Scouting the competition: the Cincinnati Bearcats

Newswire photo by Desmond Fischer | The Musketeers face an out-of-conference test on Saturday as it travels down the road to play the University of Cincinnati in the 2018 Crosstown Shootout. Xavier looks to make it two straight wins against the Bearcats.

The 2018 Crosstown Shootout is set for Saturday and in light of the rivalry game between Xavier and the University of Cincinnati, the Newswire contacted the UC student newspaper, the News Record, to gather information about the Musketeers’ intracity foe.

Matt Huffmon, the News Record sports editor, offered the Newswire his take on the weekend tilt.

In your estimation, what does the Crosstown Shootout mean to UC and the Cincinnati community?

The Crosstown Shootout is the one chance each year to prove who has the strongest team in the city. It’s one of those games where the records/rankings don’t matter due to the bragging rights at stake. For UC, it’s all about honoring the tradition and having pride for the name on the front of the jersey.
With the city not having a professional team, this is the highest level of animosity available to the fan bases. Anyone who knows this area understands it’s more than a regular-season game. You’re either on one side or the other. I think it’s great how much hype the game gets every year. In an area typically dominated by football, everyone loves seeing a little bad blood basketball.

What do you think is a key to Cincinnati’s success in this game? What does the team do well in order to win?

The emphasis all season has been on turning defense into quick offense. I’d say UC’s key to success would be forcing turnovers and keeping starters out of foul trouble, especially in the first half.

Who do you think is going to be the toughest Xavier player Cincinnati will have to guard?

Although he wasn’t much of a factor in the game last year, Naji Marshall poses a threat to UC’s frontcourt. Our guards are quick defensively, but the big men could be thrown off by Marshall’s versatility.
Jarron Cumberland has been the Bearcats’ top scorer this season. What does Xavier need to do in order to defend him well?

Cumberland stands out offensively due to his solid shot selection and vision. Mick Cronin is more worried about him staying out of foul trouble early in games, which is often an issue. Cumberland is one of those players that’s going to find a way to be productive on offense, so getting him in foul trouble would be your best bet.

Defense is normally a staple with Mick Cronin teams. How does UC matchup against this Xavier offense that has been surging of late?

Both teams are currently shooting 48 percent and averaging 12 turnovers a game. While Xavier’s offensive sets seem to be well structured, UC has worn down opponents with its quickness.
What we lack in size, we make up for with speed — on both sides of the ball. UC senior guards Justin Jenifer (5-10) and Cane Broome (6-0) will be forced to keep the much bigger Paul Scruggs and Quentin Goodin in check offensively.

What’s your game prediction?

Last year’s matchup was filled with upperclassmen on both sides, so it’ll be interesting to see how the younger standouts (Scruggs, Keith Williams for UC) respond to the environment. I think UC will make it a low scoring defensive battle. It’ll be tight in the final minutes, but UC will find a way to scratch out a win. Cincinnati 65, Xavier 62.

By: Luke Feliciano | Sports Editor