnati initially tried to get the ball inside to Jason Maxiell, who was covered."We knew they wanted to go to Maxiell," Xavier forward Anthony Myles said. "I wanted to force him higher, because he's no threat from the outside. When we did that, they didn't know what to do."Chalmers was fouled and missed two free throws, but Eric Hicks knocked the ball out of bounds as he and Sato fought for the rebound. Sato made one free throw after an intentional foul with 2.2 seconds left, and the game ended with Xavier's inbounds pass getting swatted around.Tony Bobbitt scored 17 points for Cincinnati, which has lost three of its last five games after a 13-0 start."We lost our swagger," Hicks said. "We've got to get back to being ourselves. If we don't play hard and rebound, everybody's going to beat us."Xavier's struggles this season -- five losses in its previous six games -- took some of the luster but none of the emotion out of the annual rivalry.Huggins stirred it up the last few days by saying Xavier's fans in previous years were the most profane he'd ever encountered. Xavier officials apologized for the student section's conduct after that game, but were miffed when Huggins brought it up again this week.The two school presidents sat together on the Xavier bench during warmups, chatting and sharing a few laughs. The Rev. Michael Graham of Xavier then walked to midcourt and asked the crowd of 10,250 to applaud new Cincinnati president Nancy Zimpher.When Huggins came out to the court for his postgame radio show, one fan yelled at him, "A bitter pill!" Huggins didn't acknowledge the comment."The crowd was great," Huggins said in a raspy voice. "What Father (Graham) did was a classy thing. They were terrific. That's the way it ought to be."The crowd went silent as the Musketeers fumbled around in the opening minutes.Cincinnati abandoned its customary press, wary of Xavier's three slick guards, and went with a straight man-to-man defense that locked up the Musketeers' perimeter-oriented offense. Xavier missed nine consecutive shots while Cincinnati went on a 15-1 run, pulling ahead 19-8.Then, it was Xavier's turn.Chalmers had two of his early shots swatted away, but didn't back down and led a 23-7 spurt that closed the first half. Chalmers hit two 3s and made a leaning bank shot at the buzzer, putting Xavier up 37-32.Justin Doellman's three-point play opened the second half and gave Xavier its biggest lead, 40-32.Cincinnati recovered by hitting its first four 3-point attempts in the second half. Bobbitt's fastbreak layup and his 3 from the top of the key gave Cincinnati a 48-44 lead. There were three ties and six lead changes in the second half.
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