Cincinnati followed a loss to Providence where they looked horrible offensively with a loss to Pittsburgh where they looked horrible offensively. Cincinnati is 18-6, 6-5. A large, large, large part of this was because of the excellent Panther defense. There is a reason that Pitt has amazing defensive numbers. They get in your shorts and make you run offense. They go hard. I really like that team. I wasn't high on them in December and thought they were a bit of a overrated bunch. Instead, they rallied hard in Big East play and look like they really belong at the top of the standings. They are good.
The Bearcats are not playing good basketball right now. That's safe to say. They were bad against Rutgers. Bad against Seton Hall. Bad against Providence. Bad tonight. Cincinnati was 16-52 from the field. That's 30.8%. They were a putrid 4-25 from 3. Cashmere Wright continues to be in a horrible slump. He was 1-11 from 3 and 2-12 overall. Cincinnati was decent at the foul line, 16-22. The Bearcats missed a lot of shots and only rebounded 31% of their misses.
The Bearcats didn't score a field goal the last 9:21. They scored 7 points in that span.
We know this team can't score when the guards don't score. Sean Kilpatrick had 15 points on 5-8 shooting in the first half. He was 0-7 the second half and 1-2 at the foul line. He scored 1 point. JaQuon Parker had 2 points in the second half. Cashmere Wright had 5 points total. When you put the clamps on those guys, Cincinnati is sunk.
The good news, relatively, was that Titus Rubles stepped up in the second half. He scored 8 points on the strength of 4-5 shooting from the foul line. He was just 2-9 from the field. He had 8 rebounds to lead the team.
One other thing Pittsburgh did was take advantage of the UC big men. In one case, the lack of them. Justin Jackson played 7 minutes before leaving the game with some kind of left leg injury. With a game so close, who knows if he plays Tuesday. The Panthers went right at Cheikh Mbodj with Steven Adams. Adams got Mbodj in foul trouble. Adams also scored 13 points on 5-6 shooting, 3-4 from the foul line. Talib Zanna had 11 points on 4-6. They dominated the second half.
Tray Woodall deserves a shout out. He had 14 points. He hit 4-6 from 3. Pitt only made 4 of them. He hit the dagger 3 late in the game. He iced the game at the line after temporarily leaving the door open. He's good.
It's February. There are no must win games. I think Nova on Tuesday is as close as you can get to that right now, however. That's a good team that UC needs to beat at home. Especially with what's coming up. I know all of our faces are like Mick Cronin's in the picture above, but don't give up now. Believe. Believe in the Cats.
Box score via SI.