Every ride has a stop. The roller coaster season of the Cincinnati Bearcats came to an end tonight, losing to 2 seed Ohio State 81-66. The margin is very wide, but the score doesn’t indicate what actually happened. UC was down 12 at the half. They opened half 2 like a ball of thunder. UC went up 4 in the second half. Ohio State turned up the pressure and the Bearcats just couldn’t handle it. Aaron Craft had 6 steals. UC turned it over 9 times in each half. My friend Danielle said that the guards looked scared around Craft. I think that’s partially true. Craft was clearly in their heads in the second half. He had a series of deflections and outright steals that styimed the offense. Gates was outplayed by Sullinger big time. 23-11 to 7-5. He didn’t get touches when Sullinger had 3. Just wasn’t their night.
I have been thinking about what this post would be the last 5 or 10 minutes. I’m really disappointed that the season is over. I’m disappointed that the shots didn’t fall. I’m disappointed that the margin was so large. What I’m not disappointed in is the effort. Ohio State had to earn that win. UC answered OSU. I was more proud of that team at that moment than any other in the season. Whenever a team makes you unbelievably proud to be a fan of theirs, the game isn’t a loss.
The problem with the NCAA tournament is you never know when your train is going to turn back into the station. By the time you see it, it’s always too late and way too soon. The thing with a great roller coaster is that you immediately want to run back in line and go for the ride again. The 16 year old ride attendant hasn’t unlocked the seats yet, but I can’t wait to race back around and go on the ride known as Cincinnati basketball again. It’s one of my favorite things in the world. To be on the ride with all you has been amazing. This month has been by far the best in the history of the site. It’s March 22nd. None of this would be nearly as fun if you all weren’t reading. Or following on twitter. Talking about UC basketball is nearly as fun as watching the game. Having great people to talk to, who make jokes, who know what they are talking about and who spread things like #JustinJacksonMeanFace, it’s just incredible. I’m just one guy who runs this site. I never thought it would be so fulfilling in a sense. I feel like the work has paid off. All because of you guys.
Of course, writing about the team wouldn’t be fun if it wasn’t this team. This was such an easy team to root for. The November struggles were not fun at all to watch and in fact, terrible, but it would not been nearly as sweet being in the Sweet 16 if this team didn’t overcome such adversity. The fight is something we all hate hearing about because it was shoved down our throats. It wasn’t a proud moment. It was the valley. I honestly don’t know if this team rallies around each other and becomes the team that walked off the courts heads held high if they didn’t tune out the outside world and play for each other. They went from a plodding team to one who scored 100 points in back to back games. We saw guys like Cashmere Wright and Sean Kilpatrick grow into leaders and a couple of the best 25 players in the Big East. You had JaQuon Parker coming off the worst basketball year of his life to score 28 points against Marquette. He was someone who was 9-49 from the field and couldn’t get off the bench. He matured into someone who needed to stay on the floor all 40 minutes. Dion Dixon may not have shot the ball well at all this season, but he busted his ass trying to get better. He made some gigantic shots and was never afraid of the moment. He won the Georgetown game. His play against Florida State is one of the most memorable plays in UC history. Yancy Gates went from someone I wanted off the team to the heart and soul of a team that went to the Sweet 16. He refused to lose against Georgetown. I’ll remember that for a long time. No player signified the turn in the season more than Yancy. He was the face of the brawl. He was given a standing ovation on Senior Day. I got chills. He went from someone I wanted gone, to someone I wanted on my side until the end.
And to the end we’ve come.
Box score ESPN
|Cashmere Wright, G||6-12||4-6||2-2||1||4||3||0||0||3||5||18|
|Sean Kilpatrick, G||6-12||3-8||0-0||0||1||2||0||0||3||2||15|
|Jaquon Parker, G||5-11||2-5||1-3||2||6||2||1||0||3||2||13|
|Dion Dixon, G||3-10||1-5||1-2||1||2||1||1||0||2||3||8|
|Yancy Gates, F||3-7||0-0||1-1||0||5||0||2||1||1||3||7|
|Justin Jackson, F||4-5||0-0||0-0||3||6||0||0||4||4||5||8|
|Cheikh Mbodj, C||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||2||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Ge’Lawn Guyn, G||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||0|
|Ohio State Buckeyes|
|Deshaun Thomas, F||10-17||3-5||3-4||4||7||0||0||1||1||2||26|
|Jared Sullinger, F||7-13||0-2||9-10||5||11||3||1||0||1||3||23|
|Lenzelle Smith, Jr., G||6-7||3-4||0-0||0||5||2||2||0||0||1||15|
|Aaron Craft, G||2-7||1-4||6-10||0||4||5||6||0||4||1||11|
|William Buford, G||1-8||1-2||1-2||2||5||1||3||0||4||4||4|
|Shannon Scott, G||1-4||0-0||0-1||0||1||3||1||0||1||0||2|