There is only 1 game left in the regular season and as few as 3 left total. Having one of the last 4 end with a blowout loss to a rival is not what the doctor ordered. I wrote last night that this was a big game for Cincinnati's head. There appears to be some sort of mental block that they can't get over the hump against a good team. They lost the hard way to New Mexico. Notre Dame kind of ran them off the court. Syracuse stole the game at the end. Since the SU game, Pitt tore them to shreds late, Georgetown pulled out a win on a night they didn't play their best, and then Notre Dame and Louisville demolished them. They've lost their last 2 road games by 37 points. They've lost the other 8 games by 38 points. UC hadn't lost back to back road games that badly since 2008-09, when Memphis and Marquette beat them by a combined 50. It might be too simple to write this off as between the ears, but can you think of a better explanation? The talent is there for this team to be playing better. I know we wildly overrated them coming into the season. A lot of people did. But they shouldn't be this bad.
Let's run through a simple list of 5 ways a team will lose a basketball game.
1) They shoot poorly
2) The other team shoots well
3) They turn the ball over
4) They don't turn the other team over
5) They give up a lot of transition points
Let's run through the checklist.
1) Cincinnati shot poorly - CHECK
The Bearcats had a hot shooting first half, 40%, based on hitting 6 three pointers. Any time 3s are a majority of your made field goals, 6 of 11, that's unsustainable offense. Sure enough, Louisville held Cincinnati to just 7 three point attempts in the second half. That was half of the total in the first half. UC made 0. Sean Kilpatrick's only 3 second half attempts came way late when the game was already decided. UC was 7-24 in the second half. Parker and SK were 2-14 from the field, 0-6 from 3.
2) Louisville shot well - CHECK
The Cards shot 44% in the first half to build their 4 point lead. As they put the clamps on Cincinnati, the Cardinals shot 54.2% in the second half. They were 13-24. 11 of their 32 points in the second half were off turnovers. Louisville scored 42 of their 67 points in the paint. Through good times and bad. Smith and Siva missed half of their shots. Just imagine if they reeled it in some.
3) Cincinnati turned the ball over - CHECK
Cincinnati officially turned the ball over 21 times. They had 9 assists. They had 18 field goals. They had the same number of turnovers as they did defensive rebounds. They had three players with at least 3 turnovers. They had 7 turnovers on inbounds plays and possessions. It was forced in part by Louisville, 12 steals, but that leaves a lot of them unaccounted.
4) Louisville didn't turn the ball over - CHECK
The Cardinals turned the ball over 9 times. 3 were in the last 7 minutes with the game out of reach. Cincinnati had just 4 steals. I linked it up in the UConn post game, when this team gets steals, they get out and score. When they don't, they don't. 4 steals, 6 three pointers, 51 points.
5) UC gave up a lot of transition points - CHECK
The Bearcats gave up 16 fast break points to the Cards. UC scored 6. There is over half of the margin of defeat. Fast break points end up in dunks some of the time. They were momentum turners last night. Louisville had multiple alley oops. They had multiple fast break dunks. The crowd really got loud. UC had no answer. Mick used at least 3 of his timeouts after Louisville had fast break scores. Guys weren't getting back. They kept not getting back. It was frustrating for all of us.
Speaking of frustrating, Titus Rubles had quite the game. In his 23 minutes, he had 9 rebounds and 4 assists. He played 10 minutes in the first half with 6 rebounds and the 4 assists. He had just 2 points. Rubles was in first half foul trouble thanks to a dubious foul call that would have been #2 on Peyton Siva. It would have changed the game.
Titus turned the ball over 8 times. If that's not his career high, I don't know what it would be. That's the most for any UC player this season. Not every turnover was on him. Some involved people not catching passes. But Rubles had his fair share of bad turnovers. He was also 0-2 from the field. He's shooting 32.8% from the field overall. He's under 29% in Big East play.
Cashmere Wright was the lone bright spot. Just like in the Big East tournament championship game, he was the only Bearcat to consistently put the ball in the basket. He had 15 points on 6-11 shooting. He was 3-5 from 3. He's had trouble putting it together for 40 minutes. He had all of his 3s in the first half and all of his 2s in the second. That was consistent. Hopefully this was a turn the corner game for Cashmere and he's off to playing well again.
