I think Xavier coach Chris Mack said it best when he entered the postgame presser and said simply, "A shootout to remember."
Indeed it was. The double overtime, the play of UC freshman guard Lance Stephenson (22 points, six rebounds), the clutch shooting of Muskies guard Terrell Holloway (a career-high 26 points, 11 of 11 from the foul line), and, of course, the almost-fight.
So, what should we talk about? The fight, right?
"Just a little talking going on," said Rashad Bishop, who got into it with Xavier guard Jordan Crawford. "We got heated at some points in the game."
Um, yeah. Before the near brouhaha, UC was leading by seven points. By the time it was over, Xavier went into halftime with a 31-26 halftime lead.
"You have to walk away," Mick Cronin said. "You shouldn't be starting it, first of all. If you're not, you have to walk away. My guys lost their cool. We were concerned about everything but our execution."
But you talk about intensity, and yeah, this game had plenty of that.
"It was intense," confirmed Xavier guard Dante Jackson. "How many times did the official have to break us up? Both teams really wanted to win."
Said Crawford: "I don't think a fight was going to happen. They were trying to come in here and be the bullies. We wanted to be the bullies too. We were coming too, and that put them back on their heels."
In the end, though, it wasn't the near-fisticuffs that took place that cost UC the 83-79 loss. It was the fact the Bearcats offense didn't get into a flow, shooting 37.6 percent from the floor, 21.7 percent from the 3 and 45.5 percent from the foul line.
"We missed layups," Cronin said. "You can only play so much defense. You're only going to stop them so many times. Finishing at the rim has been a problem."
--Lance Stephenson made a statement on national TV by hitting 9 of 19 attempts and taking big-time shots with the game on the line. He also apparently made some statements to Mack during the game. Asked after the game what he thought about Stephenson's performance, a very tight-lipped Mack said, "He's a very good player."
Then, somebody asked him if Stephenson had said some words to him during the game, and Mack confirmed that account. When Stephenson came into the interview room, he said he didn't remember talking to Mack.
and Holloway, who had been teammates and opponents while growing up in
--Ibrahima Thomas, in his first game for the Bearcats, didn't have much of an impact (unless you count the fact he walked through the middle of a Xavier huddle that led to the bench-clearing scenario in the first half). He finished with two points on 1 of 6 shooting (0 for 2 from the 3) and blocked a shot in seven minutes.
"Obviously he wasn't in the flow tonight. We need to get him incorporated before Big East play starts," Cronin said. "That's something we've got to do. I didn't know what I was going to see. I see him in practice every day, and he makes shots and plays well. But when a guy hasn't played in a year, it's pretty tough to come out."