But with 9.4 seconds remaining, an altercation between Ge-Lawn Guyn and Tu Holloway turned into an all-out brawl that masked Cincinnati’s 76-53 loss Saturday at the Cintas Center. Things were getting chippy well before the melee, and everything came to a head once Guyn hit the floor courtesy of a two-handed shove by Dez Wells.
Officially, Wells, Yancy Gates and Cheikh Mbodj were ejected from the game after a review by Atlantic 10 officials.
While the game-ending festivities received a bulk of the attention, Cincinnati’s inability to score in the post was the root of the team’s difficulties.
“We don’t post up with any authority,” said head coach Mick Cronin. “Cheihk really struggled. If you can’t put pressure on the rim, we are going to struggle. We have to be able to throw it in there and get a basket.”
Gates was able to score 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting with 12 rebounds, while the rest of the front court was stymied. Mbodj, Justin Jackson and Kelvin Gaines combined for 1-of-4 shooting for two points and eight rebounds.
When Cincinnati was able to get some looks at the rim, they simply missed them or had them turned away as Xavier recorded eight blocks. In addition, they struggled from beyond the arc – hitting just one in 16 attempts. Sean Kilpatrick was 3-of-12 from the field, including a paltry 1-of-8 from three.
“We are in for a long year if we play soft, miss layups and not play defense,” said Cronin. “Our defense was as bad as it’s since I was coaching here.”