The Bearcats picked up win #22 with a 61-44 win over Providence to kick off the UC Big East tournament run. The win is going to definitely send Cincinnati dancing. It will send Providence to the NIT probably. The Bearcats won at least 1 game in each of the last 4 Big East tournaments. Providence lost their last 3 by 32, 19 and now 17. This game also keeps the trend of UC scoring 61 points in regulation guaranteeing them a win alive. It's flukey.
UC raced out to a huge 13-2 lead and never looked back. Providence was able to cut the lead to single digits, but Cincinnati always answered with a mini-run to get back on track. The times it looked like PC was going to threaten, Sean Kilpatrick would hit a 3 or someone would get an offensive rebound and score. The Bearcats have struggled to put teams away, but they did it today with relative ease. Out of all the ways to start the Big East tournament, this was the best one!
The Bearcats play #1 seed Georgetown at noon tomorrow. Same time, same channel.
The defense today was outstanding. Holding anyone to 44 points is very impressive. PC had an offensive efficiency of 71.7. That is very low. PC started off bricking shots, they ended the game bricking shots. The Cats didn't forced a lot of turnovers, but the bad shots the Friars were forced into were practically the same. It was a smothering effort. Defense can travel. It looks like Cincinnati's has. At least for today.
UC had been battling turnovers and they cut that a lot today. During the PC run, UC couldn't handle the PC press. Eventually the Bearcats figured it out. UC had 9 turnovers. 5 of those were steals. That's an improvement.
Titus Rubles had a very quiet game with 2 points, 2 boards and 1 assist. His assist was an alley oop to Mbodj for an exclamation mark. It was nice.
Sean Kilpatrick wasn't very efficient, 6-16, 2-6 from 3, but man did he make the big shots when it mattered most. It's not how many you make, it's when you make them. Every time PC showed fight, SK knocked them down. PC had a steal and possession when they could have cut the score to 9, SK went the other with with an and 1 to make the lead 14. Kilpatrick hit 3s to make the lead 8 and 9 in the second half. He steps up when someone has to step up. It isn't great that he's turned into a volume shooter, but at least he's making them.
Cashmere Wright got into some first half foul trouble that cut his minutes some. He finished with 6 points on 2-6, 0-2 from 3, 2-2 at the line. More importantly, he had 5 assists against 1 turnover. Cash ran the offense very well when he was on the floor. We are going to need that leadership tomorrow.
The play early in the second half where Cash went to the post to block out on a rebound, got in the box out position, then cowered away from Henton while trying to avoid his 3rd foul was hilarious. I wish there was a gif of it.
Cheikh Mbodj's performance over the last 2 games is exactly what UC needs from him. He had 8 points, 7 rebounds and 6 blocks. He got in a bit of foul trouble, but damn was it worth it because he completely dominated and intimidated the Friar front line. He's blocked shots all season, no matter if he was playing well or not. The last 2 games he's cashed in on easy opportunities and made free throws. He's hit the glass as well. That's all UC needs. He doesn't have to be Danny Fortson. He doesn't have to be Jason Maxiell. He doesn't have to be Kenyon Martin. He just has to be Cheikh Mbodj. We've seen it work. Keep it going.
JaQuon Parker got off to a hot start. He went 4-4 for 10 points as UC opened up the can of whoop ass on PC early. Parker finished with 15 points. He posted his second career double double with 10 rebounds. Both have come this season. Both have come against Providence. He likes the Friars.
Shaquille Thomas got a lot of run today and boy oh boy did he show that he needs more. He had 8 rebounds, 4 offensive. He had 5 points on 2-7 shooting. He was 1-2 from the line. He is still a little out of control on his drives and therefore has some trouble finishing. But Thomas has moves that no one else on the team has. Shaq brings something else to the table. When he's rebounding like he was today, he's going to play.
Justin Jackson returned to the lineup. He had 5 rebounds and blocked a shot. Jackson also set an illegal screen. It was like he never left. Welcome back, JJ.
Mick said after the game he likes Rubles and Thomas at the 4. That means Jackson is the backup center. How long have I been saying Rubles and Jackson should play together? Exhibition season? It seems like it. Even a couple weeks ago before the UConn game, I said that I would play Thomas and Rubles more, Jackson at the 5 and not play Big Dave at all. Mick pretty much said that today. Thanks for finding the blog, Mick. Wish you found it sooner.
GeLawn Guyn had 4 fouls in like 10 minutes of play. Calm down, Ge'Lawn.
Jermaine Sanders shot the ball a lot. He was 2-8, 1-3, 1-2 at the line. He scored 6. Sanders had 3 offensive rebounds. You would like to see him make more layups. He missed at least 3.
Cincinnati's bench scored 13 points and had 16 rebounds. That'll do.
Kadeem Batts went off for 25-9 in the first meeting. He had 14-8 in this one. He was 6-17 from the field. UC did a much better job on him in this game.
Bryce Cotton was 5-15, 0-7 from 3. Vincent Council was 1-7. Josh Fortune was 1-6, 1-5 from 3. That's pretty good defense.
These uniforms. Ugh. They are for the players and recruits, but adidas is ruining basketball. Stop being out there just to be out there. Make uniforms that actually look good.
No need to be nervous about making the dance any longer. We can sit back and watch the Cats beat Georgetown.
Photos via ESPN. Box score via SI
|Rubles F||1-2||0-0||0-0||2 (0/2)||1||0||0||1||1||2|
|Mbodj C||3-6||0-0||2-2||7 (1/6)||0||0||5||1||4||8|
|Kilpatrick G||6-16||2-6||3-4||4 (0/4)||1||1||0||2||1||17|
|Parker G||5-9||2-3||3-5||10 (2/8)||3||1||0||0||3||15|
|Wright G||2-6||0-3||2-2||3 (0/3)||5||1||0||1||3||6|
|Henton F||4-15||0-2||0-1||8 (3/5)||2||1||0||0||4||8|
|Batts F||6-17||0-1||2-2||8 (5/3)||0||1||1||3||3||14|
|Cotton G||5-15||0-7||2-4||4 (1/3)||1||1||0||1||2||12|
|Council G||1-7||0-1||1-2||2 (1/1)||5||2||0||2||4||3|
|Dunn G||1-4||0-0||2-2||7 (3/4)||3||0||0||1||4||4|