Monday, February 15, 2010

Cincinnati 60 Connecticut 48


The Cincinnati Bearcats improved to 15-9, 6-6, by sweeping the season series against the Connecticut Huskies Saturday afternoon. UConn fell to 14-11, 4-8, and look to have their backs to the wall just regarding a winning season despite Jim Calhoun's return to the bench. This was the type of game that the Bearcats haven't had on the road all year. The second half, they came out wanting to win and put UConn to shame, and for the most part, they did. I would say it was their best road performance since Xavier. It was something that Cincinnati badly needed as we head down the stretch of the season. Lance Stephenson lead UC, just like he did the first time they played, with 14-5. Ibrahima Thomas had his best game as a Bearcat, putting up a 10-11 double double. Deonta Vaughn had 10-4 assists, and Rashad Bishop had 7-7. UConn was lead by Kemba Walker's 14. Calhoun said after the game that Walker was the only player who played hard. Jerome Dyson had 13, but was 5-16 in doing so. Stanley Robinson had 10-9, with all 10 coming in the first half. Gavin Edwards threw in a solid 10-7-2 blocks-3 steals performance off the bench. Let's go back and see how this played out.

The game was in the XL Center in Hartford, a place so bad that UConn fans hate it. The game started off really slow. Rashad Bishop made the first 2, followed minutes later by a Lance Stephenson 2 that drew a Calhoun timeout 2:30 in. No one would score before Stanley Robinson scored for UConn at the 15:18 mark. Yeah, 5 minutes with 3 baskets. The next few minutes would see buckets from Stephenson, and Gates for UC, and Kemba Walker and Jerome Dyson's only 3 of the game, and UC lead 9-7 at 11:51. UConn would go on a run. Kemba Walker hit a 3, and 2 free throws, and Ibrahima Thomas was stripped by Donnell Beverly, who outleted to Stanley Robinson for a dunk. UConn held the 14-9 advantage to the under 8 timeout. The teams would trade baskets at a slow, and leisurely pace when they weren't turning the ball over or taking wild jump shots. Deonta Vaughn made his only 3, and Stephenson and Steve Toyloy scored for UC, while Gavin Edwards and Robinson would score for UConn. The Huskies seemed to gather the momentum on a big play. Yancy Gates telegraphed a pass towards Bishop that Stanley Robinson picked off. Robinson drove down the floor with Bishop in front of him, before crossing him over for a dunk and a foul and an "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh." Robinson missed the foul shot, but UConn held a 20-14 lead. UC would go on an 8-2 run to close out the half. Ibrahima Thomas hit a 3, and Deonta Vaughn got a traditional 3 point play around a Robinson jumper, and Darnell Wilks scored his only 2 on his only shot in his only minute to tie the score at 22 with 1:35. That's the way the half would end. UC's points came from Vaughn's 6, Stephenson's 4, Thomas' 3, Gates , Toyloy, and Bishop's 2, and Cashmere Wright made a free throw. UConn was lead by Robinson's 10, Dyson's 7, Walker's 3, and Edwards' 2. UC was 9-31, 2-10 from 3, 2-7 free throws, with 19 boards 10 offensive, and 6 turnovers. UConn was 9-22, 2-7, 2-3, with 14 boards 4 offensive, and 9 turnovers. Yes, the half was very ugly.

