Win 12 and Big East win number 2 was relatively easy all things considered. The big story going into the game and all the eyes were on Yancy Gates. He played 20 minutes and played pretty well. But the biggest story coming out of the game was that the Bearcat machine keeps rolling on. This is 7 wins in a row for a team that looked like they were just not that great the first 8 games of the season. Whatever happened with the team after the Xavier game has really brought them together. I know that sounds cliche, but you can see it on the court. Guys are searching each other out after plays. They are picking each other up when they need a boost. They have rallied around each other, and that has resulted in rallying around winning. The Bearcats have another home game on Saturday against St John’s before the grinder of the Big East really kicks in. Every win and every game has me thinking more and more that this Cincinnati team can make something happen.
First off, Dion Dixon, my best friend, became the 43rd Bearcat to score 1,000 points. In a career, obviously not last night. That would have been a record. Congrats, Dion.
The game seemed a little weird for a while. UC dominated the first half, jumping out 11-4 and led by as much as 13. ND cut it to 10 by the half. UC jumped on the Irish to start the second half, just like good teams do. ND cut the lead to 10, UC moved it back to 14. ND chipped away again to cut the lead to 8. That’s when Dion Dixon answered with a 3 that put UC up 11. After that it was never close. UC was dominating, but it seemed like the Irish hung around. But the Bearcats bopped them back down. It was a solid effort. Good teams win games like that.
The Bearcats defense was very solid all night long. The Irish took 28 shots from 3, only making 5. ND only hit 33% from the field. The Bearcats forced the Irish into 13 turnovers. ND only averaged 9 a game going into this season. 11 of those were UC steals. The Irish had no answer to the Bearcats defense. Efforts like last night will go a long way in further success.
If you were wondering what the Bearcats offense would be like when the 3 pointers stopped, you have your answer. UC was 8-27 from deep. They countered that by being 17-30 on 2 pointers. That’s highly efficient. A play that seemed to work like gang busters was a simple one. UC would take pretty much anyone but Eric Atkins up top and then take them to the basket. Alex Dragicevich was the one who was mainly abused. Scott Martin got him some as well. The Bearcats made their comeback in the regular season abusing ND on screen and rolls. Last night wasn’t so much screen and rolls, but they abused ND taking the ball to the hole.
It took late game fouling by the Irish, but the Bearcats went to the free throw line 18 times. I don’t know why this team is so reluctant to get to the charity stripe, but they are.
Before we get into the player thoughts, the rebounding is a worry. UC gave up 14 offensive rebounds to ND. That’s 31%. It helped keep the Irish hanging around. When the talent level on other team rises, giving up 14 offensive rebounds is going to be a reason for a loss. Jack Cooley is a solid big and he dominated down low, 15-11. 8 offensive rebounds. And he got Gates into foul trouble. He also did this.
Justin Jackson’s name is at the top of the box score, so let’s start with him. Jackson had a very nice rebounding game with 7. He made 3-4 at the free throw line. A truly shocking development. Jackson got some wild hair up his ass and took 2 horrible looking 3 pointers. Don’t know why he’s shooting 3s. He got the ball on the right wing, drove to the elbow, jumped and turned backwards, and threw the ball to no one in particular. The things that he does on offense make you wonder if he’s just really bored playing basketball and has to do things to spice it up. Besides those plays, he gave solid minutes. Nice game.
Cashmere Wright still can’t find his outside shot, 0-2, but he got inside, 4-7, got other guys involved, 5 assists and was a hassle on defense, 5 steals. He turned the ball over 1 time. Another game when Cash showed off his all around skills. I really like the fact that he’s managing to get his points despite the 3. He only had 2 rebounds. Lots of long shots kept him from some of the boards, but getting 4-5 defensive boards turns them into a break opportunity. I don’t have any for this post, but Cash is doing a great job of getting celebratory pictures of him taken. The camera loves you, Cashmere.
Dion Dixon went over the 1K mark, but he did it the hard way. He was 1-7 from deep, the 1 being an important one as mentioned, and 4-6 inside. Would like to see the inside shots go up while the outside shots tone down a little. He’s shooting 28% from deep. But still, you kind of have to admire his confidence. Dixon has figured out his free throw stroke again, so maybe the outside shots will fall soon. Dixon was 7-7 at the stripe. Many of them to close the game. He had 3 assists and 2 steals with 3 rebounds.
Sean Kilpatrick put on another very solid rebounding performance with 6. He had 3 assists as well. I like the new rebounding SK. He was 3-4 on drives, including a pretty give and go with Yancy Gates, but 1-6 from deep. That’s right, your starting 3 guards went 2-15 from deep and UC won by 15 points. I really like that even though he wasn’t scoring, Kilpatrick made an impact. His role was different last year, but he became a ghost sometimes on the court. Not happening this year. This is only the second single digit scoring game SK has had this season. There is a solution for him to get his shot back. #headband4SK
JaQuon Parker had no points the first half. Coming out of the locker room to start the second half he nailed a 3. Then he nailed a 3. Then he nailed a 3. That and a traditional 3 point play from Cash put UC up 17 2 and a half minutes into the half. Parker had a solid 5 rebounds. He hit a pair of free throws to help ice. JaQuon Parker, getting it done. The man is a game changer.
Speaking of game changers, Jeremiah Davis. He comes in the game with UC up 7. He drills a 3. Next possession he makes a fantastic drive for a layup. Off a block, he buries a transition 3. Up 7 to up 13. He scored a bucket in the second half to finish with 10. Jeremiah Davis is not one who is lacking in confidence.
Cheikh Mbodj played 7 minutes. He got a couple of boards and blocked a shot. Not bad.
Ge’Lawn Guyn had 3 points, 2 steals and 1 rebound. More importantly he took 3 shots. He wasn’t afraid to go out and play his game. He reads the blog. Not really. But maybe.
Jermaine Sanders, 2 minutes. /sad face.
Yancy Gates is listed last on the box score, so he gets talked about last here. I don’t make the rules. The big man got 21 minutes, scored 6 points with 8 rebounds and 3 blocks. He also picked up 4 fouls. Gates fit in well with the offense. He ran the give and go as mentioned. He got the ball on the block, passed out, got it back and scored a hook. He hit a 15 footer off a screen. He hit a turnaround as well. He turned the ball over a couple of a times. 1 on a stupid charge. The rebounding was top notch. Nice return.
Nice return, nice win. High five.
Thanks to Cincinnati.com for the photos and Go Bearcats for the box.
Notre Dame vs Cincinnati
01/04/12 7:00 p.m. at Cincinnati, Ohio (Fifth Third Arena)
Notre Dame 55
|Score by Periods||1st||2nd||Total|
|Notre Dame||21||34||55||Record: (9-6, 1-1 BE)|
|Cincinnati||31||40||71||Record: (12-3, 2-0 BE)|
|Points in the paint-ND 28,CIN 24. Points off turnovers-ND 13,CIN 11.|
|2nd chance points-ND 13,CIN 4. Fast break points-ND 4,CIN 11.|
|Bench points-ND 9,CIN 19. Score tied-1 time. Lead changed-0 times.|
|Last FG-ND 2nd-01:25, CIN 2nd-03:52.|
|Largest lead-ND None, CIN by 17 2nd-17:36.|
|Officials: Ed Corbett, Michael Stephens, Brent Hampton
Technical fouls: Notre Dame-None. Cincinnati-None.
Attendance of 10142 is a season-high.