Loss 9 was very hard to take, as the Cincinnati Bearcats went down to the South Florida Bulls 46-45 on free throws with under 4 seconds left by Anthony Collins. Like the picture above, it feels like the one that got away. This was not a very horrible loss, but it was a pretty bad loss. It knocked the RPI down to 75. The list of teams that's made the NCAA tournament with an RPI in the mid 70s can't be very long. The fact we are still looking at a couple of tricky games to close the season has things all over the place. I could see any scenario happen, UC sweeping, UC getting swept, UC beating Marquette and losing to Nova, beating Nova and losing to Marquette, aliens coming to Earth and making me their leader, granting me supreme power in the universe. That last one might be a stretch. People were kind of freaking out on twitter yesterday when UC lost, but as I touched on in the post game, relax. Selection Sunday isn't this Sunday. No one knows what will happen next. But we do know that the loss yesterday was not a good thing. Not a good thing at all.
If you are looking for huge culprits why the game was 46-45 and partially why UC lost, look no further than the fact the game was 51 possessions. That's the second slowest paced game in the Big East this year after a 50 possession game between Notre Dame and West Virginia. It was the slowest game that UC has played in the last 11 years. The second lowest that stat sheet tracked was a 2001 loss to Marquette. The final? 47-44. Same total points. Creepy.
UC has lost their 2 slowest paced games of the year. The second was the loss to Presbyterian, 55 possessions.
Something those games had in common was a bonehead move at the end by the Bearcats. In the Presbyertian game, it was Sean Kilpatrick getting an offensive rebound off a missed free throw and trying to lay it in with 15 seconds left. He missed, which got the Blue Hose on the break and you know the rest. Yesterday South Florida had the ball with about a minute left. The Bearcats defense was stellar for 33 seconds. Justin Jackson jumped the passing lane for a deflection that totally threw off the USF offense with under 10 on the shot clock. Anthony Collins went inside for Ron Anderson Jr. For some reason, Yancy Gates went for a steal. Anderson wasn't going to get up a shot. I was wrong to say in the post game that Gates got him with the body or that he got all ball. This picture says it all.
That's clearly a reach. Just a stupid, stupid decision by Yancy Gates. Even if Anderson got the ball cleanly, he was out near the foul line. His shot would have been very contested and been exactly what UC wanted. It's not Yancy's fault UC lost the game, just like it's not Kilpatrick's fault UC lost against Presbyterian, but the decision making late was just not good.
Right after Anderson gave USF the lead, Cash got it back for UC on a layup with 9 seconds left. It was a great shot by Cash. I do wonder why UC went so fast. They had the last shot. You aren't going to hold the ball for the last 20 seconds and get 1 shot, but it did seem UC was a little quick trying to get a shot up. But you have to score there, so you take what you can get. This is a hindsight thing mainly.
What was clear to see in real time was the horrible defense UC played on the last possession. The Bearcats went 2-3 zone, like they had most of the game. Neither Cash nor Dion Dixon stepped up to do the most important thing in a 2-3 zone, stop point guard penetration. Anthony Collins got to the basket and fouled by Gates with 3 seconds left. I don't know how to do justice to the way he just split the defenders so easily. It was controller throwingly bad. I didn't throw a controller, but if you did, I understand. Can't have breakdowns like that late in a game. Just can't.
I have no idea why Stan Heath called timeout after Collins made the free throws. None. Sure, UC didn't have much of a play drawn up, but it was so weird to give them an opportunity to do so. I guess he was telling his team to foul, but he could have yelled that from the bench. UC's play was throw the ball to Dixon around halfcourt and let him take a 35 footer. He was fouled with 0.7 left.
I don't want to start off 2 paragraphs with the phrase I have no idea why, but I have no idea what UC was thinking on the last play. There was 1 option, Cash coming off a baseline double screen by Gates and Jackson. Cash did get a little separation, but not much. Here's a photo.
As you can see, Dixon's only option is Cash. The yellow arrow is where Sean Kilpatrick is. Dixon isn't looking or throwing a pass that dangerous, even though SK got a little open. Instead, Dixon tries to throw the ball to Yancy Gates. I don't know what you expect Yancy Gates, with back turned to the basket not in any kind of shooting position, to do with the ball. We would never findout as dude on USF, I believe Victor Rudd, makes a very athletic play deflecting the inbound. Dion has not had great success with late game inbounds this year.
