You might have heard that the No. 8 Xavier and Cincinnati hoop teams got into something of a tiff on Saturday. And by tiff I mean a full-on, bench-clearing brawl where bountiful fisticuffs ensued and one player was bloodied after getting punched in the face and stomped on.
It was an embarrassment for both schools, which make up a heated crosstown rivalry. Making matters worse, however, was when two Xavier players appeared unapologetic in a postgame press conference and even took pride in the violent confrontation.
Xavier point guard Tu Holloway said he and his team are “gangsters” and as a metaphor said they put the Cincinnati players in body bags:
“We’re a tougher team. We’re grown men over here. We got a whole bunch of gangster in the locker room. Not thugs but tough guys on the court. We went out there and zipped ’em up out there. That’s our motto: Zip ’em up. And we just did it to them.”
Xavier guard Mark Lyons, who was the game’s leading scorer with 19 points, took it from there:
“At the end of the day, if somebody put their hands in your face or try to do something to you, where we from we try to do something back. We’re not gonna sit there and get our face beat in by somebody like Yancy Gates or someone like that. We don’t want that to happen.”
Replays showed Gates landing a haymaker square in the mug of Xavier’s Kenny Frease, the lone combatant who drew blood, dropping him to the floor.
The build-up for the melee started when Cincy guard Sean Kilpatrick said before the game that Holloway, regarded as one of the nation’s top players, wouldn’t start if he was on the the Cincinnati squad. (Probably true, given that it often takes time to understand a new playbook and system.)
Things started getting chippy by halftime with both sides engaging in verbal dick-measuring contests. In the closing seconds of the game, with Xavier up 21, Holloway started running his mouth to Ge’Lawn Guyn. The two got in each other’s faces, Holloway shoved Guyn to the ground and PRESTO! Royal rumble.
Referees called the game with 9.4 seconds still on the clock.
It’s one thing to be laying the smack talk in a heated rivalry game, but for it to escalate to a violent altercation is despicable. Xavier should be the team more embarrassed, being a top-10 squad that just dismantled their opponent. They had nothing more to prove.
On Sunday eight players in total received suspensions, including Holloway (one game) and Lyons (two). Three Bearcats, including Gates, earned six game bans.
Full video of the presser here: