12 point lead over Connecticut. Shots are falling. Bearcats feeding off the energy of the crowd, and vice versa. Bearcats finally cruise to an easy win; just the thing they needed. Right? Well, as we Bearcat fans come to realize: nothing is ever easy. Not this year. Not this team.
But...no matter how they did it, they won. And a win is all that matters today. It's all that really mattered yesterday at 4:15. They got off to their typically slow start. They suffered horrendous lapses in offensive execution. Struggled at the free throw line (well mostly Jaquon Parker). They took some of the most god-awful, head-scratching shots (Cashmere Wright from 35 feet with 20 seconds on the shot clock). They took three after three after three after being up 12 points...then watching it dwindle to two. They inexplicably threw the inbounds pass away with 13 seconds left giving UConn a chance to actually take the lead and left the entire fan base pulling out its collective hair.
I'm still not sure how - aside from Titus Rubles coming up with perhaps the defensive deflection of the year on that ensuing inbounds pass - they did it. But 61-56 with the Bearcats reaching their 60-point guaranteed win mark apparently equals a win. And again, that's all anyone really cares about. Come Monday night at 7:00 at the Yum! Center in Louisville, no one will give a crap about how they beat Connecticut.
The win takes a huge monkey of this team's back. Well, I assume it does. They were struggling mightily during the 3-game losing streak. But aside from the Notre Dame game, they were right there until the final minutes when this year's version of the Bearcats always seem to crumble. But, a tight win maybe gives them some more confidence down the stretch. Many "experts" claim yesterday's win coupled with what everyone assumes will be a win over South Florida next Saturday will put the Bearcats as a "lock" for the NCAA Tournament. 9-9 with their out of conference wins and RPI (the committee still does look to it) should put UC safely in the field of 68.
The only thing I'd argue is with Mike Bobinski on that committee, he might try one more thing to screw UC on his way out of Xavier and on to his new gig at Georgia Tech. So let's just go ahead and beat Louisville who will be riding high after knocking off Syracuse at the Carrier Dome Saturday. Sounds like a great idea!
Either way, I'm not sure about you, but I'm breathing a hell of a lot easier this morning after a big win yesterday.