If you've paid any attention to college basketball this season, you know it has been one hell of a crazy year. The AP #1 has lost 5 straight weeks. Kansas lost to TCU. Things are going crazy in every league. There are no great teams, but there are plenty of good ones. That makes for some crazy results. We saw a crazy result on Wednesday night when Providence beat Cincinnati.
Providence fans were not happy with my claim that PC didn't play a great game. They didn't. They played a solid game. Cincinnati played terribly. It was the worst 40 minutes of the season. This is the type of loss that people say they saw coming. And they aren't lying. The offense has been a mess ever since Big East play started. Hell, it's been a mess since mediocre Alabama exposed a half court weakness Cincinnati has. Lesser teams like Wright State tried to use this to their advantage. They weren't talented enough to beat Cincinnati. Providence was talented enough to beat Cincinnati and they did just that. There are some major flaws with this team. On talent, Cincinnati should have no troubles on offense. They have a good point guard. They have a scorer on the wing. They have another wing who can make plays. They have a talented slasher off the bench. But the pieces don't add up for some reason. At least they aren't adding up right now.
This is a dangerous loss for a few reasons. One, it really hurts in the Big East standings. UC moves to 2 games back of the leaders and 1 game back of second place. They are in a slew of 4 loss teams. Cincinnati got a shot to get in the title race and this could be, and probably is, the loss that is going to keep them from winning it. This is also a dangerous loss when it comes to the NCAA tournament. Cincinnati should make it unless they fall on their face. This loss is a seed drop. Most places had UC as a 4 seed. Some had them as a 5. Having a 5 seed is historically a bad thing. A 6 seed is what UC has had the last 2 seasons. It would be disappointing if they pulled a 3rd 6 seed with all the expectations on this season. Hopefully this is a wake up game. It damn well better be because the team coming into the Fraction on Saturday is no joke. Time to rally up.
15 turnovers by the Bearcats was awful. They had 8 in the first half, 7 in the second. The game ended with a turnover. They were sloppy as hell all night long. It's like they didn't take the game seriously and all of a sudden they were down 12 points and couldn't turn it on.
One of the reasons they couldn't turn it on was because PC held UC to 37% shooting. UC had 18 made field goals. They were held to 13 three point attempts. Providence really disrupted the UC offense. It was a great defensive effort by the Friars.
Boy, I don't know what has happened to Cashmere Wright since he has returned, but please could it stop? He was 2-9. He had just 2 assists against 2 turnovers. 2 rebounds as well. That is a lot of 2s. Cash was held to 3 three point attempts. His only make was the first basket for UC. Cash took a bad shot at the end of the game, but he was trying to get something going.
Cash is 9-41, 22% since returning. He's 5-24, 20.8% from 3. He has only attempted 12 free throws. He's in a funk. Every team plays poorly when their point guard plays poorly. It's a part of basketball. Thank god it's only February and Cash has time to pick it up.
Justin Jackson had some solid numbers in his 20 minutes. He had 9 rebounds, 5 points and 4 assists. On the bad side, he had 3 turnovers. He fouled out. He was 1-3 at the foul line. He didn't have a block or a steal. Jackson played well all things considered, but he also played poorly when you consider other things. Perspective and all that.
Sean Kilpatrick had his worse 3 point shooting game of the season in which he made a 3 pointer. His worst 3 point shooting of the season was St John's when he went 0-5. Against PC he was 1-8. His previous low was 1-7.
SK was 4-6 on 2 pointers. He was 2-3 from the foul line for his team high 13 points. He had 2 steals. Kilpatrick had 3 turnovers. He's had 3 turnovers in 2 of the last 3 games. The turnover everyone is going to point to is the one at the end of the game. If he had it to do over again, I don't know if SK would do anything different. He tried drawing a foul on a double team on a screen. He didn't get the call and lost the ball. It wasn't Charles Williams. It wasn't Dion Dixon against West Virginia. Oh well.
Cheikh Mbodj has to play 25 minutes a game. He really has to. Mick needs him to play many minutes. The problem is that Cheikh can not stay on the floor. He played 22 minutes before fouling out. He only played 10 minutes in the second half. Mbodj wasn't that great when he was on the floor. He had 6 points and 3 boards. 1 block.
The good thing about Mbodj is that he is money at the foul line lately. He was 4-4. He's 17-23 in Big East play. That's 74%. Better than Titus Rubles. Better than JaQuon Parker. Speaking of which…
JaQuon Parker played a very good game Wednesday. He had 12 points and 10 rebounds. It was his first career double double. Parker had 4 offensive boards. Park had 9 of his rebounds in the second half. He scored 9 of his points in that half to lead the team. Parker hit 4-7 from the field. He really carried the load when no one else could. It was a very game effort from JaQuon. It's one of the reasons that people love him. He plays the game hard.
JaQuon will probably look back at this one and wonder what if. What if he hit his free throws? He was 3-9 from the stripe. He's at 55% from the line this season. It's a huge flaw of his. Especially considering he gets to the line 4 times a game on average. He could be averaging 14 points a game this year if he was hitting them consistently.
I love Titus Rubles, but he's gotta start producing more offensively. He didn't score. He hasn't made a field goal the last 2 games. He hasn't made more than 1 field goal since the Syracuse game. He is way too damn talented to not be scoring. He needs to step it up. There is no scoring punch off the bench with him not shooting. The bench is weak already. It's much weaker when someone with a ton of skill isn't producing.
Shaq Thomas stepped up in a massive way Wednesday. He played the 4 when Mbodj came out with Jackson at the 5. That should definitely be a lineup that Mick starts rolling out there more. Thomas had 6 points on 3-5. He had a block and a steal. The steal came after PC rebounded a missed free throw. That turned into one of his baskets.
Most importantly, Thomas wanted the ball late. He was guarded by Goldsbrough, took him to the basket and had a layup attempt. He missed unfortunately. Thomas seemed to be the only guy who wanted the ball. He knew he had a matchup. He tried to make a play. I hope he starts getting more run.
Ge'Lawn Guyn and Jermaine Sanders didn't do anything.
Kelvin Gaines had 3 rebounds, a block and a steal in his 8 minutes. He missed a layup. If only he had any kind of offense.
David Nyarsuk scored a basket. He is barely playing and has clearly fallen out of favor.
This was the first conference game UC lost when attempting 20 free throws. Only making 11 hurts.
Kadeem Batts dominated the UC line. He had 25 on 10-17 with 9 rebounds. He was just 5-12 at the foul line. He could have had a much bigger game if he could have made them.
UC played great defense on Bryce Cotton. Cotton had 11 points, all in the second half, on 2-10 shooting. Cotton making his 2 three pointers helped PC make their big second half run.
Providence should have blown UC out. They had a couple of wide open 3s that they missed up 12. They missed multiple layups and free throws when UC edged their way back in. Saying they are awful was an overstatement on my part. They are a solid team. They have no depth and they run out of gas. They can't finish games.
Lee Goldsbrough picked up at least 4 charges it seemed. Someone would drive and there would be 21 picking up a foul. It was incredibly frustrating. Goldsbrough had 6 points on 3-3 shooting and 4 offensive rebounds. He killed UC.
At least we get to get over this one soon. Beat Pitt.
Photos via Cincinnati.com