That is the gameflow chart from last nights contest between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Cincinnati Bearcats, and it paints a crystal clear picture of a game that was never anything but chaotic, seizure inducing fun. Maybe fun is not the right word. It probably isn't, but I have no readily available substitute at the moment so lets stick with fun.
This game was not a thing of beauty, not unless you are the type of person who roots for Italy at the World Cup or for Nick Saban at anything. The two teams which, both of which averaged well north of 75 points in the previous 5 games combined for an effective Field Goal percentage of 38.05. Obviously the efficiency numbers are in the tank for both of these squads last night. UC's average on the season was 109, for Oklahoma it is 112.1 last night those numbers were, respectfully, 84.8 for the Bearcats, 83.3 for the Sooners. The two teams combined to average .84 points per possession on 66 possessions each. In short, the fact that either of these teams had a chance to win is borderline amazing.
So what exactly enabled the Bearcats to win this game? In a word executing in two areas where the Bearcats are not exactly known for executing. They held onto the ball and most shockingly of all hit free throws at a high rate.
The Bearcats got to the line often, 20 attempts to 9, especially late in the game. In the last 8 minutes of the game the Bearcats got to the line 12 times. More than just getting to the line though, and deeply out of character with this team over the last two years, they knocked free throws down in a pressure situation. Of the 12 attempts the Bearcats made 11 of them. That is the single biggest reason why the Bearcats were able to score 20 points in 8 minutes in a game where they shot 27 per cent from the field and 23 per cent from three. They got 11 points with the clock stopped.
The other big reason the Bearcats won this game is that they really took care of the ball. Oklahoma turned the ball over 17 times in 66 possessions. To my mind that is the single biggest reason why the Bearcats were able to win this game. The defensive pressure was suffocating for most of the night. UC gave up some really easy buckets, but that happens when the defense is extended to the extent that the Bearcats were for most of the night. Blitzing pick and roles and trapping in the corners is the only way to be effective on defense when playing a team that has a clear size advantage like Oklahoma team did. When the Sooners could get into their offense they really spaced the floor well and got good shots. But that was rare. Most of the time it was a mighty struggle for the Sooners just to make the initial pass.
When you really look at this game it is a once in a 100 game win. Even looking at the box score for the last hour I am still not entirely sure what happened and how. I think the ball control and free throw rate played massive parts in the game. But I have no idea how big, or why things happened in the way that they did. What I do know is that I really enjoyed that game. After all you don't have to understand something to love it. So with that I bid you adieu until the next time with some impact charts.