It was a sea of black, something Cincinnati has never seen.
Almost 13,500 people piled into Fifth Third Arena Thursday, an arena record, all to witness the Crosstown Shootout.
The home team, No. 19 Cincinnati Bearcats, took on their cross-city rival, No. 24 Xavier University, and the UC fans made sure their voices were heard.
Like their black shirts, everyone’s voices blended in unison as many hoped to reclaim their city.
Cincinnati fell three-straight games to their rivaled Musketeers, but that losing streak was halted that night in front of the sellout crowd.
“The atmosphere was incredible. Definitely one of the best games I’ve experienced at Fifth Third in my five years here,” said fifth-year informational technology student Kyle Klingler.
The atmosphere was not just felt by the people in attendance as those watching the game from home could tell the impact the fans had on the game.
“Even just watching the game on TV, it was evident that the atmosphere was incredible. I think the crowd was definitely a catalyst in the victory,” said fourth-year sports administration student Chandler Patterson.
The intensity of the game trickled in from the hype that led up to the matchup.
"There was a certain energy felt around campus and even within the city the week leading up to the game. That energy creeped into the stadium and propelled to a UC win," said UC student body president Mitchell Phelps.
The Bearcats defeated Xavier 86-78, but the crowd was not always loud and was not the only piece of history made during the night.
Xavier guard Trevon Bluiett was the story of the first half, scoring 26 points in the period, leading to a 44-36 halftime lead over UC. He sunk his first eight three-point attempts and went on to make nine of them, tying a school record.
Bluiett scored 40 points in the game, the second-most by an opponent in a game at UC. The only player with more points was Dell Curry, father of Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, with 41 during the 1985-86 season.
“I kept saying to myself ‘He’ll start missing,’” Patterson said. “Well, that wasn’t the case. He had an incredible game, but the guys guarding him kept their heads up and played their game.”
One of the biggest shots Bluiett made was when he made an acrobatic three-pointer at the buzzer, right before heading into the locker room at halftime.
“At the end of the second half when he made the shot, I fell to my seat and thought, ‘Here we go again,’” said third-year sports administration student Joey Urenovitch. “UC has had trouble guarding the three and it showed at the game. They were able to slow him down in the second half, but it looked like nothing could stop him.”
Slowing him down is what the Bearcats did to win the game, holding him to 14 points in the second half, ultimately contributing to their win.
Cincinnati is on an 11-game winning streak, and Xavier was the second top-25 team UC has defeated this season.
The recent excelled play of the Bearcats is leaving their screaming fans hopeful that this season is special.
“Other years, UC would have probably lost, but not this year,” said Urenovitch. “This team is different, and I think with the rest of the schedule UC could be one of the top seeds in the [NCAA] tournament. A deep run is expected.”
Urenovitch is not the only fan expecting a deep tournament run.
“I think this win will spur them into a great end of the season. The Bearcats are a force to reckon with,” Patterson said.