"Cincinnati Bearcats Basketball: It's Never Pretty". I'd buy a shirt because I'd be able to wear that thing forever. Seemingly since the day Huggins walked through the door, that's been UC's motto. I think it's working. Sure, it's not sexy, but it certainly has been effective and, well, effective is always better than stylish.
Much like the Rutgers game, for 30 minutes the game was still up in the air. This one took a little longer to put away though, but eventually the Bearcats pulled it out, not before many people pulled their hair out. But again, learning lessons while winning is always better than learning those same lessons in a loss. Mick will definitely have plenty of things to point on after re-watching the tape.
Things I Liked:
- Where in the world have you been, Sean Kilpatrick (asked the same thing on twitter last night but with a few more colorful words)? Good lord was he huge last night. If not for his shooting, UC loses that game without question. I don't think we need to spend a lot of time discussing this. Let's just hope this SK decides to stick around for another 20 games or so.
- Second half Titus Rubles. Titus is a whipping boy for some, especially on offense and deservedly so. He has without a doubt the ugliest shot in the history of basketball. And quite honestly any shot outside of 5 feet is a turnover in my mind. In the first half he provided plenty of fodder for his detractors. No points, several awful turnovers, it was his worst performance in quite a while. But boy did he ever respond in the second half to the tune of 13 points and 7 rebounds. Titus doesn't score 13 points in a week of games normally, but his 13 in 20 minutes were huge, especially 7-7 from the foul line.
- Justin Jackson still has his moments of - (how should I say this?) - mindlessness. He still makes you scratch your head at times, but he is more than making up for it with his energy and dynamic play. 6-9 from the field with 10 rebounds and 6 blocks make for a very solid night for the senior center, who as usual revved up the crowd with his emotions and faces. I love that he shot 9 free throws. However, I don't like that he only made 3. He's going to keep going to the line so he has to get that percentage up.
- Shaq Thomas likes him some spin moves. And boy was that another beautiful one last night. Sure I would like more than 4 points from the talented sophomore, but he chipped in some solid defense and 4 rebounds with 3 assists. Again, Shaq sometimes goes a whole week without collecting anything but points and puzzled faces from Mick (and Bearcat fans). He's making progress...at least that's what I'm telling myself.
- UC finally hit the glass in the second half. At halftime they were losing the rebound battle by 6, so to win the overall edge by 2, they had to really crash the boards in the final 20 minutes and that's what they did.
- 16 assists on 23 baskets. For as much standing around as they did at times, they certainly started working the ball better in the second half for easier buckets. Many times they made the extra pass for a dunk or wide open three and it was beautiful.
What I Didn't Like:
- Aside from 5 assists from Troy Caupain and one made three from Kevin Johnson, it was not a good night for UC's freshmen. Kevin Johnson's problems started in the lockerroom when he forgot to even put his jersey on. This delayed his entry into the game by about 5 minutes, something Mick was none too pleased with. Caupain couldn't get a shot to fall and at times looked lost out on the court. But hey, they're rookies so you have to understand there are growing pains.
- Every shot Ge'Lawn Guyn takes seems to be contested. I'm not sure that's right, but it just seems that way. And there's no reason in the world for him shooting 4 threes especially if he misses them all. I'm sure his shoulder is bothering him so I get that, but he's still starting and playing 20 minutes a night so it can't be that bad I guess. Although after watching Troy play defense though, I can see why Guyn gets his time on the floor.
- Sloppy play. At times you wonder if some of these guys just started playing last week with the awful decisions they make. UC turned the ball over in 3 of its first 4 possessions and we all should have just known then it wasn't going to be easy. "Fake a pass, make a pass" was definitely not in the cards last night. I can't tell you how many lob passes over jumping defenders there were. Too many to count.
- Would have liked to see more than 6 minutes from David Nyarsuk, but until the very end Jackson wasn't in foul trouble so I get that as well. But Dave does seem to pump a little life into the crowd when he gets off the bench to check in.
All in all it really wasn't a bad performance. They won by 11 for crying out loud. That's Temple's biggest loss in conference play and they're 0-5. I have to admit I'm not a fan of having Temple back in the same conference with UC. It just seems like a lose hair and years off my life every time UC plays them. Anyway...16-2, 5-0 with another deliberate style coming up on Saturday. UC gets to go to USF and play the Bulls. Fun.