Wednesday, February 17, 2010

South Florida 65 Cincinnati 57

(Tampa Tribune/Chris Urso)

In another typical dismal road effort, the South Florida Bulls (16-9, 6-7) beat down the Cincinnati Bearcats (15-10, 6-7) 65-57. And it wasn't even that close. I was optimistic that this team had turned the road corner, and thought that this late in the season, 2 weeks after getting humiliated on the road against Notre Dame, that Cincinnati would have the road woes straightened out. Turns out, I was wrong. The Bearcats had a late flurry to cut the margin to something a more respectable. I am on the record of saying that we shouldn't look ahead, and I'm keeping with that. Sunday afternoon against Marquette is the biggest game of the season. It's not a must win because the season isn't on the line, but it's the next closest thing. Let's not skim over this one though, as nice as that would be. First off, South Florida played hard, and made all the plays necessary to win. Their zone had UC baffled, and they made shots. I hope that they can string together another streak, and make a run at the NCAAs. It's the underdog champion in me. The Bulls were lead by, of course, Dominique Jones. Jones poured in 26 on just 12 shots, because he made 10-12 free throws. He also had 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. Mike Mercer had 12-2 steals. Augustus Gilchrist (pictured) was rusty in his second game back, but had 10-6. Anthony Crater had 9 off the bench. Chris Howard had 4 points, but 7 assists. The other 4 were scored by Toarlyn Fitzpatrick. UC was lead by Deonta Vaughn. The senior scored most of his points late, and finished with 14-2 assists-2 steals. Cashmere Wright had 14, 11 in the second half, and 5 boards. Ibrahima Thomas had 5-7 rebounds, but every board in the first half. Darnell Wilks had 5 in garbage time. Rashad Bishop put in 6. Lance Stephenson scored 4, all coming early, and only played 20 minutes. Dion Dixon and Yancy Gates had 3, Jaquan Parker 2, and Steve Toyloy 1 to go with 5 rebounds. 

The first 12 minutes set basketball back 80 years, as AstroBull kindly said on twitter. The game started with a jumper by Stephenson, and a 3 by Jones. The 2 trash talked nearly the whole first half. Rashad Bishop made a jumper, and USF got 1 free throw from Chris Howard and 1 from Jones to take a 5-4 at 15:45. Cashmere Wright scored off a lay up out of the timeout. The teams went into a prolonged slump. UC missed bunnies, and USF missed mainly jumpers. There were shot clock violations, airballs, wild passes and a couple turnovers. USF scored at the 13 minute mark with a Mike Mercer j, that was quickly answered with Yancy Gates' only basket. Steve Toyloy threw a pass right to Anthony Crater, who scored a lay up. The 9-8 score at 11:15 was highlighted by UC going 4-14, 0-3, 0-2 at the stripe, and USF going 3-7, 1-2, 2-4 with 3 turnovers. It was worse than it looks. Crater scored again after the break, leading to a pathetic sequence. Gates would be blocked by Alex Rivas, USF turnover, UC turnover, Gus Gilchrist had a great upfake, losing Thomas, but blew the dunk, and Dion Dixon dropped the rebound out of bounds. Dom Jones scored after that. Deonta Vaughn stepped on the timeline for a turnover, USF threw away the inbound pass, Jaquan Parker traveled, and Lance Stephenson couldn't grab a rebound and flipped the ball right to Anthony Crater, who passed to Mike Mercer for 3. Truly terrible basketball. UC went from the 12:29 mark to 7:10 without a basket before Jaquan Parker scored a lay up. At the 6:54 break, it was 15-10. Out of the break, 20% 3 shooter Mercer would hit another trey. UC went zone after this for I believe the rest of the game. UC got the points back on an Ibrahima Thomas basket and foul. Lance hit 2 free throws to make it a 3 point game, 18-15. USF got the next 4 on a Mercer j from the elbow, and 2 Jones free throws. UC went on a 7 point run with a Toyloy free throw, a Vaughn 3, a Thomas j and a Cash free throw to tie the score at 22. Crater made the last field goal of the half, and Gates scored the last point of the half on a free throw, giving us a 24-23 score. UC was 8-24, 1-6, a horrible 6-13, with 15 rebounds, 8 offensive, and 6 turnovers. They were lead by Thomas 5-7(5 offensive) Lance 4, 2 fouls, 3 Vaughn, Gates, Wright, 2 Parker, 1 Toyloy. USF was 9-23, 2-6, 4-6, 15 rebounds 5 offensive, 7 turnovers. Lead by Mercer 9, Jones 7-4, Crater 6, Howard 2-4 assists.

