Friday, March 12, 2010

West Virginia 54 Cincinnati 51 (With Video)

(Craig Ruttle)

In a game that instantly makes the worst losses I remember list, West Virginia got a bank shot buzzer beater from 1st team All Big East selection Da'Sean Butler to knock the Bearcats out of the Big East Tournament. Cincinnati is off to the NIT or something, but god damn were they fun to watch the past 3 days. Cincinnati played their hearts, doing nearly all that it took to pull off their second upset. Unfortunately, Cincinnati has yet another Big East Tournament highlight of someone hitting a 3 on them at the buzzer. That was because of Dion Dixon pulling a Charles Williams and losing the ball out of bounds with 3 seconds left. I know that my best friend feels terrible about it, but that's the type of play that is going to hound him for a while. Not forever like Charles Williams because it wasn't against Xavier, but for a long time. Keep your chin up 3. Let's get to the recap. There are video highlights at the bottom if you want to vomit. 

The game started off terribly for the Bearcats. Kevin Jones made a bucket inside, Devin Ebanks scored and drew a foul, but missed the free throw, and Ebanks made a twisting, falling shot with his ass nearly on the ground with a foul, that he made around 1 Lance Stephenson free throw for a 7-1 lead. Dion Dixon drew a foul and knocked down both shots, but Jones came right back with another jumper. Da'Sean Butler netted one after the under 16, followed by a Wellington Smith put back for a 13-3 lead. Cincinnati called a timeout, and out of the break, they got another made free throw from Darnell Wilks on a good look for Larry Davis. Kevin Jones came back down and hit a turnaround over Dixon, Dixon had a pass deflected leading to a WVU break, with Ebanks getting fouled and making both, followed by a Butler jumper for an 18-4 lead. Cincinnati was 0-10 from the field. They scored their first field goal at 9:17 on a Stephenson lay up. That lay up started a run. Deonta Vaughn hit a 3 to cut the lead in half, Lance scored on a tip, and followed that with a lay up for a 9-0 run. Butler broke the run with a 3, but Vaughn got it back for Cincinnati. The Bearcats continued chipping at the lead with a Ibrahima Thomas put back, and a vicious dunk for Darnell Wilks from Cash on a 4 on 1 break. Casey Mitchell made a jump shot to try and stem momentum, but Larry Davis, Larry Davis!, hit a 3 from the left wing to tie. It was his first 3 in 12 attempts, and first since 1983. West Virginia shook that 19-5 run when Jonnie West, yes Jerry West, the Logo's, son rattled home a 3 at the buzzer for a 26-23 lead. The half was really sloppy, and I would have written about it more, but I got hit by one of the bricks and had a slight concussion.

Cincinnati shot 8-25, 3-7, and 4-6 at the stripe, with 16 rebounds, 4 offensive. Lance Stephenson had 7-4, Deonta Vaughn 6-3, Larry Davis 3, Darnell Wilks 3, Dion Dixon 2, and Ibrahima Thomas 2. West Virginia was 11-30, 2-10, 3-5 at the line, with 18 rebounds, 5 offensive. Da'Sean Butler led the way with 7-3-2 assists, Devin Ebanks 6, Kevin Jones 6, Jonnie West 3, Wellington Smith 2-6-2 blocks, and Casey Mitchell had 2.

Mick Cronin made a questionable coaching decision at start half 2. He put back in the 5 starters. UC was rolling with Wilks, Gates, Stephenson, Vaughn, Cash, Thomas and some Parker. But it was Parker, Vaughn, Stephenson, Thomas and Gates to start, and WVU immediately went up 7. Truck Bryant scored a forced runner off glass, and Jones drew a foul, making both. Yancy Gates drew a foul and made both for UC, who started 0-7 from the field. The Mountaineers were not much better though. Jones made a put back, added with a Cam Throughman free throw, West Virginia lead 33-25. UC cut 3 points into the lead with 2 free throws by Cash and 1 by Gates, but Butler was having none of that and made a 3. Cash has come a long way, but he dribbles the ball way too god damn much. He dribbled into some turnovers, including an over and back, and dribbles out of plays. