As promised, here are expanded thoughts on the Bearcats 8th win, a 101-53 romp over the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions. If you want to read a recap of the action, look here. I mentioned this in the recap, UC hadn't scored 100+ in back to back games since 1976. The fact that this team, one that was so inept just 3 games ago against Xavier, is the one that is doing it and setting the basketball world on fire is a shocker. It really is. When you look at the teams that put up a lot of points, you don't normally turn your eyes towards Cincinnati. And yet the Bearcats have a great shot to hang 100 a third straight time tomorrow. Chicago State has given up in the 90s six times this season. They've given up 87 once. They've given up 100 to DePaul. Offensively challenged Illinois hung 90 on them. The Bearcats are going to score a lot of points tomorrow. It is really hard to believe. We have the video game team that I love. Who doesn't love a lineup where 4 guys can shoot 3s? Where you have a dominant point guard, guys who get steals, guys who block shots? I don't know about y'all, but I love watching this team play. I was excited for the game last night. I'm disappointed I'm not going to see the game live tomorrow night. Such a huge change in the culture and tone of this season. A large part of the credit goes to Mick Cronin. It seems totally unlike Mick just to roll the ball out there and say "go score points." That's pretty much what he's done. The offense isn't anything special. It's 4 wide and a guy sets screens. Sometimes a guard flashes on the free throw line. This is also where his recruiting has paid off over the years. He's got the talent at the guard spots where he can put in 5 of them and get results. He can run screens all game long and watch his guys light up the scoreboard. He doesn't have to worry about getting anyone touches because the players make sure they all get touches. This part of the season is like driving a Ferrari after having to take the bus everywhere and sitting in the vicinity of the homeless man who smells like pee and Mad Dog 20/20, but mainly pee. More once you click read more.
The Bearcats defense wasn't especially sharp in the first half, APB shot 47.8%, but it was in the second when APB shot 29.6%. Not to mention Cincinnati helped turn the Golden Lions over 29 times. I say helped because the Lions did a lot of that themselves. They looked very unprepared on passes and very sure of what to do with the ball. They've played 9 games. No excuse for that. Cincinnati had 16 steals, which is incredible. The score was 20-15 at one point. UC outscored them 81-38.
UC was dropping in buckets to the tune of 50.7% last night. 15 of the 34 shots were 3 pointers. They were 15-28 from deep, which is awesome and kind of incredible. They knocked down their first 5 triples of the second half. This team loves to shoot, and luckily for all of us, they love to make those shots.
What they don't love to make are free throws. UC was 18-29 at the stripe. They got there a lot, but were very much unsuccessful. Can't even blame it on the bigs, Jackson (0-1) and Gaines (1-3) combined for 4. That means your guards were 17-25. Dion Dixon was 6-11. Kilpatrick 4-6. 10-17 for those two is not good enough. Follow through on your free throws, Dion Dixon.
After getting hammered on the offensive glass against Radford, UC gave up another 14, although 3 were dead ball rebounds. 14 offensive rebounds on 37 misses is a ton. Especially since it was 1 guy who just dominated the glass, Austin Allen.
UC did win the rebounding battle 41-32. A large part of that is because UC got 19 offensive rebounds. Every starter but Cashmere Wright, and every other play but Eppensteiner, got an offensive board. UC had 19 assists on 34 field goals. Impressive. Let's talk about the players.
Justin Jackson sat a long time in the first half after getting a technical and came off the bench the second half like a bat out of hell. He had 8 rebounds, 4 offensive. He had an assist and 4 points on 2-3 shooting. Jackson didn't block a shot. He got a couple of steals instead. Jackson put down a crossover dribble for the second time in 3 games. On top of that, he dished out a couple of no look passes. His swagger is Mick Jagger.
Cashmere Wright is dialed in from long range. All 6 of his FGs were 3 pointers. He was 6-10 from deep, 0-2 from inside, for 20 points. Cash had 5 assists, 3 rebounds and a steal. Wright threw up another 0 turnover game. That's 2 in a row. You can see the confidence in his body language. He feels like he's going to make every shot. He feels like he can make any play. Mick wants him to be the leader, and Cash is doing him one better. He's being one of the stand out point guards in the nation the past couple of games. There was a scary moment when someone kicked him in the knee or something and people started freaking out on twitter. Luckily he is healthy.
Dion Dixon, best friend, filled up the stat sheet. He had 16 points, 6 rebounds, 4 offensive, 5 assists and 4 steals. Only missing the block and made 3 from hitting every line. He was cold from 3, 0-3, but took everyone off the dribble, 5-8 inside the arc. He got to the line with great regularity, they just aren't falling. I kind of thought Dixon was going to be close to a double double, but he didn't have an assist the second half. Nice all around game. That's what UC needs. But seriously, bend your knees and follow through. Maybe try talking to the ball like Karl Malone.
Sean Kilpatrick's jump shot didn't come with him last night. He was only 3-11, 2-6 from deep, 4-6 at the stripe, for his 12 points. His shot wasn't falling, so he drew fouls. That's a great sign. Kilpatrick had 4 rebounds and 3 assists, but 3 turnovers. To try and make up for all of that, he had 6 steals. It's great to see Kilpatrick keep playing hard even though he seemed to be the only guy not scoring. Mick questioned guys earlier in the season for not playing defense when they weren't scoring on offense. Wasn't the case for Killa.
JaQuon Parker is the fucking man. 5-7, 3-4 from deep, 4-5 at the foul line for a career high 17 points. I don't think any Bearcat has come from where Parker was to the level he has played at this season. It's a complete 180. He was benched last season in part because he couldn't make a shot. He was 3-20 from deep. He was 4-5 last night. I don't know what Park did over the summer, but it really worked. JaQuon transformed himself as a player. Mick said he was the Pete Mickeal of this team in terms of being the glue guy and in terms of leadership. Gigantic praise. He had only 1 rebound though.
Another career high went Jeremiah Davis' way, as he poured in 13. Gotta admit, didn't think he was a scorer. He was 5-7, 3-4 from deep. The last 3 put UC over the 100 point barrier. He had 3 boards and an assist. I also gotta admit that I didn't think he was going to see the floor much because he didn't look ready. Completely wrong about him. You the man.
Alex Eppensteiner, 1-1 2 points, 1 assist. Kid dropped buckets.
Like the hustle from Ge'Lawn Guyn. He was 3-6 for 8 points. He had a nice and 1. Guyn can be a little too out of control though. Some of that is freshman exuberance. Some of that is he goes too fast in transition. He also had a pair of steals. I like where Guyn is headed. He seems very comfortable in the up and down game.
Chris from Bearcats Nation said on twitter during the game that he gets irrationally excited every time Guyn scores, I feel that way about Jermaine Sanders. He was 1-4 last night for 2 points, but he was second on the team with 7 rebounds. He led all the Bearcats in defensive rebounding last night. The more time Sanders gets, the more he proves he belongs on the floor. If the suspensions don't happen, he doesn't get the chance to play 20 minutes and mature. He's going to be a good one.
Don't look now, but Kelvin Gaines was 3-5 from the field last night. He had the chance for 2 alley oops, 1 converted, another scored on a put back. Gaines looked comfortable touching the ball. Not for too long though because he had 3 turnovers. He wasn't hot potatoing the ball out of the post. He finished with 6 rebounds. He played well after a slow start. Gaines is going to be a force once he gets his confidence up all the way and just throws down on smaller guys in the post. Also, 3 blocks. And the obligatory Kelvin Gaines block photo.
Photos via Cincinnati.com. Box score via Go Bearcats. Enjoy your Thursday.