The first half was up and down for Bearcat fans. Cincinnati is a very good defensive team. Not in a VCU "havoc" sense, but more of a grind you down and give your offense nothing. In the first half, Cincinnati had 7 blocks (ave 6 per game) and 7 steals (average 7 per game). They played risky defense and it payed off - for the most part.
Troy and Thomas looked ready for the big game, starting the first half with 10 and 8 points each, respectively. The newer guys didn't seem ready for a 15,564 sold out crowd on national television. Clark, Cobb, and Ellis seemed a little hesitant, and it showed in the stat sheet (all three under season average in points). Cincinnati's turnover troubles continued with 9 turnovers in the first half, though I don't know how much of that was Cincinnati's decision making and how much was UCONN's defense. Nevertheless, Cincinnati went into the half up 34-30. I felt good at that point. I thought the new guys would calm down and the Bearcats would pull away a little bit - I was wrong.
The Bearcats came out a little slow in the second half. The offense was too extended from the basket and there were a set of defensive lapses that led to easy UConn buckets. Then Gary Clark dunked on Ryan Boatright, which will be a great addition to the Gary Clark highlight real. Cincinnati never looked comfortable on offense in the second half. As a team in the second half, they had only 2 assists. Troy Caupain alone should have 2 assists in every half, let alone the team. Cincinnati shot just 39.6% from the field, largely due to 30.8% second half shooting. That coupled with a set of late fouls gave the Huskies all they needed to pull out the win.
Caupain led the way with 14 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. Caupain had a calming presence, when everyone else seemed to be panicking. I would like to see Troy slashing through the lane more. That will open things up for kick outs to Cobb, Johnson, and Sanders. He also has clearly done seem plyometric work or something, because his vertical this year is noticeably better.
Ellis was unable to do much on the offensive end. You could tell the defense of UCONN bothered him. On the defensive side of the ball; however, Ellis made the lane a scary place for the Husky offense. He had 6 blocks and at least two goaltending calls against him.
With this loss, Cincinnati drops to 11-4 (2-1 AAC).Up next is Memphis and Temple. Memphis should be a win, but Temple is going to be very tough.
-Daniele "Da" Bologna