Whatever Mick Cronin said in the locker room at halftime worked, because UC came out strong. Rashad Bishop drew a foul and made a free throw 20 seconds in for an advantage UC wouldn't give up. Lance Stephenson hit a jumper, a 3 pointer, and assisted Ibrahima Thomas for a bucket and UC lead 30-23. UConn got an Edwards free throw in that span. UConn would get free throws from Dyson to cut the lead to 5 before UC would continue to score. Deonta Vaughn missed a shot as the shot clock was winding down, but stripped the rebounder and fed Thomas for 2 more. Rashad Bishop rattled home a j, and just like that, UC was on a 12-3 run. Ending the first half on an 8-2 run and starting the next with a 12-3 run is something we haven't seen from UC in a while. UC lead 34-25 at 15:13 while shooting 5-10 on the half, while UConn was 0-7. After the break, the teams went cold. No scoring, but lots of turnovers, until Rashad Bishop got a steal from Edwards and made both free throws after drawing a foul. UConn got their first basket of the half after the under 12 timeout, when Edwards scored at 11:30 to make the score 36-27. That's right, UConn didn't make a field goal for 8:30 after going 4:40 in the first half without scoring. Great defense by UC, but horrible half court offense by UConn. UC's half court offense was terrible as well, because they could have been blowing UConn out if they ran plays, but that's neither here nor there. UC jumped right back on the Huskies with a Gates put back and Stephenson free throws after pulling home an offensive rebound, for a 13 point lead. The rebounding was great in this game. UC controlled the offensive, and defensive glass, and controlled the game. Beverly and Gates traded 1 made free throw, as the teams traded baskets by Walker, Thomas, and Edwards out of transition after the Thomas lay up. Dion Dixon, my best friend, scored his first points in 4 games by going strong to the rim. Walker hit a 3 for UConn, pulling the margin to 10 with 5:47 on the clock. Dixon would back down and hit a fade away over Stanley Robinson, and on the next possession, Steve Toyloy scored a put back, after Thomas missed a put back, after Vaughn missed a shot clock induced rushed 3. UC lead 49-35 with 3:59 left. The Toyloy rebound was UC's 17th, and final, offensive rebound of the game. Dominating effort by the bigs. Toyloy had 8 rebounds, 5 offensive. 4 of Thomas' 11 boards were offensive. After the break, Dion Dixon went strong to the rack again to give UC a 51-36 lead, which would prove to be important because UConn had a run in them. Jerome Dyson made a jumper, and UConn got a steal by Edwards from Bishop and Walker was fouled. Walker hit 1 of 2, and on UC's next possession, Stephenson would get fouled and hit 1 of 2. With 2:20 left down 13, Dyson made a lay up, drew a foul, but missed the free throw. But, he would steal the rebound from Lance and Gavin Edwards would get fouled. He hit 1 of 2. UC couldn't get the ball over half court due to UConn's pressure, and Dyson got another steal and lay up. It was 52-44 with 1:56 left and visions of St John's dancing in every UC fans, especially this one's, heads. UC finally got the ball over halfcourt, but it was because they threw it away. Dyson would draw a foul on Vaughn, but missed both free throws. If UConn made all their free throws in this stretch, who knows what would have happened, because Vaughn turned the ball over for a Dyson lay up and a 6 point game. UC finally got the ball over halfcourt at 1:15, a full minute of game time with only getting the ball over for like a second. Deonta Vaughn would hit a pair of freebies. Edwards got a lay up for UConn, making the score 54-48 with 1:07 left, and as you can see, that was the last UConn bucket. Vaughn hit 2 more free throws, got a steal from Edwards and hit Lance with an outlet pass for a Stephenson icing lay up. Ibrahima Thomas and Cashmere Wright both hit 1 of 2 at the line, and that's how we got the final.

UC shot 21-56 for 35%, 3-17 17%, and 15-25 60%. Thomas was 1-6 at the line, Cash 2-4 in disappointing efforts. UC had 41 boards, 17 offensive, and 14 turnovers. As for the Huskies, they shot 18-52 35%, 3-15 20%, and 9-18 50%. They pulled down 29 rebounds, 12 offensive, and had 15 turnovers. My prediction of less than 7 made 3s was right on the money. Neither team shot anywhere near a good percentage. Both play good to great defense, but damn are they bad to horrible on offense. Especially in the half court.

There were lots of good things to see in this game. Lance Stephenson played great. Ibrahima Thomas proved to be a force. Steve Toyloy got his hands on lots of rebounds. Rashad Bishop played well on offense and locked down Stanley Robinson in the second half. And Dion Dixon, did I mention he was my best friend, played like he had at the beginning of the year when he was playing well. As for the bad, we got nothing from Cash Wright. Deonta Vaughn has lost his jump shot, another 2-8 effort. Yancy Gates was nowhere to be seen, just 5-5. But, some of us saw that coming in their preview. The end of the game mini disaster was not fun to watch.

 The effort in the first half was so bad, both ways, that Calhoun said neither team wanted to win. Well in the second half, UC wanted to win. It's going to take an effort like that tomorrow night, as UC travels to Tampa to play the rematch against South Florida.

No comments:

Post a Comment