CINCINNATI (AP) — Sean Kilpatrick scored 25 points and led a second-half surge that carried No. 11 Cincinnati to a 60-45victory over Xavier on Wednesday night, renewing their crosstown rivalry amicably one year after it was marred by a brawl.
Cincinnati (11-0) won its 18th straight game at a downtown arena that has become the rivalry's stage for the next two years, an attempt to take the nasty edge off the annual game.
No technical fouls, no showing off, no on-court dust-ups. It was back to being a good old rivalry.
And the Bearcats got the better of it in the second half behind Kilpatrick, who scored nine points in a 17-4 run that put them ahead to stay. Travis Taylor led Xavier (7-3) with 12 points.
The game was moved downtown and given a new name — the Crosstown Classic instead of the Crosstown Shootout — after last year's game ended in a brawl.
Xavier was unbeaten and ranked No. 8 when it beat the Bearcats 76-53 on the Musketeers' home court last season. With 9.4 seconds left, words were exchanged, the basketball was flung and fists started flying — the darkest moment in the rivalry's 80-game history.
For a while, the schools considered calling off the annual game. Instead, they changed its format, moving it off the campuses for two years. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center also became a partner, emphasizing the game's place in the community.
The game drew 14,528 fans to the arena, which seats 16,264 for basketball.
The schools' presidents, athletics directors and mascots met courtside before the game, shaking hands while photographers snapped away. They jointly presented a check for $50,000 to the Freedom Center. Xavier and Cincinnati fans were seated on opposite sides of the arena. The schools' dance teams performed together at halftime.
Both schools hoped for a clean, exciting game so they could finally get past last year's ugliness.
They got it.
Cincinnati had a lot in its favor. The Bearcats play at the downtown arena regularly. They also have a much deeper lineup, a lot more experience and a high-scoring offense driven by their three guards.
Xavier took away the Bearcats' fast-break offense at the outset and turned it into a half-court game that was more the Musketeers' style. And, for most of the first half, they got the best of it.
Cincinnati opened in a 4-for-25 shooting slump, missing five shots in the paint on one possession. Three-pointers by Dee Davis and Brad Redford gave the Musketeers a 16-11 lead. Xavier wasted chances to stretch the lead by missing all of its six free throws in the half, but stayed ahead for the last 13 minutes and led 24-22 at the break.
Kilpatrick, Cincinnati's leading scorer, was only 3 of 12 from the field in the first half. He led the way as the Bearcats took control to start the second half.
Kilpatrick had two steals and scored nine points during the 17-4 run that opened the second half and made it 39-28. The Bearcats increased their defensive intensity, forcing four turnovers during their go-ahead run. Xavier had only seven turnovers in the first half.
Xavier point guard Dee Davis went to the bench midway through the half to get treatment on his left calf. The Musketeers had two quick turnovers, helping Cincinnati hold a 46-34 lead with 7:39 left.
The Musketeers cut the lead to eight, but Kilpatrick hit another 3 that pushed it to 51-40 with 6:09 left. The lead never got below double digits again. As the game wound down, some Cincinnati fans chanted "Zip 'em up," a reference to a comment Xavier's Tu Holloway made after the 23-point win last year.