(Photo Courtesy of Desmond Fischer/ Xavier Newswire)
Today was the Naji Marshall game. In the Crosstown Shootout When you have a game people will remember in this rivalry just by saying your name, then you know that you had a legendary performance.
Marshall scored 31 points, had eight rebounds and three assists. Not to mention, Naji was the guy whose main assignment was to guard Cincinnati's Jarron Cumberland who struggled today shooting 4/14 from the field and 1/8 from the arch. "Just make every shot he gets tough. Whoever was on him did that and he's a great player but today we executed our game plan against him," Tyrique Jones said about playing against Cumberland. Jarron wasn't the only Cumberland cousin who struggled in this matchup.
Jaevin Cumberland, the Grad-Transfer from Oakland had 14 points but was 2/8 from three. The sharp shooter had some trouble finding his shot today and it really hurt the Bearcats down the stretch. "We came out in the second half and they punched us in the mouth," Said Jaevin Cumberland on the Bearcats performance. "We never recovered."
Punch in the mouth was a nice way to put it. After Tyrique Jones got into early foul trouble and played just four minutes in the game, he came back in the second half and pushed the pace immediately scoring on Xavier's first offensive possession. Cincinnati responded with a layup from center Chris Vogt but then the Musketeers went on a 17 to 4 scoring run sealed with a Tyrique Jones basket that gave Xavier a 16 point lead going into the under 12 media timeout.
As a team, the Musketeers were as locked in as we've seen them all season. As individuals the players had moments they can add to their YouTube mix tapes including a fast break dunk from Marshall and a picked inbound pass from Quentin Goodin. A few minutes later in the game the man they call Q himself had a fast break dunk where it looked like he was going to take the rim with him down the floor on defense. Tyrique Jones had another of his signature two hand jams to add to his almost double-double that he had in just the second half.
On the Cincinnati end, John Brannen's team had some struggles. As a team the Bearcats shot 6/24 from three and were just 12/19 from the free throw line. Jarron Cumberland didn't score his first basket until 03:19 to go in the first half. As the trend has continued for the past few weeks, the Bearcats have looked to Keith Williams to deliver the needed baskets for the Bearcats to win. Williams was the most efficient Bearcat shooting 6/14 and scoring 15 points.
Xavier now advances to 9-1 on the season and Cincinnati is now 6-3. Up next, both teams have a week off for winter break before Xavier plays their first true road game of the season at Wake Forest in the Skip Prosser classic. Wake Forest is 5-5 on the season currently riding a three game losing streak after a loss today to NC State. For Cincinnati they will return back to Fifth Third Arena to face Colgate. Colgate is currently 6-3 and will play at Niagra tomorrow.