Recap: Bearcats 68, Wolfpack 57

Titus Rubles attacking the rim again - Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

Bearcats move to 2-0 on the young season after a hard-fought win over North Carolina State

It wasn't pretty, but as Bearcat fans we know the story.  It's never going to be pretty.  This program is built on toughness and defense.  So as the defense goes, the Bearcats will go.  They just have to find a consistent second scorer, and they just might have found one in Titus Rubles.  There was a humongous debate over the summer about who was more valuable for the Reds: the RBI producer in Brandon Phillips or the guy who is always on base in Joey Votto.  This Bearcats team might have a healthy debate thus far as to which player has been more valuable: the scoring machine Sean Kilpatrick or the stat sheet stuffer Titus Rubles.  It will be fun to debate this as the season goes along...if both maintain their current production.

What I liked:

  • Second half Justin Jackson.  Blocking shots, MAKING shots, playing smarter.  Not fouling.  Energetic.  As much as I absolutely despise the mean face garbage it brings life to the arena and that can do nothing but help the team on the floor. 
  • Sam Young errrr Titus Rubles. The senior so far has really transformed his game into the lane where he is really having a big impact creating shots not only for himself but teammates.  The Sam Young-like pump fakes are really fooling defenders into jumping so Rubles can blow by and get to the rim.  This needs to keep happening.
  • Sean Kilpatrick still under control.  Haven't seen SK go through a spell yet where he's chucking shots just to chuck shots.  I like him bringing the ball up the court and rubbing off the high screen.  With the new rules in play this season, getting the ball in Kilpatrick's hand and creating contact to get to the foul line more and more is going to be key especially if the offense is stagnant as is so often the case.
  • Jermaine Lawrence had 8 rebounds.  Only scored 4 points but 8 rebounds in 16 minutes is extremely encouraging. 
  • 74% from the foul line.  Again with the new rules, they're going to shoot a hell of a lot more free throws this season.  Those are going to be huge.
  • For at least one night, UC has fewer losses than the #1 team in the country.
  • No one had 4 fouls.  SK, Rubles, and Jackson had 2 fouls in the first half but neither found themselves in foul trouble down the stretch.
  • For a team that basically relied on the three-pointer last year, to shoot only 8 threes tonight is unbelievable.  EIGHT!!!!  Yeah, it's probably a signal that they don't have a lot of great shooters, but they're not relying on the three...at least not so far.  Getting the ball in the high post to Rubles can hopefully create not only layups, but perhaps some open threes going forward.  Never a bad thing to shoot open jumpers.
  • 9 blocked shots.  Despite a true shot blocker, that's some great all around defense.
  • Power play defense.  When that brilliant tactician Mark Gottfried pulled the goalie late in the game to go 6 on 5, UC was able to keep the Wolfpack scoreless.  In fact, UC was able to score two points themselves.  Nice work, Mark.

What I didn't like:

  • First half Justin Jackson.  This team has ZERO big man depth.  It doesn't look like David Nyarsuk is going to play much so Justin HAS TO STAY OUT OF FOUL TROUBLE.  And he can't do that when he plays like he did against NC Central and the first half tonight.  Stop with the dumb fouls, Justin!!!
  • Jermaine Lawrence dribbling in traffic.  I know he can create but not through multiple defenders.  And he's not going to get any calls dribbling through traffic.
  • 2-9 shooting from the point guards.  Not gonna cut it, guys.  And 0-2 from the foul line from Guyn is even worse.  Can't play you down the stretch shooting free throws like that.
  • 7,028 in attendance.  I really hate discussing attendance.  But dammit these guys, and Mick especially, deserve more support.  I'd imagine this is preaching to the choir as most of the people who read this are either season ticket holders or are diehards who get to as many games as possible.  I still wish they would get 10K a game no matter who is in town. 

Think that's it for now.  Very nice to be 2-0.  NC State has some really good players despite being thin.  I'm still not sure they're NCAA worthy with the gauntlet they're going to go through in the ACC but they'll have a shot.  Come March this might just be a quality win.

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