This year's Crosstown Shootout attracted celebrities like Pete Rose, Nick Lachey, and Vanessa Mannillo. Former Bearcats Jason Maxiell, Ruben Patterson, Corie Blount, Armein Kirkland, and Lenny Stokes were also in the house.
What you couldn't find were empty seats.
The atmosphere at Fifth Third Arena was electric as a crowd of 13,176 saw the Bearcats crush Xavier 66-46. UC head coach Mick Cronin said it is no coincidence that the blowout came in front of a sellout.
"We've got seven more home games. If we have this type of crowd, we will not lose a home game," Coach Cronin told us on the radio post-game show. "That's what I'm saying to our fans, and I guess that's my challenge to our fans. I think the kids deserve it. I think they've earned it with their hustle and their play and it matters. Home court advantage in college basketball is huge and we had it tonight. The guys feed off of the energy."
And nobody feasted more than Yancy Gates. The 6'9" junior finished with 22 points, 14 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocked shots as the Bearcats made an effort to put the ball in his hands on nearly every offensive possession.
"This game obviously meant a lot to Yancy and he came to play tonight on both ends of the floor," Coach Cronin said. "When the 'Big Dog' comes to play on the offensive end you have to feed him. When the big fella decides that he wants to spread out and play with strength around that rim, we have to get him the basketball. That will encourage Yancy to do that more often. You've got to feed him when he's doing it."
While Yancy arguably had the best game of his Bearcat career, Xavier star Tu Holloway had one of his worst, finishing with 5 points on 2-for-13 shooting. Holloway wound up with more technical fouls (1) than 3-point buckets (0-for-5).
"We have veteran guys who do a great job of taking away other team's strengths," Coach Cronin said. "One player is not going to beat us. People were wondering, 'Who is going to guard Terrell Holloway.' The answer was our whole team. Our guys did an excellent job of stopping his penetration and you have to give our players all of the credit for that."
With the win, the Bearcats are 15-0 for the first time since 1962-63 when they set a school record by winning their first 19 games. And they extended their current winning streak by snapping a three-year losing streak to the Musketeers.
"I know how big this is for our fans and it's good to get them a victory," Cronin said. "And for everybody who said, 'Hey, I want to win by 20' - there you go. People were getting greedy. I just wanted to win by two."
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