Bearcats Pick Up Gritty Win In Tampa, Move To 17-2

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Bearcats grind. The one thing they do above all others on the basketball floor is grind. They grind out possessions on both ends of the floor, they grind their way back into games with defense. They battle to the end of every game. And of late they grind out win after win.

The script in this one was different. It wasn't a lethargic start from the Bearcats, far from it. Sean Kilpatrick and Shaquile Thomas gave the Bearcats a quick 9-2 lead early in the first half. But a patented offensive breakdown midway through the first half was coupled with some uncharacteristic defensive lapses, not in the halfcourt, but in transition. Ge`Lawn Guyn was caught out rotating back a couple of times which gave the Bulls the kind of easy buckets the Bearcats usually shut down. But that's effort, something the Bearcats usually bring at a level their opponents can't match.

The issue with the Bearcats in this game is one that has really tormented the Bearcats of late. Justin Jackson's inability to stay out of foul trouble. The thing that makes JJ such a devastating defender is the same thing that is hurting the Bearcats right now. He thinks he can make every play on defense, and so he tries to make every play on defense and he picks up fouls doing it. For whatever reason the fact that UC has no one but him to play the post. Yet Jackson has to realize that he can't keep getting in this kind of foul trouble. In doing so the Bearcats are flirting with disaster.

Tonight the crisis was averted because the Bearcats finally started hitting the open three point looks that they were clanging in the first half. Jermaine Sanders rediscovered his confidence in the second half after forgetting that he is a good shooter for the entirety of the first half. Troy Caupain and Sean Kilpatrick also made big three's down the stretch and then the Bearcats locked down on defense, as they always do.

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