A new back yard rivalry developed at the Cintas Center at Xavier University.
After dismantling #24 Michigan on Saturday on the road, Xavier (4-0) was left gripping a hard fought 78-66 win over the Northern Kentucky Norse (1-3) in their first game as a member of the Top 25 (23).
It was the first time that the two schools played since the 1978-79 season Xavier is now 4-2 in the series.
Xavier had six players in double figures. Trevon Bluiett scored 14 points and 16 rebounds. James Farr scored 13. Edmond Sumner, Remy Abell and Myles Davis had 12 each. Jalen Rose scored 11.
Tyler White led the Norse with 25 points. Lavone Holland chipped in with 11, while leading NKU with eight rebounds.
"We were not ready to play," Myles Davis said. "We are more talented than they are. That's why we won the game. We didn't come to play. NKU did."
Xavier coach Chris Mack had more to say.
"I was disappointed in the whole game. All 40 minutes," Mack said. "It wasn't about X's and O's. I'm not trying to reflect the game. I'm responsible for the ship and our ship sucked tonight. We sucked. It was ridiculous to come out and play like this."
After a big win in Ann Arbor the Musketeers were ranked for the first time this season but Mack was not impressed.
'It's garbage," Mack said. "That doesn't mean a thing until you go out on the court and show who you are. I give NKU a lot of credit. They came to play. We didn't. We talked about the Michigan game for four days going into it. I don't understand how you don't come to play every day."
The underdog Norse, who dropped a 64-56 decision to Morehead State had a different perspective.
"I think our young men competed tonight," NKU coach John Brannen said. "We used our game plan and competed. We tried to guard them close without fouling but we didn't quite do that."
NKU committed 27 fouls and put the Musketeers on the foul line 34 times. The Xavier had one more field goal 23-22. NKU had nine 3-pointers to Xavier's six but the 12 point margin was achieved at the foul line. Xavier made 26 free throws and NKU made 13.
Sophomore guard Holland from Louisville Ballard High School was not heavily recruited. NKU was his only option. He will be a junior when the team becomes ready for the NCAA.
""It was fun to go out and implement our game plan with a top 25 team. They are really good. It feels good to compete against them," Holland said.
He is not ready to think about NCAA tournaments down the road.
"I'm more looking forward to the next two days of practice and getting to work. We got a lot of good experience out of this game," Holland said."