Win number 16 for the Cincinnati Bearcats was one of the weirdest games of the season. Cincinnati played short handed without star point guard Cashmere Wright. They started the game by absolutely shutting down Marquette's offense. The Golden Eagles were 5-28 from the field in the first half. They scored just 13 points. Marquette played much, much better in the second half. They scored 50 points. A 50 point half is a bit extreme. So is a 13 point half. You wouldn't think a team with a 13 point half would follow that with a 50 point half, but that's pretty much exactly what Marquette did.
The Bearcats scored 29 points in the first half. It wasn't that great. It ended the 1 game trend of scoring over 30 at halftime. I think a lot of people thought that Marquette would make a run at Cincinnati in the second half. They sure did. It's not like the Cincinnati offense was awful. They scored 34 points. It was the defense that was the bad thing. I don't know what exactly is falling apart when this team plays defense at home now. We saw ND absolutely tear them to shreds. Marquette dominated the second half with the 3 ball and with free throws. The Cincinnati defense went from amazing to pedestrian. It was a little unbelievable to watch.
Then overtime arrived. The teams combined for only 4 field goals, 2 a piece. Both of Marquette's were 3 point plays, a traditional 3 point play and a 3 point shot. Sean Kilpatrick scored 6 of the 7 points. He tied with Marquette in the first half and he tied with them in overtime.
The game was weird because there was no flow in the second half. Both teams got to the line under 10 times in the first half. The teams went to the line 38 times in the second half and 7 in overtime. The officials were not consistent from possession to possession. Guys would get hammered under the basket, no call. Guys would get bumped on the perimeter, whistle. Guys pushed off on rebounds, no call. Then you get the questionable charge calls. It was quite ridiculous. I hope the officials don't call a game like this the rest of the season.
If this was the last Cincinnati - Marquette game to be played in Cincinnati, it was a great game to go out with. Every single player that laced up the Nikes (or whatever shoe the schools make money wearing) left it all on the floor. You had Sean Kilpatrick putting the team in his back for large stretches of time. You had Titus Rubles doing pretty much everything a guy could do on the court. You had JaQuon Parker going 35 minutes and filling up the box score. On the other end, you had Vander Blue taking over in the second half, rebounding and guarding Sean Kilpatrick. You had Davante Gardner using every trick in the book to get to the foul line. Gardner was exhausted, but he knocked down every free throw down the stretch to keep Marquette in it. You had a classic Big East game. It was very enjoyable to watch. This is why we watch the games. Hats off to all the players.
Let's talk about the individuals and other random tidbits.
Sean Kilpatrick's name is not first in the box score, but I'm talking about him first. Sean Kilpatrick played one of the best individual games by a Cincinnati player in years. I don't think that's exaggeration. He went back to Deonta Vaughn's first couple of years with the way he carried the offense and did all the scoring. When he was quiet, the offense was quiet. When he had it going, Cincinnati was winning. It was that simple last night. You don't see efforts like this every night. That's because there are not a whole lot of players like this. Sean Kilpatrick is a very special player. He has a year and a half left as a Bearcat. We have to enjoy these games because he's going to leave a void when he is gone. I've said it before, but it's true. I love Sean Kilpatrick, you love Sean Kilpatrick, we all love Sean Kilpatrick. Judging by his play last night, he loves us too.
SK had a career high 36 points on 11-23 shooting. He was 5-14 from 3. He hit 9-10 from the free throw line. He did it in every single way possible. SK was 6-10 in the second half and OT. He attempted all his free throws in the second half and OT. He had more than half of Cincinnati's points. Marquette knew he was gonna take over in overtime and they couldn't stop him.
Of course, Sean made the game winning basket in overtime. You can see it right here.
Titus Rubles played his best game as a Bearcat last night. He had 12 points on 1-8 shooting and was 10-12 at the free throw line. He had 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and a steal. Rubles was so key for the Bearcats with his slashing game. He was even bigger for his ability to handle the ball. Even with Parker in the game, it was Rubles who did a lot of the ball handling late. He took on that responsibility while also being the power forward. Rubles had not been great at the foul line this season, but he was a dead eye. We know what Rubles is capable of. He can do something like this night in and night out. With Cashmere Wright out of the game, Cincinnati needed it. I want to see Rubles keep it going like this. UC would be hard to guard with 4 guards with the slashing ability and ball skills that Rubles, Parker, SK and Cash have.
