The Cincinnati Bearcats flew high last night during their 102-60 win over Mississippi Valley State last night. The margin was expected by numerous people. Mainly me so I'm going to puff my chest. I told someone on twitter UC would win by 40. I picked UC to score 100. I also said for people to wear black to the Rutgers game before UC said to wear black to the Rutgers game, so I'm on a roll. Mick Cronin also told the team to score 100. Per Koch, Cashmere Wright said "Coach said if we didn't get there (to 100) we'd be in trouble." The team isn't in trouble. They can rest relatively easy.
This was almost too easy of a game for the Bearcats. The first half was spent running some of the offense to varying success. It was then that Mick said "Screw it, just take layups all the time," and take layups they did.
It was a successful offense to run. UC shot 68% the second half and 56% for the game. UC also had 18 offensive rebounds to boot. They gave themselves a lot of chances to score points. And score points they did.
Two offensive things happened that I didn't really like. The first was the offensive set they ran with Justin Jackson, David Nyarsuk, Titus Rubles, Cashmere Wright and Sean Kilpatrick. UC ran the same 1 big on the block, 1 on the wing offense they always run and it didn't work. UC didn't score a field goal with that group on the floor. Nyarsuk and Jackson are only going to score when someone feeds them perfectly or off the glass. Give me Rubles on the wing with Jackson in the post instead of the other big cutting in and flashing. Spread out the defense and let's run some things. I hope that Rubles and Jackson didn't meet their bitter end with that lineup on the floor.
The second thing that no one liked was the free throw shooting. UC was 16-25 at the line. They shot 10-12 in the second half, but that was on the backs of 4-4 from Jeremiah Davis and 2-2 from Ge'Lawn Guyn. Nyarsuk, Mbodj, Jackson and Rubles were a combined 6-13. I think those guys shot every free throw in the first half. That's some bad foul shooting. We know what those guys will be practicing.
We start the player recaps numerically for some reason. That means Jeremiah Davis is tops on the list. Davis played a lot of the garbage time minutes and gave the full Jeremiah Davis experience. Davis was 2-4 from the field, 1-2 from 3, and he went to the foul line 4 times as mentioned. He scored 9 points in 10 minutes. Davis pulled down 4 rebounds. He dished off 2 assists, including the spectacular alley oop that he threw from behind the 3 point line to Shaquille Thomas to get UC to 100. Davis also turned the ball over 3 times. At least 2 of those were bad passes. I'll take him being sloppy with the ball because he was pushing tempo and I liked that. 9 points in 10 minutes is impressive no matter who it comes against.
We got a solid 22 minutes from Cashmere Wright. He continues dropping 3s with a high level of marksmanship. He went 3-7 to fuel his 11 point performance. Wright had a team high 5 assists and 1 steal. He really could have scored more if he wanted to, but he chose to get others involved, which is the mark of a leader. Wright had just 1 turnover, which was the result of a pass that was too cute. He tried to drive and throw one of those backward bounce passes to the wing. It was stolen, because duh he had a turnover. Cash didn't do it again. He was great.
Titus Rubles filled the stat sheet last night. He scored 8, had 7 rebounds, dished 5 assists and blocked 2 shots in 20 minutes. He didn't turn the ball over either. Rubles should have had a couple of more assists too. He is a play maker. I'm trying not to lose my head over his game because UC has not played anyone with talent, but Rubles looks so good. I want him to play more and more minutes. Titus Rubles is good at basketball.
Shaq Thomas had a pretty solid 11 minutes. He was 3-3 from the field for 6 points to go with 4 rebounds. He had 2 assists and 2 turnovers. Thomas showed off his athleticism with the alley oop and some of his other plays. It seems like Mick is bringing him along slowly. Shaq has some things to work on, but the pieces are there. He's going to be a special player before his time is done.
Justin Jackson had a hard game to break down. On one hand he rebounded very well in a very short amount of time with 8 rebounds in 15 minutes. He was 2-3 from the field with a free throw for 5 points. The two major flaws with Justin Jackson were exposed. He turned the ball over 3 times, once again leading the team in turnovers. He was also whistled for 4 fouls.
