On a Saturday afternoon last December, Cincinnati’s nickname of “The Nasty Nati” was, unfortunately, best encapsulated by a now infamous brawl at the end of the annual Crosstown Shootout between Xavier and Cincy.
With the Musketeers leading 76–53 in the closing seconds, star guard Tu Holloway started jawing with the Bearcats’ Ge’Lawn Guyn. Holloway then slapped Guyn, prompting Cincy forward Yancy Gates to throw the ball at Holloway and both teams’ benches to empty. The ensuing brawl, featuring several thrown (and connecting) punches, got so ugly that officials ended the game even though 9.4 seconds remained.
Both schools would recover from the ugliness of the brawl to make the 2012 Sweet Sixteen. Holloway, the 2011 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, was not selected in this spring’s NBA draft and now plays for Aliaga Petkim in Turkey, while Guyn is in his senior season with the Bearcats.
Several changes were made in advance of the latest edition of the Xavier-Cincy rivalry game this Wednesday at 7:00 PM ET. For starters, this will be the first of two seasons in which the game is staged at neutral-site U.S. Bank Arena. Second, the game has been renamed the “Crosstown Classic.”
Finally, and most important of all, only if players and fans on both sides behave themselves over the next two years will one of college basketball’s best and most intense rivalries be allowed to continue.