The first half was the best that UC has played early in a game since the Crosstown Blowout, the offense was very precise and for the first time in what seems like a month at least UC was making jumpers. The defense was suffocating and the rotations were very crisp. But then it all started to go awry after 5 minutes in the second half. What concerned me wasn't so much the offense going away, that is going to happen. Wound up shooting 58 per cent on the night, but the number in the second half was well under 50 per cent. The troubling thing was the atrocious defense in the second half. The Blue Demons shot north of 70 per cent for the vast majority of the second half and 66 per cent from three.
It wasn't that DePaul shot that well, that happens, the opposing team will always go on a run, there is rarely a Basketball game, particularly a College Basketball game where the opposition doesn't run off a10-2 or 15-4 run. It is going to happen. It's an inevitability, no matter how good the defense is. That being said a defense should do everything in their power to stem the tide and keep things controlled and as a defense you do that by playing sound defense and contesting every shot. The Bearcats did little to stem the tide of the game on defense. This team collectively went around the locker room at the half with a gym bag and each of them put their best defensive traits in it and left it on the floor. And if they didn't do that it sure as fuck looked like they did that or something eerily similar. The crisp rotations were replaced with ball watching, the solid contests were replaced with hand waving, rebounding replaced with not really rebounding. The end result is DePaul igniting for 42 points in the second half, the first time in 6 weeks that DePaul scored 40 points or more in a half, the last time was on New Years against Georgetown.That's what terrible defense will do for you, one of the most offensively inept offenses in the country dropping 40 in a half on your defense.
One of the biggest issues for UC down the stretch was that they allowed the press of DePaul to affect them in the last 10 minutes of the game. DePaul pressed for most of the second half to get back into the contest. It had little effect early, UC simply dissected the press with the pass or with the dribble and would slow it down in the half court to make DePaul defend, something they are not good at. DePaul presses to ratchet up the pace, to make the game as quick as possible because they aren't very big or athletic, but both of those traits can be overcome with sheer endurance. UC presses to slow the game down and play at the glacial pace that allows the sundry offensive sets they run to be as effective as possible. UC is currently 70th in adjusted offensive efficiency, which is a lot higher than you would suspect watching this team play. The biggest factor in that is that on a possession by possession basis UC is pretty damn good. It rarely looks pretty, it is often ugly, but the end results are better than you would initially suspect. In the last 10 minutes or so of the game DePaul's pressing got UC out of rhythm and they started playing way too quickly and they collectively mad a lot of rash decisions. There were a ton of bad shots, turnovers and terrible fouls down the stretch, the most egregious of which was Sean Kilpaticks foul on Brandon Young. Yes it was not really a foul, yes it was a great acting job by Young, but Kilpatrick should know better than to contest a shot that vigorously in that situation. Cincinnati played 30 minutes of great basketball against DePaul but was nearly sunk down the stretch when they lost their head.