The thing that makes this game so frustrating was that the defense the last 13 minutes was great. USF scored 11 points. They made 3 field goals the last 13 minutes. UC didn't put USF on the line at all the second half until the last 26 seconds. How sick is that? The defense was what you needed it to be, and then it just broke down when it mattered most.
The offense all game long was pretty bad. UC went from 11:58 in the first half until 5:05 without a field goal. They had 5 free throws. They went from 3:42 in the first half until 17:38 in the second half without a field goal, socring 1 point. USF went from down 3 to up 6. When UC finally sped USF up, they went from down 37-31 to up 41-39. Of course you know they went on to score just 4 points the last 4:40. So frustrating.
Can't remember where I heard or saw this, but in 80% of their losses, UC has 7 or more turnovers. They had 7 in this one. 2 of which came after USF turnover over inbound passes under the UC basket.
2 of the biggest problems with the offense were ball movement and 3s. UC attempted 15 threes, only 6 in the second half. This is a team that needs to launch. Part of the problem was Dion Dixon took 5 of the 3s. Sorry best friend, but no, you don't need to ever take 5 3s in a game. The second part was no ball movement. Everyone tried going 1 on 1. That's what USF wants you to do.
Third problem, and the biggest, 0 free throws the second half. Not one free throw. Free throws kept UC in the game the first half. Not having 1 attempt is pathetic. Sorry, but it is. Get your ass to the line when no one can make jump shots.
Before I get into the Bearcats, how about Anthony Collins? In the pregame I wrote about how he changed the whole program, and wow did I underestimate that. He was tremendous. He can get in the lane any time, he sets guys up, he doesn't really turn the ball over. He controls tempo. He plays good defense. He does what you want your point guard to do. How he ended up at USF is a mystery. Also, Toarlyn Fitzpatrick was huge. 8 points, including a 3 that touched every part of the rim to put USF up 42-41, and 10 boards.
Yancy Gates had 10 boards and the dunk. Now the nice talk is over, my god did Yancy Gates play a horrible game yesterday. At no point in the first half did he seem comfortable going up with his shot on offense. He missed bunnies to start. He had a dunk attempt blocked, which seemed to make him not want to shoot the ball anymore. He didn't get on the board until there were 6 minuntes left. He got a layup on the next possession. Just when it looked like he was taking over, he gets the ball on the block, and his move is a step back to the foul line instead of towards the bucket. He was short on his shot. Just a horrible game by Gates, sans rebounding.
Cash made 2 huge baskets late. You can really tell that he wants the ball in his hands with the game on the line. He wants the chance to make a play. He made 2 of them. Next year, he's going to be the star of this team along with Kilpatrick. I'm interested to see how he carries that crown. Besides those 2 shots, he hit a long 3. That's it. 3-5, 1-2 from deep, 7 points, 3 boards, 3 assists, 1 turnover, 1 steal. Kind of a non-factor for 39 minutes, but he made his presense felt.
Dion Dixon didn't have what you would call a good game by any means. He was 2-9, 1-5 from deep, 0 FT attempts, 4 boards, 1 assist, 3 turnovers, 2 steals though. The Bulls didn't want Dixon to get in the lane, so he didn't get in the lane. They wanted him shooting 3s, he shot 3s. He did a terrible job of getting guys involved. Keep your head up, best friend. They'll be days like that. Gotta have a big one against Marquette now.
Sean Kilpatrick was in take the ball to the basket mode yesterday and it worked because he was 6-10 on his 2s. He was 0-4 from 3. 3 of his 4 second half misses were 3s. He scored 8 of the 22 UC second half points. He did seem a bit too content to try to shoot 3s as the half progressed. SK scored the first 6 of the half and then stopped going inside. He did set up a couple of buckets with 2 assists, UC had 4 in the 2nd half. If anything, he needed to go into LeBron/Kobe/Durant full takeover mode the second half. I don't think he has that in him yet. UC needed someone to want to score every trip.
JaQuon Parker really struggled. He was 2-9 from the field. He was 1-6 in the first half. He looked very unsure of his jumper as the game went on. He had a shot with a minute and a half left where he went up incredible tentative and had it easily blocked by Fitzpatrick. He's not afraid to pull the trigger, but I do wonder if he's pulling the string a little too tight. He had 5 boards to go with 6 points.
