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Xavier slips past Cincy in OT as rivalry continues to burn

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Stanley Burrell made one of his two free
throws with 3.9 seconds left, and James White missed a leaning
jumper from the top of the key as the buzzer sounded Thursday
night, letting Xavier hold on for a 73-71 overtime victory over
Cincinnati.

The Musketeers (12-2) beat their crosstown rival for the fifth
time in the last seven years despite going 1-of-18 from behind the
arc and frittering away leads in regulation and overtime with poor
free-throw shooting.

Cincinnati coach Andy Kennedy ran onto the floor and berated an
official for failing to call a foul on White's final shot, which
ended only the fifth overtime game in a rivalry that dates to the
1927 season.

Burrell and Brian Thornton led Xavier with 20 points apiece.
Freshman point guard Devan Downey emerged from a four-game shooting
slump by leading Cincinnati with 22 points.

For only the second time in the last 10 years, neither team was
ranked for the rivalry. Except for the lack of a ranking, this one
fit nicely in the rivalry's history -- 13 ties, five lead changes,
play stopped in the second half because of blood on a uniform.

It also had a breathtaking finish that fit.

Up by six points with 36 seconds left in regulation, Xavier
couldn't close it out. Justin Cage and Thornton missed the front
ends of 1-and-1 chances, and Jihad Muhammad made a 3-pointer that
sent it to overtime.

The Musketeers also frittered away a 5-point lead in overtime
before Burrell one of his two free throws, putting Xavier back on
top to stay 72-71 with 14 seconds to go. After Downey missed a
jumper, Justin Doellman got the rebound and made a free throw.

It was a disheartening loss for Cincinnati (13-5), which dropped
out of the Top 25 with losses to Connecticut and Syracuse -- its
first two games without Armein Kirkland. The senior forward tore a
knee ligament against Connecticut, leaving the Bearcats without
enough players to practice 5-on-5.

By contrast, Xavier has won its last six games, its best streak
since the Musketeers' Elite Eight NCAA tournament run in 2004.

It was the first crosstown game since 1989 without Bob Huggins
coaching. Huggins and former Musketeer coach Pete Gillen put sizzle
in the rivalry after Xavier's 1994 win, exchanging words but
refusing to shake hands. Nastiness gave way to upsets later in the
'90s, when the Musketeers repeatedly knocked off Huggins' highly
ranked Bearcats.

Huggins was ousted last August by Cincinnati president Nancy
Zimpher. Xavier students who camped out in tents at the ticket
window held up signs thanking Zimpher. One banner suggested: "The
Bearcats Need A Hugg."

What Kennedy really needed was a win to give the post-Kirkland
Bearcats some confidence. They came up seconds short.

There were six ties and four lead changes before power forward
Eric Hicks gave Cincinnati the game's biggest lead. He hit a
3-pointer from the top of the key, had a tip-in in traffic, then
wrestled the ball away from two Musketeers for a putback that
concluded a 10-2 run and made it 34-25.

Senior guard Dedrick Finn, who counts the crosstown game as his
favorite part of Cincinnati, pulled the Musketeers even in the
second half by hitting Xavier's only 3-pointer, then getting a
steal and fastbreak layup that tied it at 42.