Anyone have trouble sleeping last night? I'm going on a few less hours myself. Too pumped up!!! What a game. What a WIN! Such poise and toughness from a TEAM. This is a TEAM of guys who just want to win and do whatever it takes to get that win. Let's get to it.
What I Liked:
- Most of all I loved the resilience and poise they showed. Up 17 and in a flash the Cardinals scored 14 straight, there was a crazy stupid technical called, and UC looked dead in the water especially after Russ Smith bombed one in from about 56 feet to give Louisville their first lead since 2-0. But, UC regrouped and found a way to pull it out
- The atmosphere. Even though I wasn't at the Yum! Center I could tell how intense the game was. UC could have folded it up and crawled back to Cincinnati with a "good" loss. Instead they got a great win.
- SK was clutch. 6 free throws in the final seconds to seal the game. I was worried when he airballed and then missed another one very badly. Thought he might be pressing a little bit. But he found his rhythm. Was extremely impressive on the crossover move against Russ Smith and got to the bucket for a key basket.
- Justin Jackson is a beast. I won't say warrior or soldier because I hate those terms when we're talking about sports. But 37 minutes 4 days after leaving the Temple game just 6 minutes in, no one would have been surprised if he played sparingly last night. But he played and played like we have come to expect him to play.
- Titus Rubles continues to grind. Never impressive but 8 points, 8 rebounds and great defense. Loved seeing him take on the ballhandler at the top of the key at times. He did have 5 turnovers, but he was handling the ball a little more than I'm sure most Bearcat fans would have liked on the press break.
- Shaq Thomas continues to emerge. Two big alley-oops and a big offensive rebound and putback. This is a great development. Even added 6 rebounds to help the cause.
- Outrebounded Louisville by 11. Total effort related stat and that's something you come to expect now from this team. All effort, all heart.
- Shooting in general. 48% for the game. 63% in the second half when they desperately needed to hold off Louisville. Can't forget the 17-18 from the foul line either. How could you? It's what won the game down the stretch. Helps when you have your senior leader step up and put nails in the coffin.
- Ge'Lawn Guyn wasn't spectacular but they don't need him to be. 2-3 from deep and only 1 turnover in 20 minutes. In a game that seemed too big for Troy Caupain, Guyn was steady.
- Mick Cronin. Good lord he continues to amaze. I wrote earlier this week if it was his Best Coaching Job To Date now I'm sure it is.
What I Didn't Like:
- Too many turnovers. But against Louisville you're going to have that. And they found a way to win anyway so no big deal
- Referees. That technical was ridiculous. If anything Harrell should have been assessed one for a) hitting Rubles when Titus had the ball b) hanging on the rim after EVERY dunk c) for posing after every bucket. But again, UC overcame and that's the mark of a veteran team that refuses to lose.
- Some of the shots Louisville threw in last night were utter garbage, but that's again what you come to expect from them. Russ Smith takes some of the worst shots in history and Chris Jones with his pullup/fadeaway jumpers were unreal. But...that has nothing to do with UC or their defense so yeah.
I'm still stunned. The progress this bunch has made since the Xavier game is remarkable. Again, following that embarrassment (and let's be honest it WAS embarrassing), they've regrouped and used it to their advantage. Sure UC had some very nice wins against Pitt, at Memphis, and the SMU win was solid. But beating Louisville, the defending National Champions, on their home court on national TV is humongous. It keeps the winning streak alive, gives UC a 2-game lead in the AAC, likely gets them into the top 10, and opens more eyes across the country that this program is to be reckon with whether hey have blue chip talent or not.