Nip and tuck. In the run up to the game the assumption was that the Bearcats defense would force the Cougars hands offensively into a series of highly contested perimeter shots. Thats not what happened though; Justin Jackson got in immediate foul trouble and played only 5 minutes in the first half. The defense fell apart in every imaginable way, bad switches, guys stuck in no man's land and an overextended defense meant that for a third straight games the Bearcats entered the half with a deficit. That's not actually true, a late Sean Kilpatrick three capping a 7-0 run gave UC a 29-28 lead that they didn't really deserve. There is really no way around it, the defense was pretty bad today.
At home, Cincinnati hasn't allowed an opponent to hit the 1.00 point per possession mark in a year. Houston at 1.23 PPP right now.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) February 15, 2014
In the second half Justin Jackson played 15 minutes, and that predictably had a positive effect on the defense. But it still wasn't great, the switches were sort of random and the rotations were a mess yielding a ton of layups for the Cougars while the Bearcats usual maladies on offense lead to a whole lot of bad offense. Eventually UC settled down and got the Cougars somewhat in control.
1.127. Ended Cincinnati's streak. RT @BearcatsBlog: what did Houston's ppp finish at?— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) February 15, 2014
For a change the offense sealed the deal for the Bearcats. It was not pretty, it never is, but the offense produced by far their most efficient game of the season scoring 1.35 points per possession. That PPP is the highest of the year by far, and the best since a December 2011 thrashing of Chicago State*, and they did it in the most UC way imaginable. The Bearcats went back to the Bob Huggins school of offense; put something on the glass then go get it. The Bearcats rebounded a hilarious 49 percent of their misses and produced 18 second chance points. That is why they won, and why they often win, but its a style that can allow inferior teams to hang around especially if the defense falls off a cliff as it did today.
* Its also the best offensive performance in conference since I was in high school, way back in 2004.
The Bearcats won three of the four factors, which will always put you in the drivers seat. The final score is probably more in line with the final score than the experience of watching the game would indicate. Because we are so used to seeing the defense turn it up to 11 so often, it makes it seem common place when it was anything but. It is telling that it took such a flurry of action and effort on that end to bring the Cougars offensive efficiency down to 114.8, roughly 25 points more than the Bearcats allow per game. Stop me if you have heard this before, but the Bearcats defense was really, really bad today. If it was not for the stellar play of the offense in general, and Sean Kilpatrick in particular this would have been a RPI killing loss.
No point in spending a ton of time on SK, because he was incredibly efficient, as he has been for most of the last month. Offensive rating north of 120, true shooting percentage in the high fifties, assist to turnover ratio over 1.0 all the things we have come to expect from Kila, and he did most of his damage in the second half. I shudder to think where this team would be without SK.