Alex Eppensteiner got 3 minutes of action. He almost got a rebound, but didn't. Then on UC's last possession, his defender fell down. Eppensteiner drove to the basket, stopped and ……… passed to Thomas for a layup. Come on Alex, you are better than that. Shots off the glass before you pass. That should be the motto.
If we are going to talk about the whole ball of yarn on display in one game like we have for Davis and Jackson, Cheikh Mbodj had the same type of game. Once again he blocked a decent number of shots with 4 rejections. One again he showed no offensive game. He put up 8 shots and made 3. There was one possession he got the ball down low, triple pumped, lost the ball on the way up, rebounded it and then dunked. Just dunk the first time! These guys couldn't guard you! Mbodj had 6 rebounds, 3 offensive. I'm sure most of the offensive rebounds were off his misses. I am wrong, 2 of the offensive rebounds were off Parker's misses. Mbodj was good enough last night.
I mostly liked what we saw from Ge'Lawn Guyn. He wasn't really looking for his shot, 1-2 field goals, 2-2 free throws, but he ran the offense well. Except at the end of the first half. UC had the ball in a perfect 2 for 1 opportunity. Except they held the ball too long and didn't go 2 for 1. UC ended up at the line, where they missed the second free throw and got the rebound. The Cats could have held for 1 shot. Instead, Guyn goes at 20 seconds and David Nyarsuk turns the ball over. Guyn did play his usual nasty defense and had a nasty dunk.
Jermaine Sanders had a very good game because that man was looking to score. Sanders took 5 field goal attempts and 3 free throws. He was 3-5 from the field and 2-3 at the line for 8 points. He also chipped in 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal. He turned the ball over twice, which was not good. I've been harping on Sanders to be more aggressive. He was! Good job, Jermaine.
Sean Kilpatrick took over the game in the second half. Killa was 3-6 in the first and 6-6 in the second. Most of his shots were layups and dunks, but he did drill a 3. He was basically unguardable. He didn't have to settle for outside shots in this game. Mississippi Valley couldn't stop him from driving, couldn't stop him from cutting and couldn't stop him from walking up to the basket and placing the ball in it delicately. This might be the easiest 20 points Sean Kilpatrick will ever score. He made scoring 20 look effortless. That's the sign of a good scorer. When all the pictures in the photo gallery are of you laying the ball in or dunking, you had easy shots. SK had a good day.
Layups were so easy last night that Kelvin Gaines got one. As you shake your head in disbelief, photo proof.
Gaines had 2 points, 3 rebounds and 1 blocked shot. His game high however, was in fouls. He had 4. In 9 minutes. I didn't realize Gaines played 9 minutes. That probably doesn't say a ton about his night. I did remember the blocked shot. It was a good block.
David Nyarsuk didn't really have a good game. He was 3-5, 2-4 free throws for 8 points. That seems good. He only had 3 rebounds, which is not good. It felt like he was a black hole when he touched the ball. 9 combined shot attempts in 13 minutes is ball hog material. I dunno, I just wasn't feeling it from Nyarsuk.
JaQuon Parker was at his JaQuon Parkerest last night. He had 13 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists. He made a steal, saved the ball from going out of bounds to Cash, who went behind the back to Justin Jackson for a fast break dunk. It was very good team work. All of Parker's rebounds were offensive. That man hits the offensive glass and he hits it with authority. He was the second leading scorer on the team. Good game by him.
Mississippi Valley State is very bad at basketball and they were very selfish with some of their shots. They had guys miss layups that didn't even hit the box on the backboard. They had a guy run a 1 on 2 break with Mbodj standing at the rim. His shot was blocked in a shocker. They had guys taking horrible 3s. They had one guy who went 3-14. It was a guy who was 6-15 from the field last season. They had one guy, Darius Tomlin, who tried to get others involved. They had one guy, Darryl Marshall, who consistently made shots. This is not a good team. Good luck turning them around, Chico. /Razor Ramon voice.
All photos thanks to Cincinnati.com.