Xavier built a 16 point halftime lead but had to withstand a fierce Cincinnati run to take its third straight Crosstown Shootout 65-55.
Myles Davis buried a 3-point shot at the first half buzzer to extend its lead to 16 at 42-26. Cincinnati scored the first 10 points of the second half to make it a hard fough victory.
"It's a game of runs," said Remy Able, who scored nine points. "We knew Cincinnati would make a run."
"We were more aggressive and didn't turn the ball over to start the second half," Cincinnati guard Shaq Thomas. "They were up 20-12 in rebounding in the first half. We turned that around in the second half."
Trevon Bluiett came into the game averaging 15.9 points but only scored three in the game. The Bearcats lost control of the game with 16 turnovers.
"They beat us from the outside in the first half and the inside in the second half," Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. "You can't beat a real team by turning the ball over 16 times and beat a real team. Xavier is a real team. The proof is that we held their best scorer to three points. We hung together and played better in the second half."
Farad Cobb hit two 3-point shots to start the scoring in the second half. Shaq Thomas added a pair of layups before Edmond Sumner broke the string with a jumper.
"That was as much of an uncomfortable 16-point leads I've ever had," Xavier coach Chris Mack said. "Their defense in the second half stymied us and stole our confidence. We felt rebounding and taking care of the basketball would be the key to winning. Our rebounding lead was obliterated but we didn't turn the ball over much. That's what saved us."
Mack has now won six of the seven meetings between the two teams against his child hood neighbor Cronin.
Cronin downplayed the importance of the rivalry game.
"We don't care about all that stuff. The days of Xavier at the Cincinnati Gardens and being the underdog has past. That ship has sailed. They have a nice new arena and plenty of support now. Chris Mack is one of the best coaches in the country and Xavier kept him from taking a Pac 12 job."
Mack was exhausted after the game and didn't show a lot of excitement.
"They are the most physical team inside we'll play all year," Mack said. "This game is a war. I don't know how our players feel but I'm limping around. I'm sweating. I feel like Pete Gillen. I have so much respect for what Mick has done over there. They are physical and tough."
Myles Davis led all scorers with 17 points. Edmond Sumner scored 11 and made a highlight reel dunk in the second half. Jalen Reynolds was challenged inside by Octavius Ellis. Reynolds had just two points and one rebound at halftime. He scored six points and pulled down five rebounds in an eight minute stretch after Cincinnati got within five points. Trevon Bluiet didn't score much but along with Jamie Farr and Reynolds had six rebound. Farr added nine points.
Cincinnati put four players in double figures. Ellis led the team with 13 points. Thomas and Cobb had 11. Troy Caupain added 10. Gary Clark and Ellis did the heavy lifting on the glass with seven and six rebounds respectively.
Cincinnati hosts Norfolk State on Tuesday night. Xavier rests a week before hosting Auburn at noon on Saturday.
The women's Crosstown Shootout will be held at 2:00pm Sunday.