Rising Star: Xavier’s Tu Holloway

141562576 Rising Star: Xaviers Tu Holloway

(credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

By: Mark Chalifoux

If you needed one guard in college basketball to win you a game, you’d pick Tu Holloway. The Xavier senior has led the Musketeers to the Sweet 16 three times in his four seasons and he’s best known as one of the best crunch-time scorers in college basketball.

Unless you’re lazy, then he’s known as one of the key figures of the Crosstown brawl this season between Cincinnati and Xavier. That’s the popular talking point for many in the media/blogosphere world, but there’s so much more to Holloway.

For starters, there was his All-American season as a junior last year, when he averaged 19.7 points per game and carried the Musketeers to their fifth consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship. There’s also the Tu Holloway that’s a lead-by-example guy in the locker room, a beloved player on the Xavier campus, a fixture at the student mass at Xavier, a player that makes his teammates better and who is one of the most revered Musketeers in program history.

The most valuable Tu Holloway, though, is the one you see in the second half. When the game enters crunch time, Holloway hits another level. Xavier fans have seen it countless times in his career, most notably this season in his overtime performance in a road win at Vanderbilt or in his spearheading of a comeback down 19 against Purdue at the Cintas Center. The rest of the nation saw the real Tu in the closing seconds of the Notre Dame game in round 1, as Holloway hit a lethal game-winning shot over Jack Cooley to give Xavier the win.

Holloway scored 25 against Notre Dame and followed that effort with 21 against Lehigh to propel Xavier to its fourth Sweet 16 in the past five years. Non-BCS schools just don’t do that. In fact, Xavier’s the only one to do it in the past five years. The BCS schools? Kansas, Michigan State and North Carolina.

There’s not much Holloway can’t do. He’s a good shooter but is even better at getting to the rim and gets to the free throw line consistently. He’s evolved into a lockdown defender and has always been good at creating opportunities for his teammates. As 10-seeded Xavier goes against a very talented 3-seeded Baylor team, all of this will be on display.

It may not be enough for Xavier to get a win, but if it comes down to the end of the game, you’ll get to see the real Tu Holloway. The one that only comes out on the biggest stage. And that’s the one who has no equal in this tournament.

Tu Holloway hits two late 3-pointers to beat Purdue

Tu Holloway highlights from Crosstown Shootout

Mark Chalifoux is a contributing writer to CBS Local Digital Media and can be reached at mark.chalifoux@gmail.com and @markchalifoux on Twitter.

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