For the second time this season, the Cincinnati Bearcats pulled a hard fought win over the Georgetown Hoyas. Just like the first meeting in DC, UC was behind late. Just like the first meeting, they forced turnovers to get back into the game. Unlike the first meeting, the Bearcats could not hold a lead late. Twice.
That's getting ahead of ourselves a bit. Let's talk about this big picture. Not only does this win move UC into the semis for the first time ever, but it is setting them up for a higher than expected seed in the Tournament. I think they can avoid the 8-9 line. I sure as hell hope they avoid the 8-9 line because I do not want Kentucky or North Carolina in the second round. Kansas I could live with. That's not the point. The point is that the Bearcats are winning games at the time of year they have to win games. This team played itself into the tournament. Now they are playing themselves into the chance to wear a white jersey in the first round. It's a minor turn in a season full of huge turns. This is a special team.
I saw someone on twitter complaining about bandwagon fans. Screw that. Cincinnati is legit again. It may be taking people a little while longer than some of us to open their eyes, but that's no reason to poke them. It's Bearcat Nation, not Bearcat hipster Nation. It doesn't matter how long you've been on the ride, the fact is we are all on the ride together. That train is chugging to the Friday night primetime game in the mother fucking Big East tournament against the best team in the league. You gotta be hyped for this. If you aren't, I'm sorry you hate life.
For the longest time in the first half, about 12 and a half minutes, this was not the most exciting of games. It was 17-17. The Hoyas stepped on a 11-4 run to take a 7 point lead late in the half. The Bearcats went into the locker room down 30-24.
Nearly right off the bat in the second half the Hoyas went up 9. UC scored 8 points in under a minute, in large part thanks to a flagrant foul by Otto Porter. UC couldn't take the lead and then couldn't score. They went from 14:13-8:27 without a point. The Hoyas scored 9 points to go up 49-38. With the deficit at 9 with 6 minutes left, UC locked the Hoyas up. Cash scored a layup. Gates scored a layup off a Cash steal. Gates jumped a passing lane, got a steal, passed to Cash, who passed back to Gates for an alley oop that brought the Garden to life. GT went up 5, but Gates hit FTs to get it to 3. He scored again to make it a 1 point game, and then put back a missed layup to put UC ahead. Gates then swatted the ball out of Henry Sims' hands, which let Dion Dixon get a steal. Unlike the game in DC, Dixon couldn't ice this one. He hit 1 of 2 to make it a 2 point game. Porter hit a 10 footer to tie. With 3 seconds left, UC threw a deep pass that was deflected to the UC bench. Gates got the ball, threw it towards the basket. It was on line but about 2 feet long. It was crazy close for a miracle shot. Overtime.
Dixon hit 1 of 2 to start overtime to put UC up. The teams traded the lead until the 2:31 mark, when UC took a 1 point lead. JaQuon Parker put back a Gates blocked shot with 45 seconds left to put UC up 3. Jason Clark scored a layup. Dixon went to the line and made 1 of 2 again. With the Hoyas down 2, Henry Sims got the ball at the top of the key with like 3 seconds left. In 2 long steps he barreled down the lane for a layup that left his fingers tenths of a second before the buzzer. Double OT.
You aren't going to believe this, but Dixon started the second OT by hitting 1 of 2 at the foul line. The teams played even until the 45 second mark. Yancy Gates got the ball on a quick play and scored. UC went 2 for 1. FINALLY. The Hoyas got a layup on a brililant play to tie the score. UC went to their man when time is low, Cashmere Wright. Cash didn't disappoint. He drove down the middle of the lane off a Parker screen and banked a runner off the glass. Clark took the ball up very slowly for the Hoyas, who had Sims of all people miss a 3 long. UC survived.
UC won by hitting 2 three pointers. If you told me before the game UC would go 2-21 from 3, I would have believed you and thought they may have a chance because they were just 4-24 against Marquette. It would have been a small chance. UC didn't even offensive rebound off of them, only 4 boards. Maybe 3. It's 2 am, leave me alone. I said it after Marquette, this team is gonna bomb 3s. Sometimes they'll go in, sometimes they won't. It's the offense. Don't hate.
The Bearcats had 17 offensive rebounds. That's pretty good.
This team grinds a lot, but they love transition points. 16 for the Cats. 12 came in the second half. They scored 30 second half points. 17 of the 30 were off turnovers. It was huge. The Bearcats had 12 steals. They forced 17 turnovers and had 19 points off the turnovers. That is how you win.