USF jumped on UC right from the whistle to start the half. Toarlyn Fitzpatrick scored the first non-guard points for USF. Gilchrist nailed a 3, probably the shot pictured, causing a UC timeout. Jones would hit a jumper, and get a steal from Gates into a break away lay up that put him 5th all time in USF scoring, and the Bulls up 10 at the 15:52 mark. UC's possessions were  
  1. A Mercer steal of Stephenson
  2. Stephenson taking a bad shot, followed by a Thomas missed put back
  3. Vaughn throwing away the inbound pass after the timeout at 17:51
  4. An offensive foul by Ibrahima
  5. A Stephenson turnover
  6. A Vaughn airball
Cash came out of the break with a lay up off a Gates steal for the Cats first basket of the half at 15:30. UC hadn't scored a field goal in 6:30 of game time, and had just 1 point in that frame. Jones hit 1 of 2 at the line at 15:25 and more ugliness set in. Stephenson and Jones threw away passes. Cash took a wild lay up that hit the top of the backboard. USF would travel. Dixon and Gates would miss. Jones would miss. Deonta Vaughn missed a lay up that started a USF breakout for Crater to put USF up 11, 36-25 at 12:50. Cash would bank home a runner for UC's second basket of the half, but the zone defense was broken for a wide open dunk for Gilchrist off a Howard pass. Dion Dixon came down and threw a pass right to Alex Rivas. Fitzpatrick would draw a foul for USF, and it was a 38-27 game with 11:27 left. The teams combined for 24 turnovers at this point. Fitzpatrick made both the free throws off the timeout for a 13 point lead. Dixon hit a jumper from the elbow for UC, but USF got the points back off free throws. Mercer hit only 1 of 2, but Gates dropped the rebound out of bounds. Jones,fouled on the inbound play, made 1 of 2. He got hot with that. He hit a jumper, 2 free throws, and a press breaking lay up around a made free throw by Dixon and Wright. The lead was 18. UC had a mini-run, with a Bishop dunk, Wright put back, Bishop jumper, and a Dixon steal where he went to the floor to flip the ball to Wright for a lay up. USF had a Gilchrist free throw after the Bishop dunk. UC blew a couple of chances to make things interesting quickly. Wright got a steal, but threw the ball away. Wright got a rebound off a subsequent Jones missed 3, sent an outlet to a cherry picking Ibrahima Thomas, but Thomas lost the ball while waiting for a flying USF player to go by before he went for his lay up. That sequence was fitting of the blown opportunities. At 3:44, it was 50-39. Crater fired a pass to Howard, who hit a reverse lay up, out of the break. Vaughn, who finally woke up, hit 2 free throws, then Gilchrist hit 2 fts, then Vaughn made a lay up and drew a foul for a 54-44 score with 2:44 left. USF broke the UC press easily with a Crater to Mercer lay up. Vaughn was fouled and hit 1 of 2. Dominique Jones dribbled out nearly the whole shot clock, and managed to shake Dixon for an open 3 that sent up a big "USF" chant from the crowd. The game ended with a Gilchrist dunk from a Jones pass off a press break, 2 Vaughn free throws, 1 Crater free throw, 2 Wright fts, 2 Jones fts, a Darnell Wilks 3, 1 Jones ft, and a Wilks put back.

UC shot 19-49, 3-11, 16-26, grabbing 28 rebounds, 14 offensive, with FOUR assists against 15 turnovers. USF was 21-43, 4-10, 19-26, with 23 boards, 8 offensive, 13 assists, 15 turnovers. 

All in all, a truly awful UC performance. At no point in the second half did anyone but the most homeriffic UC fan think they had a chance to win. There was no fire. There was no determination. No one stepped up when the going was tough and made things happen. Deonta scored 9 straight at the end, but come on man, you need to do that in the middle of the game. Where was that at the 12 minute mark? UC got nothing from the front court, nothing from Lance. Cash played well off the bench, which was the only positive. Thomas rebounded well in the first half, which is half a positive. I want to talk about what Mick said after the game, but that might come later today or Thursday. 

2 final thoughts. 
1. I don't know what kind of offense this team runs. A new assistant needs to be hired in the offseason to install an offense. Guys standing around dribbling doesn't work. No one looks inside. No one looks for anyone off the wing. Everyone looks out for themselves. 4 fucking assists is pathetic. This team can't shoot, so maybe that had something to do with it, but share the ball.

2. I don't know what kind of mental toughness this team has. They pretty much folded, besides an 8-1 run when USF took the foot off the pedal. They don't show up on the road for 40 minutes. UAB, Notre Dame, and last night were no shows. Seton Hall, St John's, and Louisville were partial efforts. But, all 6 of those games were losses. The only road game they played tough in the whole way though was Xavier. And in that game, like St John's, they couldn't close out a late lead and blew it. I really don't know what this team is. 

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