Pretend to be a little more excited, Cash. I have feelings.
Second game in a row Cincinnati came out of the box shooting to kill. They jumped out 29-5 in a dominating 9 minute stretch to open the game and never looked back. There is going to be a post about the offense coming tomorrow or Wednesday and for good reason. This Cincinnati offense is completely unlike anything Mick Cronin has run his whole time at UC. It's like he's just rolling the ball out and letting the guys play basketball. That has turned out to be a huge thing for this team. For the next reason.
This team is playing together. If this were the Mighty Ducks, they would all be quacking and banging their sticks on the ice. Whatever they said to each other, or Mick said to them, the whole team has been galvanized. There was a point in the first half where Kilpatrick, Dixon and I think Parker all were on the bench, and they stood cheering the whole time. Has that happened on a UC team in a long time? I don't think so. Every timeout it seemed a guy had an arm around the shoulder of his teammate. I don't know if the guys are great friends off the court, but they are playing like they are. I don't know about you all, but I play with much more confidence when I'm on the same team with my friends than when I'm with people I don't know. I'm not implying Gates and Cheikh aren't friends with the rest of the team. It seems these guys are just going out there and playing basketball and having fun. It shows. This team is fun to watch. I don't care how much Radford sucks, it's a lot, but I would rather watch this team play them than last year's better team.
I'm going to have to pour some cold water on things here and talk about the rebounding, or lack thereof. Justin Jackson gave nothing on the glass. Neither really did Dion Dixon. As a result, Radford pulled down 20 offensive rebounds. They missed a ton of shots, but they rebounded 49% of their misses. If that kind of lack of rebounding keeps up, UC is in trouble when OU and Pitt slow them down offensively. It didn't matter much against a team with minimal talent, but against a team with some, it's going to hurt.
Besides that, the defense was great. The second team gave up a lot of points the last few minutes, 14 I believe, which let Radford have a better score than they deserved. Even with shooting 55% the second half, Raddy only shot 39% for the game. UC didn't give them any good looks from 3. More importantly, they forced 17 turnovers. 9 of those were steals. Another 3 or 4 were unforced errors by Radford. Not a good team.
I touched on the offense up top, but 10-21 from 3, 15-20 at the foul line. UC shot 60% for the game. They assisted on 20 of 38 FGs against 11 turnovers. It was a great showing against a team that played poor defense. Hey, you can't control if they go in, but you can control how high percentage they are, and for UC they were extremely high percentage. Especially by the first man I'll talk about.
Cashmere Wright put up a career best 25 points. He did it the easy way, going 10-16 from the field, 4-9 from deep, 1-2 at the line. He got a little too 3 happy, a couple of long NBA range shots, but man did he get in the paint at will. He was hitting step back jumpers all night. Radford couldn't stop him, and Cash didn't stop himself. He also chipped in 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals. No turnovers. I'm going to say that was his best offensive showing as a Bearcat. Easy to say because he made it look so. He's being the guy the Bearcats need him to be.
Justin Jackson didn't rebound, but I think he gave a solid 21 minutes. He didn't get in foul trouble for a change. He had 6 points, 2-3, 2-4 at the line, and 4 blocks. Kid loves blocking shots.
Dion Dixon, my best friend, had 15 points, but a quiet 15 points. I didn't realize he had so many until I looked at the box score. He got 4 of those points on loud dunks. Kilpatrick got a steal, drove down court, threw it off the glass and Dixon followed with a big dunk. It was great. Dixon is still having some trouble at the line, 4-6. Only 7 shots taken by Dion. Very efficient. It seemed like he didn't care about getting his numbers. He played and acted like a leader.
What can you say about Sean Kilpatrick? 16 points on 7-11, 2-5 from deep, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 1 block. He comes to play every day. He's been the breakout player that everyone thought he would be. More than that, he's been the star of the Cincinnati Bearcats. He's one of those guys where you watch where he is on the floor.
Ever since JaQuon Parker came back, the Bearcats have had a different look. They looked different against Xavier in the short time he got. They looked different against Wright St and they looked different on Saturday. Parker went Herman Cain on Radford, not groping, 9-9-9 high fives. He shouldn't be your leading rebounder, but he can be. He also had 3 assists. He's the glue guy for the team. Also, not sure if the Q is capitalized or not.
Jeremiah Davis got 18 minutes and went into gunner mode, shooting 8 times. He made his first FG as a Bearcat on a tip in the first half. He finished with 8 on the day. He was a little sloppy with the ball, but had 2 assists and 2 steals, so it was a win. His jumper is very flat. Don't know if it was just this game or what, but nearly every shot was a line drive.
Alex Eppensteiner saw 4 minutes and some first half seconds. He had a nice assist and 2 fouls. Eppy didn't take a shot though. Way to let everyone down.
Ge'Lawn Guyn looked a little tentative and then very assertive. He had a pair of turnovers. He had a pair of strong drives into the lane, including the bucket for points 100 and 101. He had 7 on the game.
The suspensions have really opened up the door for Jermaine Sanders and he's walking through it. He had 12 points on 3-4 shooting, 2-2 from deep, 4-4 at the line. He had 3 rebounds and 1 assist. Although he had at least 2 hockey assists. Sanders has a sweet shot, and now it's finally all going down for him. I'm excited about his future.
Kevlin Gaines had 2 points, but they came on an alley oop from Davis. He grabbed 4 boards and blocked 2 shots. He also had 4 fouls. That's the reason he doesn't play much. He's more foul prone than Justin Jackson. He did give us obligatory block photo:
Tommy G is a nice guy. Not a great or good announcer, but a nice guy.
A part of me wishes the suspensions were longer, because I love watching this team play.
Pictures via Cincinnati.com. Box score via Go Bearcats.
Radford vs Cincinnati
12/17/11 2:00 p.m. at Cincinnati, Ohio (Fifth Third Arena)
|Score by Periods||1st||2nd||Total|
|Points in the paint-RAD 30,CIN 44. Points off turnovers-RAD 7,CIN 30.|
|2nd chance points-RAD 25,CIN 14. Fast break points-RAD 5,CIN 28.|
|Bench points-RAD 14,CIN 30. Score tied-0 times. Lead changed-0 times.|
|Last FG-RAD 2nd-00:26, CIN 2nd-01:43.|
|Largest lead-RAD None, CIN by 43 2nd-14:54.|
|Officials: Tim Higgins, Clarence Armstrong, Alfred Smith
Technical fouls: Radford-None. Cincinnati-None.