Sean Kilpatrick did not respond well to Louisville's pressure defense. He was 3-15, 1-9 from 3. He did get to the foul line 6 times, making 5, to score 12 points. SK had 5 rebounds. It was not his best game.
JaQuon Parker played all 40 minutes. He was 5-16, 1-5 from 3, 1-3 from the foul line. He had 4 rebounds to go with 12 points. He had 4 turnovers as well. UC had 51 shot attempts. 31.3% of them were from Parker. He's trying to pick up the burden, but I don't know if he's trying to do too much. 16 shot attempts isn't JaQuon Parker's game. It's one thing if he's feeling it, but when he's forcing it, he's just not that guy.
Cheikh Mbodj blocked 5 shots. He was 2-2 from the field and had 4 rebounds. He had 1 assist and 1 steal. 2 turnovers. Of course he got in foul trouble and played 19 minutes as a result. It's hard to count on him because he can't stay on the floor when you need him to.
I thought Shaq Thomas would get some run. He did not.
Ge'Lawn Guyn is turning into one of my favorite players. He came in and drilled a 3. He had 2 steals. He roughed it up a little bit. I have one HUGE complaint. He absolutely butchered the end of the first half. Louisville butchered a possession where they should have only had 1 shot. Guyn came down and didn't hold for the last shot. He made a 3, but that opened the door for Louisville to come back down the floor and Siva hit the long range 3. This is not the first time this season that Guyn has mangled an end of the half situation. Gotta be smarter. Play with the clock.
Guyn had this classic face when high fiving Mick though.
Jermaine Sanders had 3 rebounds and 2 assists. He missed a couple of shots. There was one possession where he ran a handoff with SK where Sanders was slow going over to get the ball and slower throwing it back to a wide open SK. The shot was sort of contested and missed. That's all I remember Sanders doing.
Kelvin Gaines got some first half action AND HE MADE A FREE THROW. First one of the season! He banked it in, but the bank was open.
Also, don't get put on the poster, big man. That picture up top isn't flattering.
I am not a fan of David Nyarsuk's. He had 2 points and 5 rebounds. He didn't defend the post at all. If you watch back, Louisville went right down the lane every time he was in because he's slow to recover. I counted 10 layup and tip in attempts when Nyarsuk was in the game. That's not counting fast break dunks. That's not counting points that Dieng scored. Layups are not on one person, it takes a village to give up a layup, but it was clearly Louisville's game plan to attack him. And attack they did.
I said on twitter Nyarsuk translated means can't catch. That might have been a bit mean. He has a lot of trouble doing the most important thing a basketball player can do, catch the basketball.
21 minutes from the bench in the second half and they didn't score. They attempted 2 shots. Louisville's bench had 17 points.
Louisville is a very good basketball team. Cincinnati couldn't account for everything they did. UC held Behanan to 4 and 0 rebounds, but he had 4 steals. Blackshear had 4, but Luke Hancock came off the bench with 8 and 2 big assists. Gorgui Dieng blocked 1 shot, but he had 11 and 9. Peyton Siva had 11 points and 4 assists. Russ Smith had 18 points. Kevin Ware came off the bench with 5 points and 2 steals. Harrell had 6 rebounds in 14 minutes. Van Treese even added 4 points and 4 rebounds. 1 through 9 Louisville was too much.
The game was such a bad loss that Go Bearcats doesn't have a box score available. I had to go to Louisville's site, which is also run by CBS so it's not like different people do it, to get the stats. Go Bearcats can't jump ship.
After sweeping Louisville in the regular season of football and basketball the past 2 years, getting swept it not as cool.
Rick Pitino won his 300th game at Louisville. Congratulations to him.
The officiating was horrendous. I mentioned it last night, but it deserves more than one shout out. This play wasn't a foul.
It probably was a foul, but hey I make the rules here. Ed Corbett, Roger Ayers, Brian O'Connell, you sucked last night. Please don't officiate UC as a trio again.
Having to burn 2 timeouts on back to back inbounds situations was awful. It was the 53rd most frustrating thing about the game, but man does wasting timeouts on inbounds plays make the blood boil.
Photos via Cincinnati.com