The Cincinnati Bearcats improved to 2-0 on the young season with a 73-59 win over the Jacksonville State Gamecocks (1-2). The Gamecocks were plenty of half of that nickname, as they fought hard the second half, as UC played against them and indifference. I was pretty critical of the performance against Alabama State, this was worse. The Bearcats ran away to a 24-9 lead 10 minutes into the game. For the other 30 minutes, things pretty much hung around that margin, with the lead inflating to as much as 23 and as few as 10. Against a team that was horrible, this would have been a different game given the UC effort level. Then again, maybe if they aren't playing someone horrible maybe the effort level is higher. Two or three games against the dregs of division 1 aren't bad I suppose when you team is going to play like this. Maybe if you scheduled teams higher than the Ohio Valley this wouldn't be a big thing, but that's neither here nor there.
Instead of recapping this one from the beginning, I'm just skipping to the part where I give my thoughts.
Dion Dixon, my best friend, and Cashmere Wright both had 16 point halves. They both hit the glass hard, 9 boards for Dixon, 6 by Cash. Dixon finished with 20, 2 blocks and a steal as well. Cash had 23, 4 assists and 2 steals. However, they both coughed the ball up 5 times. They both were abused by Mason Leggett and Brian Williams, who both had 16 in nice efforts. You get credit for the good, you also get credit for the bad.
Cashmere turned it on the second half when UC hadn't made a basket in over 6 minutes. He had all of his second half points after that lull. I liked aggressive Cash. If he can make that a part of his game, he's going to be very good this season.
We can play take the good, take the bad with everyone on the team. Justin Jackson for example. He had 7 points on 2 of 3, got 9 rebounds, had 3 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals. On the flip side, he turned the ball over twice and fouled out. He was the only starter not to play 30 minutes, and it was because of the fouls. 5 of his boards were offensive. He's got to be aggressive, but he's got to be smart.
In the most shocking thing of the night, Justin Jackson, yes UC's Justin Jackson, made a pair of free throws. He hit two in a row. He hit 3 of 5 on the game. That puts him at 60% on the season. All he has to do is keep that pace up for another 4 months.
Yancy Gates had a frustrating game. He was constantly surrounded by Cocks, which forced him into a 3-10 shooting performance. He hit the glass hard wiith 9 boards. He blocked a couple of shots and had 4 assists. He turned the ball over 3 times as well. If he thinks tonight was tough, get ready for it the rest of the season, 34.
6 of Yancy's points were highly memorable. He broke up the 6 minute dry spell in the second half with a dunk off the inbound. He was fouled and made the free throw. Most impressive was his basket to close the first half. He got the ball on a Dixon block, brought it up the floor, went behind the back, pulled up and drilled a 3. It was pretty. If you aren't going to score a lot, make them memorable.
Sean Kilpatrick played 33 minutes, but was pretty invisible. He made a 3 early and seemed to vanish. He had 9 for the game with 3 boards, all offensive, and 2 assists. He also turned the ball over twice. He probably should take a little of the blame for the guard defense, because there were some slow rotations. I don't know how much was on him, so sorry if none of it was.
Jermaine Sanders got the most minutes off the bench with 12. He scored 6 points on 3-4 shooting with a board and an assist. He showed off his smooth lefty J. He made a couple of strong moves to the rim. It was a nice performance.
As for the rest, only Ge'Lawn Guyn, Kelvin Gaines and Octavius Ellis played, none more than Gaines' 8 minutes. Gaines blocked a couple of shots. Ellis played the 4 to start the second half and to be honest, he didn't look that great. Guyn had 2 assists, but 3 fouls and 2 turnovers. That's growing pains. Some people are wondering why they didn't play more, but there is plenty of time for that as we go along.
Since all the player stuff is out of the way, let's get to the burning issues. 16 offensive rebounds for Jacksonville State. They missed 39 shots, so that's a hefty 41% offensive rebounding percentage. Jacksonville State going hard to the glass was something I wrote in the preview, but there is no reason UC couldn't have kept them off the glass.
Second straight game UC has turned the ball over more than the opponent. Also the second straight game of a negative assist to turnover ratio. The turnovers need to stop.
The lapse in the second half really ruined what was a sterling shooting game. UC shot 17-30 in the first half with 12 assists. They were 7-8 from three. The put the lights out. The second half saw 10-26, 1-5 from deep and just 5 assists. The overall shooting performance was great, but if there were a game UC was going to hang a big number on someone this was it, and they blew it.
I'm interested to see how the team responds to what they know was a lack of energy. Read the quotes from after the game. Cash said “We really have to watch film and see what we are doing wrong and correct it. We can’t keep playing like that and continue to win. At the end of the day we won, we keep moving forward. We watch the film and keep getting better.”
The money quote was from Mick:
“I was unhappy with some guys’ intensity, but the last thing I was going to do was take timeouts and take them out of the game. For us to be a really good team, I have to get Cash, Yancy and Dion to be every-night guys. Those guys should be playing as good as they can play and be intense at all times. They are great kids. Once they saw that we were going to win, that was enough for them. I want those guys to want to be great players. They didn’t rank us as high as they should have, in my opinion. We weren't ranked as high as we were last year because people didn't respect our talent. We have to show people our ability. It is my job. You have to get guys to play to the maximum of their ability.”
That's straight out of the Rick Pitino playbook of calling out your stars through the press. Let's see if he gets the same results as Rick.
The free throw shooting was pretty great at 11-14. Sure, Kilpatrick, Dixon, and Wright took 8 and made 7, but it's still pretty great.
The 3 point shooting was fantastic until the last couple of shots. Guys took them in the rhythm of the offense. Most of them were open. Most of them came off a pass. In the second half, probably because Paul Dehner jinxed them on twitter by saying they were 1 make away from setting a UC record, Dixon and Cash airballed a couple. Overall, that kind of effort from deep is going to win a lot of games.
The crowd was 4,542. SMH.
Photos 2 and 3 courtesy of the AP.
Box score via Go Bearcats
Jacksonville State 59
|Score by Periods||1st||2nd||Total|
|Jacksonville State||21||38||59||Record: (1-2)|
|Points in the paint-JSU 30,CIN 32. Points off turnovers-JSU 16,CIN 19.|
|2nd chance points-JSU 13,CIN 10. Fast break points-JSU 13,CIN 4.|
|Bench points-JSU 13,CIN 6. Score tied-0 times. Lead changed-0 times.|
|Last FG-JSU 2nd-01:33, CIN 2nd-01:21.|
|Largest lead-JSU None, CIN by 27 2nd-18:25.|