At #4 we flip back to basketball and one of the most exciting sequences of the 2010 season and, well, the last 5 years under coach Mick Cronin. He had steadily and meticulously rebuilt Cincinnati's basketball program from the almost-self-imposed deathy penalty in 2005. His win total increased each year and the talent level of his recruits steadily rose as well. But there was still a lot of clamoring for him to be fired. Needless to say, Mick Cronin has some thick skin as he didn't worry about those critics and focused on getting the Bearcats back to the Big Dance.
At this point in the season, the team was rolling. The defense was stifling. Yancy Gates had returned from his suspension and looked determined to guide his team into the postseason. But, Mick Cronin was still playing the 'disrespect' card as the Bearcats, while 23 - 7 were still unranked. The pesky out-of-conference schedule was haunting the Bearcats and it was completely undeserved. They had beaten Xavier and Dayton, whalloped rival Louisville at home, and had already beating Georgetown on the road. The voters were still asking Cincinnati for another marquee win. Well, the Bearcats obliged:
Cincinnati Stuns No. 17 Georgetown (via ESPNInternational)
The game was very tight in the first half as the Bearcats and Hoyas continuously exchanged the lead. It looked like a routine back-and-forth defensive grudgematch that Cincinnati loved to play in 2010. But you could finally see the momentum shift when Yancy Gates buried a prayer 3-pointer at the buzzer just before halftime. The near sellout crowd jumped to their feet with applause as the Georgetown players had their hands on their hips as they stared at the basket with exhaustion and disbelief. It was a sign of things to come in the second half.
When the players returned from the locker room the game continued to stay close with Cincinnati maintaining about a six point lead. It would be a lead that wouldn't be relinquished and actually grow. As the Bearcats' signature in-your-face defense started to wear on the Hoyas, the offense started to take over right around halfway through the second half, and it was both started and finished with the freshman sensation Sean Kilpatrick.
With 8:22 to go, Kilpatrick drained a 3-pointer to push Cincinnati's lead to 7. As the clock ticked away, Cincinnati couldn't stop scoring and the Hoyas could do nothing to stop it. The 7 point lead quickly became a 9 point lead, then 14 points, 17 points, 18 points, and with a Sean Kilpatrick dagger through the heart of Georgetown, the Bearcats quickly had a 21 point lead with just over 3 minutes to go. With that bucket, the Shoe was rocking as 12,000+ were absolutely blowing the roof off of the arena. The place didn't stop rocking as UC finished off the massacre winning 69 - 47 and totally locking themselves with a high seed in the Big East tournament and their first birth in the NCAA tournament in 5 years. Whatever skeptics were saying about Mick Cronin, the Bearcats basketball program, and the players, they were for the most part quieted after this game. Just enjoy this scene from after the final buzzer sounded:
Cincinnati celebrates following their 69-47 win over Georgetown (via BCLMediaGroup)