First off I want to apologize for the lack of a gamethread and post game coverage yesterday. The combination of a family gathering coupled nicely with a really convenient power outage prevented me from getting to watch the game live. I finally got around to it today and here are my (belated) thoughts on the matter.
This kind of game is becoming a calling card of this Bearcats team. Pitt narrowly shot the ball better from the field than the Bearcats (41.1 to 40 per cent), and out rebounded the Bearcats handily (44-30, 18-15 offensive). And yet the Bearcats came up with a crucial road win to open Big East play winning 66 to 63. This is a weird, weird game sometimes.
The biggest factor in the win was the Bearcats shooting from deep, which kept them in the game in the first half when the Panthers really threatened to turn the game into a laugher . Whats most impressive to me is the way the Bearcats are winning games right now. Its different every time. During the last 6 games they have won some games with nothing but offense, some with defense and some games with free throw shooting, (of all things for this team)
Watching the game the biggest reason to my mind, is that Pitt simply couldn't get into their offense with any consistency. Part of that is the ongoing injury related absence of Travon Woodall which has really robbed the Panthers of their only option at Point Guard. But the bigger part was the myriad of looks the Bearcats threw their way 2-3 and 3-2 zones, pressing full court and good old fashioned man to man. The Bearcats ruthlessly attacked the rudderless ship that is the Pitt offense sans Woodall. The Panthers turned the ball over on 27 per cent of their offensive possessions, 17 in total, 11 of them were steal, four of them from Cashmere Wright. And the Bearcats dutifully transformed those 17 turnovers into 20 points.
The other thing that stood out to me was the three point shooting. As I mentioned in my preview the Panthers have not defended the three well this year at all particularly in their losses. UC made a concerted effort to attack that aspect of the Pitt defense, rather than attacking in the paint where the Panthers have a massive size advantage. UC put up 27 threes on the day, that's 40 per cent of all field goals attempted for the Bearcats. Whats more they made 40 per cent of their attempts from three which is excellent.
Jaquan Parker and Sean Kilpatrick really provided the punch on offense. 40 points between them on 51 per cent shooting but Cashmere Wright's contributions have been a little overlooked in the aftermath. Cash didn't shoot the ball very well, he really hasn't at all this season. But he has made timely shots. But what has really become obvious is that Cash is now a true point guard. He had 7 more assists against 1 turnover, and he was personally +3 in the turnover margin with 4 steals against the Panthers overwhelmed guards. Since the suspensions Cashmere Wrights turnover to assist ratio is 38/6. You simply can't play better than that as a point guard.
I love this team right now.