The road to 10-0 wasn't exactly easy, and it sure wasn't pretty, but it was made victoriously by the Cincinnati Bearcats Saturday night. The Bearcats travelled to Oklahoma City for a 'neutral' site game against the Oklahoma Sooners. The Sooners haven't been having the best season. In fact, my buddy Raphielle Johnson had them in the conversation as one of the worst BCS teams. What does a good team have to do with teams they should handle? That's right, they should win. This game is the second best win for the Bearcats this season number wise, and while that is not very impressive, it's a good thing. To make the tournament in March, you have to get shit done in December. So far, the Bearcats are getting shit done. Let's take a look at how they got it done Saturday. Thanks to the AP for the photo up top.
The Bearcats won the tip and immediately scored with a Yancy Gates jumper. Both teams missed a pair of shots before Cade Davis scored for OU. The teams combined for 1 turnover and 9 missed shots in the first 4 minutes as we hit the under 16 media break. Normally I would go to another paragraph. Not in this case. Steven Pledger drew a foul leading to the break, and out of it, he made both. Pledger fouled Ibrahima Thomas on the other end, who tied the score. Dion Dixon got a steal and a lay up to give UC an early advantage. Rashad Bishop got his scoring underway with a jumper, and a lay up off a JaQuon Parker fast break opportunity. Carl Blair scored 4 quick for UC, and assisted on a basket to get the 6 points back. With 11:30 left in the half, it was 10-10.
The lid finally opened for the Bearcats 45 seconds later. Cashmere Wright scored on a jumper, followed by Larry Davis getting a steal and a breakaway dunk. Cash rebounded an OU miss, and drilled a 3 on the other end. Another turnover led to a Justin Jackson lay up from Davis to make it 19-10. Jackson drew a foul on the play, but missed the free throw. I love the Wildebeest, but man oh man he can't make a freebie. OU took advantage, and after missing a 3, got the rebound and Nick Thompson drilled one. 19-13 was the score into the under 8, following a UC turnover and a couple of OU missed shots.
OU cut the lead to 4 out of the break, but UC would get it back in style. Dixon had the ball on the left baseline. He started to go to the basket, a Sooner defender dropped down, when Dixon stopped, he ran away for some reason, and Dixon exploded to the rim for a dunk. Hubert Davis called it Jordan like. That's why he's my best friend. OU missed their next shot, and UC got another easy bucket with a Darnell Wilks lay up. Jeff Capel called a timeout, and was bitching at the officials. The Sooners turned the ball over, and the bitching continued to the point Capel got a technical foul. Bishop made both free throws for UC. UC turned the ball over, but Parker got a steal, leading to Dixon drawing a foul. He made 1 of 2. The teams traded misses for the next minute, before Thompson scored for OU. Ibrahima Thomas drew a foul, taking us into the under 4 with the score 26-17.
Thomas missed both free throws, probably because he made 2 earlier. Davis drew a foul for OU, but he missed them both. The teams exchanged misses, but Dixon rebounded the OU miss and got a fast break pass to Davis for a lay up. OU came right back with a bucket, got a turnover, and this time Davis hit them both for OU. The teams exchanged misses heading into the locker room. The score, Cincinnati 28, Oklahoma 21.
Oklahoma came out the locker room ready to go. Pledger hit a 3. Carl Blair got a steal from Gates, and OU scored on a Davis and 1. It was quickly 28-27. OU got another steal, but missed a go ahead 3. UC missed 2 shots, OU turned the ball over, and missed a shot. The Bearcats missed again on a Bishop missed 3, but Sean Kilpatrick got on the board with a put back. Bishop got a steal on the next OU possession, and missed a 3, but Gates got the rebound and scored. Dixon got a steal and a lay up to get all 6 points back. Going into the under 16, it was 34-27.
OU scored the first points out of the break, with a pair of Andrew Fitzgerald free throws. After a Kilpatrick miss was rebounded by OU, Dixon got another steal and scored on the other end. Fitzgerald quickly scored a lay up on the other end. Gates drew a foul on the Bearcats side, making 1 of 2. Pledger hit a 3 for OU to cut the lead to 3. Gates got the ball inside for UC, missed a shot, but followed up and scored. Fitzgerald drew another foul, and hit both again for OU. Rashad Bishop turned the ball over, and we went into the under 12 with our first offensive flurry of the day, and UC leading 39-36.
OU missed their shot out of the break, but got the rebound, but again, that was stolen by Bishop. On the UC end, Gates converted that into points with a jumper. OU missed again, and fouled Kilpatrick on the other end, who made 1 of 2. Another miss led to a Kilpatrick triple, and just like that, the lead was back to 9 for the Bearcats with 10 minutes to go. OU turned the ball over again, this time with an offensive foul. UC capitalized with Cash drilling a 3 pointer from Wilks. Cameron Clark scored off his own miss for OU to get the lead back to 10. A Gates turnover led to Cash fouling Pledger, who made both free throws. Pledger once again drew a foul as we went into the under 8, with Cincinnati up 48-40.
