Xavier lost to Texas in overtime Sunday, 78-76. XU (19-16, 10-10, 93rd) was on the road for the NIT sweet sixteen matchup. Tyrique Jones scored 22 points on 10-12 shooting and had 11 rebounds for Xavier. The Muskies’ Naji Marshall scored 19 points (7-17), and Zach Hankins added 13 (6-8). Texas’ (18-16, 8-11, 74th) Kerwin Roach II scored 21 points, and (6-13) and Jase Febres had 17 (6-10). Xavier finishes the 2018-19 season in 4th place (tie) in the Big East regular Season, semifinalists in the Big East Tournament, and NIT 2nd round participants. This was Travis Steele’s first season as head coach. Next season Xavier will begin play in the Charleston Classic, which features teams that include Florida, Miami, UConn, and Buffalo.
Zach Hankins scored 13 points, but was unable to score on the final play of the game (Nick Wagner/American Statesman).
The Bearcats fell to the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Round of 64 in the NCAA Tournament, 79-72. Friday, UC (28-7, 17-4, 13th) played Iowa (22-12, 11-11, 49th) in Columbus in front of many UC fans. Unfortunately, that and Justin Jenifer’s 19 points on 7-12 shooting was not enough. The Bearcats also had 17 points from Jarron Cumberland who was 7-17 from the field. Iowa’s Luka Garza scored 20 points, going 8-11 from the field. UC finishes their 2018-19 season as AAC Tournament champions, 2nd place AAC regular season, and NCAA Tournament Round of 64 participants. Cincinnati will return next year playing in the US Virgin Island Paradise Jam tournament featuring eight teams, including Nevada. The Cats’ will also play in the Chicago Legends in December against, you guessed it, Iowa.
Tre Scott (13) walks off the court after the defeat (Busting Brackets).
The Cincinnati Bearcats took down the Houston Cougars, 69-57 to win the AAC Championship. Cincinnati (28-6, 17-4, 13th) won their second consecutive championship thanks to Jarron Cumberland’s tremendous 33-point effort on over 50% shooting. Cane Broome also scored 15 points for the Cats’ to prevent a third loss to the Coogs’. Houston (31-3, 18-3, 3rd) was led by Armoni Brooks and his 17 points, although the Cougars shot only 30% from the field. The Bearcats will face Iowa (22-11, 11-11, 53rd) in the round of 64 in the NCAA Tournament. TV: CBS Radio: 700 WLW
The Bearcats celebrate back-to-back AAC Championships (Carl Schmid/UC Athletics).
Xavier’s five-game winning streak was snapped at Butler Tuesday, losing 71-66. Butler (16-14, 7-10, 89th) avenged its earlier loss in front of a near-capacity crowd on senior night. The Musketeers (16-14, 8-9, 101st) were led by Tyrique Jones and Paul Scruggs who each had 13 points in a tightly contested matchup. Butler was led by Kamar Baldwin (24) and “crowd favorite” Paul Jorgenson (19) in scoring for the Bulldogs’ last home game. Xavier is now tied for fourth place in the Big East, and currently holds the tiebreaker over St. John’s. XU will host St. John’s (20-10, 8-9, 49th) Saturday for senior day/regular season finale at 5 PM. TV: FOX Radio: 700 WLW
Quentin Goodin (3) had seven points in the contest (Russo/USA Today).
Cincinnati continued AAC domination by winning at home vs. Memphis 71-69 Saturday night. The game itself was certainly a nail-biter but a key defensive play (Logan Johnson) prevented Memphis (18-12, 10-7, 67th) from a game-winning shot. The Bearcats (25-4, 14-2, 13th) were led by star guard Jarron Cumberland’s 26 points. Memphis was led by all-American favorite Jeremiah Martin and his 28 points. The Bearcats as of Monday (3/4) are tied with Houston atop the AAC standings, with the Cougars (27-2, 14-2, 4th) holding the tiebreaker (head-to-head). Cincinnati will play the Cougars on senior day Sunday. Before that game, UC will be on the road at UCF (22-6, 12-4, 21st) who just defeated Houston on the road. The game in Orlando will tip-off Thursday at 7 PM. TV: ESPN2 Radio: 700 WLW
Nassir Brooks (33) throws down a dunk against Memphis (Enquirer/USA Today)
At long last, Xavier was able to secure a victory, 64-61 OT over Creighton Wednesday night. The overtime victory snaps a six-game losing streak for Xavier (12-13, 4-8, 133rd). The Musketeers were led by Naji Marshall’s 23 points. Tyrique Jones (12) and Zach Hankins (10) also reached double digits. Martin Krampelj led the Blue Jays (12-12, 4-8, 102nd) with 18 points. The season for Xavier has been very disappointing, but is it salvageable? At this point, X is hoping for an overall winning record. That is no guarantee in the Big East conference. The only guaranteed postseason for the Muskies’ is the conference tournament in New York City. Any hopes of playing after that, will depend on how Xavier fares in Madison Square Garden. XU will play Providence (14-11, 4-8, 98th) Saturday at 2 PM in Rhode Island. TV: FOX Radio: 700 WLW
Naji Marshall’s 23 points and clutch play helped X win (The Enquirer)
It’s officially March now. That means conference tournaments are about to begin, and the NCAA Tournament is only a few weeks away. Here’s how the local teams fare:
Photo Credit: upi.com
Record: 22-7 (9-7 in Big East)
Analysis: The Bearcats were slightly on the bubble. But then a victory at #11 Georgetown last week made it almost certain that they will be participating in their first NCAA tournament since 2004. A loss to #15 Connecticut does not change this. With two games left, at Marquette and vs. #17 Georgetown, the Cats’ should win at least one of those. The Big East tournament will then be an important setting for UC to improve their stock. Although their NCAA bid probably won’t ride on it, a higher seed could result from a solid performance. As of now, Cincy is projected as a #7 seed.
Great Wins: Xavier, at St. John’s, Louisville, at Georgetown
Horrible Losses: None
#23 Xavier Musketeers
Photo Credit: Deseret News
Record: 22-6 (13-1 in Atlantic 10)
Analysis: The Muskies are enjoying a soft A-10 schedule, and are taking care of business. An absolute lock in the tournament, Xavier just needs to keep playing very well, as they have been doing. A win at Dayton on Sunday, helps maintain their momentum. They do, however, have a baffling loss at Charlotte, whose RPI is 218. Nonetheless, Xavier should roll through the A-10 tournament, or at least make it to the finals. They also are projected to be a #7 seed in the NCAA Tournament.