Whatever elixer Mick Cronin has over John Thompson is great. I hope it doesn't go wear off any time soon.
Let's talk about the uniforms real quick. Here's JaQuon Parker.
He's trying to flex and look cool, but he's wearing what looks to be a Georgetown uniform with orange socks and orange piping. Maybe pink depending on the angle. I kind of liked the socks, I won't lie. The uniforms were stupid. If you like black and gray, Georgetown and Providence have that handled. I hope these aren't brought out for the NCAA tournament. Also, the teams are 4-0 in this adidas crap is such a stupid line. Shut up if you think that is clever. It's not like Kent State is wearing this shit. These are good teams with high seeds. They should be winning these games.
As always, a tip of the cap to the losers. The Hoyas were game. Henry Sims played one of the best games of his life. He had 22-15-3 assists-2 blocks. He was a man. Otto Porter had 14-7-4 assists. He's going to be a terror next season. Both had 4 turnovers, which hurt.
Yancy Gates, take a bow. He didn't get a look for a looooooong time in the second half, but when he did, they counted. Gates finished with 23 on 10-19 shooting, 3-4 FTs, and 8 boards. He had 3 steals. Gates scored 10 straight at one point. The man didn't want to lose. When he doesn't want to lose, he dominates. He dominated today. He's got to dominate tomorrow. Make that yesterday and today. If 34 is playing big time basketball, this team won't be an easy out for anyone. The 2 best scoring games of his career have come in the Big East tournament.
JaQuon Parker just missed out on a double double. He had 9 on 4-10, and 10 rebounds with 3 assists. He should not be out-muscling bigs for rebounds, yet he is. He shouldn't be so fearless, but he is. Big game from Park.
Sean Kilpatrick doesn't look like the same player as of late. He was 1-6 from 3. He's 3-23 from 3 the last 4 games. He hasn't made more than 1 since February 23. I'm worried. SK did go 3-4 from 2 and 3-3 at the line to finish with 12. He added 4 boards. This team is a lot less dangerous when he's not hitting. They can win, but with him hitting and the way the team can grind, these could be comfortable Ws.
Cashmere Wright had 10 on 5-11 shooting. He added 4 assists to 1 turnover and 5 steals. Of course he made the big shots late. It would be a surprise if he didn't. Cash has some brass ones. It doesn't matter what he's doing the other 38 minutes, he can take over a game late. I'm very happy he's on our side. His knack for steals is incredible. He reads the passing lanes so well and has very quick hands. He's dangerous.
Dion Dixon, best friend, where do I start? He had 2 assists and 8 rebounds with 2 steals. 0 turnovers. Unless you count bad shots as turnovers. If you do, he had a lot of turnovers. Dixon was 4-17, 0-6 from 3 and 5-9 at the line. I'm going to say it, he was very selfish with the ball for a long portion of the game. It's no mistake when he started giving it up, UC started scoring. I love Dion Dixon, but when he's in Kobe mode, he's hurting the team. He hurt the team today. I'm not talking about the missed free throws. I trust him at the line. He pounds nails too much and holds the ball too long. More assists, less shots, no 3s. Tough love.
Justin Jackson had a couple of points in the game where he made strong moves to the basket. When he works on his offense this summer, he's going to surprise people. He ended up on the bench a lot because he made a lot of stupid passes for turnovers. Matt from down the drive calls him Trick or Treat. Boo.
Cheik Mbodj had no stats in 4 minutes. Ge'Lawn Guyn had 2 boards and 2 turnovers in 5. Oddly enough, Mbodj had minutes at the end of the first half when UC needed to score. The lineup was Jackson, Mbodj, Parker, Killa and Dixon. They didn't score. Shocker.
This post is 1,600 words and I feel like I could keep writing. That is the definition of a great win, and a giant nerd. Can't stress that last point enough. Hugs for everyone.
Photos via GoBearcats/AP. Box score: Go Bearcats
GEORGETOWN vs Cincinnati
3/8/12 2pm at Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
|Score by Periods||1st||2nd||OT||OT2||Total|
|Officials: Jim Burr, Michael Stephens, Gene Steratore
Technical fouls: GEORGETOWN-None. Cincinnati-None.
2012 BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP QUARTERFINALS GAME 2