The timeout must have gotten to Pledger, because he made only 1 of 2. Gates would miss on the UC end. OU scored off an offensive rebound to cut the lead to 5. Cash missed a jumper, but Thomas got the rebound, and a foul. He made 1. Davis drew a foul for OU, and made 1. Bishop drew a foul on the UC, making 1 free throw, after a basket. OU missed a quick 3. Cash missed a 3, UC got the rebound, Cash missed a 2, UC got the rebound, and then Kilpatrick drew a foul, making both to get the lead back to 10. Davis and Darnell Wilks traded making 1 free throw. Bishop got a steal, leading to a Kilpatrick missed 3, but Cash got the rebound, leading to a Gates jumper. OU missed a 3 pretty badly, sending us into the last timeout with 2:49 to go, with UC up 57-45.
Sean Kilpatrick had his only turnover of the game out of the break, and it led to an OU 3. An offensive foul on Gates led to an OU 2 pointer with 1:21 left. Cash was whistled for an offensive foul, but this time OU missed. Wilks got the rebound, got fouled, and got 2 points. OU scored with 49 seconds left, then fouled Cash, who made both. OU got a pair of free throws their next trip, but Dixon got them right back. Dixon added another after he rebounded an OU miss. Blair got a lay up, and OU fouled Cash. Wright made both to end the scoring.
The shooting percentage for UC was not pretty. The Bearcats were 21-50, 42%. They shot the 3 horribly for maybe the first time all season, going 3-17. But, the Bearcats had a great night at the line, hitting 21-30, 70%, and were money down the stretch when it mattered. UC got 35 rebounds, 8 offensive. They had only 10 assists to 13 turnovers, but had 8 steals, which has nothing to do with assists or turnovers, but steals didn't deserve it's own sentence. Yancy Gates was the top dog for the Bearcats, with 11-7. Gates' name appeared a lot in the second half, which is when UC needed him, with 9 points. Dion Dixon, my best friend, had 12-3 steals, and Cashmere Wright 12 as the scoring leaders. Cash only had 2 assists. Rashad Bishop had 9, but shot 3-8 ruining the perfection, 5 boards, 2 assists and 3 steals. Sean Kilpatrick had 8-6 off the bench, with 4 of the rebounds being offensive. Darnell Wilks had 5-3, Larry Davis 4, Ibrahima Thomas 3-4, Justin Jackson 2, and JaQuon Parker didn't score, but had 3 rebounds and 2 assists.
OU shot 33% from the field, 18% from deep, but did hit 72% of their free throws. The Sooners had 29 rebounds, 9 offensive. They had 9 assists to 13 turnovers. Carl Blair had 15-6-4 assists, Steven Pledger 13, Andrew Fitzgerald 10-5-3 steals, and Cameron Clark 8-6.
We learned a few things from this game.
- When Gates and Thomas got in foul trouble, both had 4, and played 22 and 21 minutes respectively, it was Darnell Wilks who saw the most action. Justin Jackson saw just 6 minutes. The Bearcats went with Bishop, Wilks, and Kilpatrick as the big guys in this game. It worked well, since OU doesn't have a big star inside. It gave UC an uber athletic lineup as well. I think I like it.
- For as much shit as I gave Larry Davis last season, I take it back this season. In my team overview, I hoped that Larry would get back to the ways of his sophomore and freshman seasons, and for the most part he has. His defense is top notch, and he leaks out quickly, getting easy fast break points. I think most importantly, he's not forcing shots the minute he steps on the floor. He's learned to restrain himself, and that means that his minutes are going from wasted to quality.
- We still don't know for sure who the man is going to be once Big East play starts, but Yancy Gates pretty much took over the offense in the second half when OU made their run. Gates has to stay out of foul trouble though.
- The guard play has been the story of the season. Cash and Dixon have progressed so much over the summer, they look like different players. When you throw in the production of Kilpatrick, they are much more efficient than last season.
- Rashad Bishop looks like he is happy to be a Bearcat. I never thought he looked like he was happy on the floor. Maybe he and Deonta Vaughn had a blood feud for 3 years. Maybe Bishop realized that if he wants to make money playing basketball, he needed to reinvent himself. So far, it's working.
- 10-0. I mean, if you can't get excited about 10-0, then get out of my face. Right now, the strategy of playing tomato cans as preparation for getting ready for tougher games has worked. The team looked very calm Saturday night, and didn't press when the going got tough. We'll find out more with Miami on the docket tomorrow. Miami took out Xavier in Millett as you all know.