Justin Jackson had a very impressive first half where he went up with his shot with vigor. He was 2-3, 2-2 at the foul line and he had 4 boards, a block and a steal. He finished with 1 more field goal and 3 more rebounds. 2 of them came on the same possession. That possession was the one where Gates missed the jumper. Jackson missed a tip in, got the board again and got a layup blocked. He needed to at least get contact and get fouled. But he didn't. I do like rebounding Justin Jackson. We need him. His 8 points were the 2nd most on the team.
Thought this was a perfect Jeremiah Davis game for him to come in and get some shots up. Mick Cronin didn't agree with me. Davis played 2 minutes. Don't know why he stopped seeing the court. Ge'Lawn Guyn gave solid minutes the first half and he knocked down a pair of free throws. Cheikh Mbodj did nothing of note. Jermaine Sanders had this great picture taken of his face.
Really wish there was context here.
Credit to Karl Hess for not throwing Altron Jackson and BB Waldon out of the stands.
20-9, 10-6 isn't where we wanted to be at this point. But we are. It's time for Senior Day on Wednesday. Bring on Marquette.
Photos via Cincinnati.com, screen shot from ESPN3, box score via Go Bearcats
VISITORS: Cincinnati 20-9, 10-6 TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS ## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN 34 Gates, Yancy........ f 2-8 0-0 0-0 3 7 10 4 4 0 0 1 0 31 01 Wright, Cashmere.... g 3-5 1-2 0-0 0 3 3 2 7 3 1 0 1 31 03 Dixon, Dion......... g 2-9 1-5 0-0 2 2 4 0 5 1 3 0 2 30 23 Kilpatrick, Sean.... g 6-14 0-4 1-1 1 1 2 1 13 3 1 0 0 32 44 Parker, Jaquon...... g 2-9 1-3 1-2 1 4 5 0 6 0 0 0 0 32 00 Davis III, Jeremiah. 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 05 Jackson, Justin..... 3-6 0-0 2-2 4 3 7 3 8 0 2 1 2 26 13 Mbodj, Cheikh....... 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 9 14 Guyn, Ge'Lawn....... 0-1 0-1 2-2 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 7 TEAM................ 1 1 Totals.............. 18-53 3-15 6-7 12 21 33 11 45 7 7 2 5 200 TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 7-26 26.9% 2nd Half: 11-27 40.7% Game: 34.0% DEADB 3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 3-9 33.3% 2nd Half: 0-6 0.0% Game: 20.0% REBS F Throw % 1st Half: 6-7 85.7% 2nd Half: 0-0 0.0% Game: 85.7% 1 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- HOME TEAM: USF 18-11, 11-5 TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS ## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN 01 ANDERSON Jr, Ron.... f 2-2 0-0 3-4 1 4 5 3 7 4 1 1 0 28 02 RUDD Jr., Victor.... f 2-6 1-5 0-0 1 4 5 0 5 1 2 0 1 24 24 GILCHRIST, Augustus. f 1-6 0-0 0-2 1 2 3 0 2 0 0 0 0 23 11 COLLINS, Anthony.... g 6-12 0-1 2-2 0 2 2 2 14 5 2 0 1 38 34 ROBERTSON, Hugh..... g 3-7 0-1 0-0 0 2 2 2 6 1 1 0 0 34 05 POLAND, Jawanza..... 2-6 0-2 0-0 1 0 1 2 4 1 0 1 0 22 15 NASH, Blake......... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 32 FITZPATRICK, Toarlyn 3-7 2-6 0-0 2 8 10 0 8 1 3 2 0 29 TEAM................ 2 1 3 Totals.............. 19-46 3-15 5-8 8 23 31 9 46 13 9 4 2 200 TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 11-24 45.8% 2nd Half: 8-22 36.4% Game: 41.3% DEADB 3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 2-7 28.6% 2nd Half: 1-8 12.5% Game: 20.0% REBS F Throw % 1st Half: 1-4 25.0% 2nd Half: 4-4 100 % Game: 62.5% 1 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Officials: Karl Hess, Brian O'Connell, Mike Stuart Technical fouls: Cincinnati-None. USF-None. Attendance: 6784 Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total Cincinnati.................... 23 22 - 45 USF........................... 25 21 - 46