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Xavier-Cincinnati ends in a brawl

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Ugly ending to an ugly game.

With 9.4 seconds left on the clock, No. 8 Xavier was up 76-53 on Cincinnati in the Crosstown Shootout. As always, this was an intense game with plenty of squawking going on between the two teams. But Ge’Lawn Guyn got in Tu Holloway’s, Dez Wells shoved Guyn and, well, all hell broke loose:

Yancy Gates sucker-punched Kenny Frease, opening up a cut on his cheek. Frease then got the back of his head stomped by Cheikh Mbodj. While all that is happening, Mark Lyons and Dez Wells are throwing haymakers at a couple of Cincinnati players in the corner of the court.

In my opinion, the two players that deserve the most blame for this fight are Wells and Gates. Wells pushing Guyn the way he did sparked it, and Gates firing a chest pass at Wells and then punching Frease escalated what was simply benches clearing into a full-on brawl. There are going to be a lot of suspensions coming out of this game between the punches that were thrown and the players that left the bench. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a couple of arrests that came out of it.

But why are we surprised this happened?

This is one of the most heated rivalries in the country. Every season, when this game is played, there is some pushing and shoving. That’s what makes it attending the Crosstown Shootout a college basketball bucket list game. When there is this much emotion involved in a game between two teams as physical as Xavier and Cincinnati are, these things will happen.

Its not pretty, its an embarrassment. Its utterly and completely unacceptable. But it comes with the territory. Its hypocritical for us to hype up how enthralling a rivalry like this — heated, physical, emotional — is to watch and then destroy these kids when their emotions bubble over.

That said, there have to be serious ramifications from this fight. There will be quite a few players suspended for a number of games. I wouldn’t be surprised, based Mick Cronin’s comments after the game, if Yancy Gates was no longer a member of the Cincinnati team. And depending on how many games and how many players are suspended, this could have an exetended negative impact on Xavier’s season.

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I have a feeling we will be talking about this fight for a long time.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: