NCAA: Xavier-Cincy Brawl Bad For All
Senior NBA Writer & College Basketball Editor
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Tension was high going into the Xavier and Cincinnati game on Saturday afternoon. The two programs, which are located within 10 minutes of each other, have one of the best rivalries in all of college basketball. The matchup between the two is a game that each team circles as a big one prior to the start of the season.
The Musketeers went into the contest with revenge on their mind after losing to the Bearcats last year in blowout fashion by 20. Meanwhile, the Bearcats were looking for a much-needed quality victory against a top-ten team to help get themselves back in the rankings. They were ranked prior to the start of the season, but fell out of the Top 25 due to a 5-2 start.
Bearcats sophomore guard Sean Kilpatrick got the trash talking started this past week when he called out Xavier star Tu Holloway on a local radio show. Kilpatrick not only said that he was better than Holloway, who is widely-regarded as one of the premier point guards in the nation and a preseason All-American, he went as far as to say that Holloway wouldn’t even start if he was on the Bearcats.
The verbal sparring continued during pregame warm-ups and throughout the game, which was controlled by Holloway and the Musketeers throughout. They outscored the Bearcats 42-28 in the second half after leading by nine at intermission. Then, with 9.2 seconds left things got completely out of hand.
Holloway was face-to-face with Ge’Lawn Guyn of Cincinnati, when his teammate Dez Wells came over and shoved Guyn to the ground. A bench-clearing brawl ensued. During the course of it, Bearcats center and NBA draft prospect Yancy Gates connected on two punches. One of them bloodied and dropped Musketeers center Kenny Frease, who wasn’t even looking Gates’ direction, and the other grazed Landen Amos. After getting blindsided by Gates, Frease was also stomped in the face by Cheikh Mbodj.
By the time the officials and coaches were able to put an end to the madness, there was no way the game could continue. So it ended right there, but the foolishness continued when the Musketeers backcourt got behind the microphones at the postgame press conference.
“That’s what you’re going to a from Xavier and Cincinnati,” Holloway said. “We got disrespected a little bit before the game, guys calling us out. We’re a tough team. We’re grown men over here. We have a whole bunch of gangsters in the locker room, not thugs but tough guys on the court. We went out there and zipped them up at the end of the game. That’s our motto: zip em’ up.
“This is my city. I’m cut from a different cloth. None of them guys on their team is like me. We got disrespected. Maybe it looked bad to you (media), but this is what I’m used to. This is where I’m from. This isn’t bad.
“I was hearing on twitter or whatever that one of those guys was calling me out. He said I wouldn’t start on their team or whatever the case may be and those guys were also saying they’re better than us. You don’t talk before the game. You talk after the game and you let your play on the court talk for you.”
“If someone puts their hands in your face or try to do something to you, where we’re from you’re going to do something back,” Mark Lyons added. “We’re not going to let our face get beat in by someone like Yancy Gates and you all amp it up so much you make animosity. We didn’t do this. This is a rivalry game, what do you expect from us?”
Holloway also reportedly told a reporter after the game off the record that his team “put the Bearcats in a body bag.” The postgame comments by Holloway and Lyons were nearly as bad as their actions on the court. Thankfully, Bearcats head coach Mick Cronin was there to provide a level-headed and professional take.
“It’s a complete embarrassment,” Cronin said. “Toughness is doing the right thing. You take your ass-whipping and you go home. If my players don’t act the right way they will never play another game at Cincinnati. Right now I just told my guys I need to meet with my Athletic Director and President and decide who is on the team going forward. That’s what the University of Cincinnati is about period. I’ve never been more embarrassed.
“I’m hoping President Williams doesn’t ask me to resign after that. I made everyone take their jersey off. And they will not put it back on again until they have a full understanding of where they go to school, what the university stands for and how lucky they are to even be there let alone have a scholarship because there’s a whole lot of kids who can’t pay for college. They’re all sitting in there with no jerseys on. Some of them I physically took off of them.”
Xavier Coach Chris Mack came off as less upset than Cronin, but acknowledged that there will be repercussions to follow.
“I’m not in a position to be a decision maker,” Mack said. “We’ll address the situation and see what our conference feels is necessary. The bigger thing is that our kids in this situation need to learn how to handle themselves and not let that happen again. No one wanted the game to end like that. We wanted to have our seniors celebrate the crosstown shootout.
Atlantic-10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade did not see the fight live, but told ESPN.com “we’re going to take the appropriate action.”
Big East commissioner Dan Gavitt had the following to say: “We will talk to the officials and engage with the coaches and the institutions so it might take some time. We’ll start with what penalties incurred through the game officials and go from there and see what is appropriate.”
Due to punches being thrown and the nature of the situation as a whole, the NCAA will also undoubtedly be involved in levying out penalties.
From an NBA-draft perspective, the fight will serve as a blemish on the resumes of Holloway, Lyons and Gates – all who have professional ambitions and potential. While the NBA world is working around the clock with free agency ongoing and huge trades happening, they’ll take note of what occurred on Saturday and take it into consideration come draft night.
Five Games To Watch This Week: 12/17: Syracuse vs. North Carolina State (6:30 PM EST), Texas A&M vs. Florida (2:30 PM EST), Kansas State vs. Alabama (10 PM EST), UNLV vs. Illinois (5 PM EST), Arizona vs. Gonzaga (4 PM EST)