After scoring a woeful 45 points the entire game against Connecticut last Saturday, the Bearcats came out ready to destroy someone. Josh Pastner and his Memphis Tigers were that team. On Senior Night, it was the perfect script as Justin Jackson, Titus Rubles, and Sean Kilpatrick made it their mission to go out winners in their final game at Fifth Third Arena. Boy did they put on a show.
In front of the third consecutive 13,176, the tri-captains weren't to be denied as they controlled this one from the tip. There's really no need to do a breakdown of good and bad because while yeah I could talk about the 84 points given up, that's really the only negative to the game.
It was an emotional night for sure. Everyone's final chance to say thanks and goodbye to an outstanding Senior class. Titus Rubles played clearly his best game in red and black in front of his mother who was in attendance. 24 points on 9-13 shooting? Whoever that guy was I invite him to stick around about a month longer. He even took and MADE(!!!!) two jump shots. Not 5-footers mind you, but actual 12-15 foot jumpers. And made them!! It was magical for sure.
Justin Jackson absolutely dominated the first half in the paint. Amazing what he can do when he's not saddled with foul trouble. He scored at will in the paint and energized an already fired up crowd. Not since the days of Kenyon Martin has their been such a true fan favorite and he greeted the love with open arms in his career. If you were able to see the pre-game ceremonies, you could tell just how much his time at UC has meant to him.
What else is there to say about Sean Kilpatrick anymore? 34 points on only 18 shots taken? Truly efficient and waited until the right time to score his season high in his final game at Fifth Third Arena. Whether or not SK wins AAC POY or is a 1st Team All-American, he is definitely staking his claim to both of those. Let's hope he has about 10 more games to make his argument. If Rubles can play like he did last night for the next month, this team has a shot.
One quick stat from last night. Seniors: 71 points (26-44 shooting) and NO turnovers. Hell the team itself only had 3 turnovers the entire game.
Not to be lost in the shuffle, UC got some other key contributions last night. Jermaine Sanders made 2 threes for the first time in ages. Shaq Thomas, while only scoring 4 points, looked much more aggressive especially early in the game. Troy Caupain chipped in 6 points. Even Kevin Johnson made 4 free throws down the stretch.
We've probably overstated this, but UC cannot advance deep into March without someone else beside SK scoring. It doesn't have to be 5 additional guys. It really can be just 2 if it's significant enough. Obviously last night is probably an anomaly. UC hasn't scored 80 points since the Temple game in Philadelphia, so 97 is probably not going to happen again. But I think we'd all be happy with 77. The way their defense plays, 77 points might win them 10 more games. I know I'd take my chances with that.
Note: I'm having computer issues...again. So I'm going to cut this short sadly. Sorry, I know this breaks your heart.