The Cincinnati Bearcats picked up win number 7 with a buzzer beating victory against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday. Everyone will be quick to talk about the buzzer beater, and they should be because it was pretty effing awesome.
The thing that stands out to me is the poise of this team. They blew a big lead in first half but that didn't get them down. Alabama made some big shots the entire second half, but Cincinnati had an answer to each and every one. When Nick Jacobs made a layup to give Alabama the lead, Sean Kilpatrick scored 7 seconds later. He scored quick enough that UC would get the ball back. Jacobs made the shot at 48 seconds, Kilpatrick at 41. UC got the ball off the rebound with around 7 seconds left. This was a game where they had their mettle tested. Alabama may not have a number by their name, but it would be an upset if they weren't playing the in the tournament in March. They are a very solid team who plays very tough. Getting a win over them was big. Getting a win over them when every possession was crucial and the seniors had to execute, well that just makes it even better.
The first 9 minutes of the game were absolutely dominated by the Bearcats. They built a 17-4 lead. The Bearcats got 3 of their 9 steals in the first 4 minutes of the game and used them to get most of their fast break points. The Bearcats were able to get everyone involved. Cheikh Mbodj had a particularly hot start. They gave Alabama fits on the defensive end. Alabama had more turnovers than field goals made the first 9 minutes.
Alabama, like Oregon, really concentrated on keeping the ball away from Sean Kilpatrick and harassed the hell out of Cashmere Wright. For the most part, the Cincinnati offense suffered. Cincinnati has to learn to play with their stars being locked up. JaQuon Parker scored 7 in the second half and stepped up. Kilpatrick and Wright came back in a huge way when it mattered most. But this is something to watch. It's happened twice so far this season. It will happen more.
The fans were tremendous. The student section has been great all year. Keep it going. The next 2 games absolutely suck and UC will whoop some ass for sure. But the only fun part of blowouts is being there and watching it happen. That way you can root for Alex Eppensteiner to play. If the attendance can be over 10k for this game, no excuse why every Big East game can't be like this.
Cashmere Wright isn't the first player mentioned on the box score, but he won the fucking game so he gets talked about first. Let's just jump in and show the game winner.
Collegebasketballtalk has 7 angles of the shot. Go there and check it out.
Cash said after the game that he played a bad game. I think he was being a little too hard on himself. He was 4-9 from the field, 0-2 from 3. He had 1 assist and 4 turnovers. Cash had 4 steals. Ok he did play pretty bad. He had 2 turnovers late that hurt. He was picked by Trevor Lacey, which led to the Alabama go ahead bucket. I don't really like the trend of Cash not getting assists. He is probably aware of this too. I'm calling a double double this week. And Cash made the game winner. Love you, Cash.
UC as a team had 7 assists. They had 11 turnovers. That's pretty bad. Part of the reason UC didn't score was because the ball would die. Alabama's press really slowed down the Bearcats and disrupted them.
Justin Jackson didn't have a huge game on the box score, but he blocked a piece of Trevor Releford's go ahead shot in an absolutely huge play. Jackson had 4 blocks and a steal in 15 minutes. He didn't score a point. 2 of the 3 shots he attempted were 3s. He put up a 3 with around 8 minutes left and the whole arena groaned when it left his hand. He hasn't made a 3 in two seasons.
Cheikh Mbodj had himself a first half. He scored all 8 of his points in that half. He blocked 3 shots in the second, and added 5 rebounds for the game. Mbodj didn't play a perfect game. He is still not great on defense. Mbodj didn't close on Releford's 3 to close the first half for example. He made some big plays though. And he stayed out of foul trouble. Mbodj doesn't have to be superman, he just has to be solid. This was a solid game. Good job, 13.
His name is pronounced Moodge like smudge, but the announcers called him Mood-juh. It was really fucking annoying. There is a pronunciation guide in the game notes. Use it.
Sean Kilpatrick getting to the free throw line makes me happy. He was 4-11 from the field and 4-5 at the line. The free throw he missed was kind of big, the score was tied with 41 seconds left, but he hit the other 4. He scored 4 of the last 8 points. I think we can pencil in 5 rebounds and 2 assists every game. Sean Kilpatrick is really good at basketball. Enjoy him while you can.
JaQuon Parker was there for the Bearcats when they needed someone to score early in the second half. He had all of his second half points in the first 8 minutes. He had 13 for the game. He led the team with 6 rebounds. Parker was 6-12 from the field. He isn't afraid to be the guy to score. You have to love that about him. He will fit any role Mick Cronin asks him to. All of his success makes his sophomore year all the more perplexing. Maybe he needed that to become the player he is today.
Stone faced, fist pumping JaQuon Parker is the best.
Speaking of guys who aren't afraid to shoot, Titus Rubles put up a team high 14 shots. He was 3-7 for 8 points in the first half. He was 1-7 for 2 points in the second half. When he made his 1 second half field goal was much more important the ones he missed. He made the game tying bucket with 1:04 left. That wipes out the 6 misses for me. Rubles led the team with 3 steals. He also pulled in 5 rebounds. Titus goes all out.
I don't know what's up with his 3 point shot though. It looks awful. He airballed one from the left corner. He's 1-12 this season. We know he can make them. He's just not right now.
Ge'Lawn Guyn made a pretty big basket in the second half. He got the rebound after the miss which set UC up to win the game. He played that Ge'Lawn Guyn defense we all love to see and had a steal. Thumbs up, Ge'Lawn.
Jermaine Sanders scored 4 points in 9 minutes. He made 1 field goal, this layup that put UC ahead 48-47.
If you are going only make 1 shot, do it on a reverse layup right in front of the Go Bearcats photographer. Good job, Jermaine.
David Nyarsuk played when Cheikh Mbodj was tired. That's about all he did. 2 of his 3 rebounds came after he got a rebound, missed a put back, got a rebound and missed a put back. He might have been fouled on the second shot attempt.
Cincinnati was 10-14 at the free throw line and 2-11 from 3. If you told me they attempted more free throws than 3 pointers and that number was under 15, I would have assumed that UC lost. This team doesn't have to revolve around the 3 point shot. That's a good thing.
Trevor Lacey and Trevor Releford went for 28 of the Alabama 56. Lacey looked to be unguardable. He is very good. Releford didn't have the shot going, but had 3 steals. The Tide can go far on the backs of those 2. Anthony Grant knows what he's doing.