Titus needs to stop shooting 3s. There's a reason you are open, my man.
Jermaine Sanders was in the starting lineup to replace Cashmere Wright. Sanders hit a pair of 3 pointers in the opening few minutes for his only points of the game. He had 6 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block and 2 steals. Sanders only steal was with a minute and a half left in OT. It was a big one. Sanders only attempted 5 shots. Would like to see him be more aggressive if he gets the start tomorrow. Not a bad first start at all though.
Cheikh Mbodj needed to play big minutes last night and he didn't. 13 minutes. 2 points on a pair of free throws, 1 rebound, 1 turnover, 2 blocks, 5 fouls. Not good enough.
JaQuon Parker had a rough game from the field, 3-10, but he did so much more to make up for it. He pulled in 8 rebounds, 5 of them offensive. He had a team high 5 assists against only 2 turnovers. He had a steal. Parker did a fine job in getting things going and didn't really make too many mistakes. He was called for a pretty bogus charge, but that was a charge that always gets called.
Cincinnati only had 12 turnovers. That wasn't the problem in missing Cash. The problem was the offense. No one really ran it. There were a lot of possessions where guys just stood around doing nothing. Marquette was able to come back with their own offense, but Cincinnati's lack of offense helped them out a lot. The lack of a back up who can come in and keep things rolling really hurts. Especially when Marquette went zone. The guys seemed lost. There was a possession where David Nyarsuk got the ball way up court next to the UC bench. No one went over to him to get the ball. Everyone just stood there. 5 seconds was called. So frustrating.
UC is going to see a zone tonight. Hopefully they have plays to bust it.
Shaq Thomas played 12 minutes but didn't attempt a shot. He had 2 rebounds.
Justin Jackson played a typical Justin Jackson game. He did a couple of nice things, in this instance it was scoring 4 points, and he fouled a lot. He only played 16 minutes before he fouled out. Need more from him and we just aren't getting it.
Ge'Lawn Guyn had a nice little game. He was 0-4 from the field with 2 points, but he had 2 assists, 0 turnovers and a steal. He played his usual strong defense. He doesn't really play a lot of the point. Or at least it doesn't seem that he does. If this game was an audition for next year, it didn't really tell us what we didn't already know. Guyn is an A defender, he's a D on offense.
Kelvin Gaines had to play 5 minutes because of foul trouble. He pulled in 2 rebounds. Of course he blocked a shot. A solid 5 by number 24.
David Nyarsuk had a pretty bad game. He was able to use his size to block 4 shots on defense. That was good. He was pushed around a whole lot and coaxed into foul trouble way too easily. Sure, the foul on him where he got the technical was bullshit. But let's be honest, he was getting that foul one way or another. It's not like he's someone who never fouls.
Nyarsuk had to take free throws late in the game. He missed the first one by at least a foot to the right. It seriously made me laugh for about a minute. In that tense a game, it was a release. Thank you for that, Dave. Big Dave also put up a shot as the shot clock was about to run out. It was almost as funny as the free throw. Stick to the close shots, bud.
Davante Gardner is a player. He knows all of the tricks of how to use his body to get position. He was able to play physical and stay out of foul trouble for the most part. He is great at initiating the first contact, so when the guy retaliates, he's called for the foul. He pulled it on Nyarsuk perfectly at least once. What can you say about his free throw shooting? He was 13-15. He needed to hit a pair to send the game to OT and he did it. He needed to make 1 to tie in OT and he did it. He's a beast of a player. I wouldn't mind him being on our side.
The "You are fat," chants were horrible. I know students chant things, but that was just dumb. You guys are better than that.
Speaking of dumb, that student section camera. If I wanted to see a game from the student section, I would buy a ticket for the student section.
Mick Cronin's sweater.
16-3, 4-2. That game was so big to win. Cincinnati stays in the race with that big win without Cash. Being 1 game back of Syracuse, Marquette and Louisville would be huge. Being 3 games back of Cuse isn't as bad as 4 would be. This was a big one.
Bring on Syracuse.
Photos via Go Bearcats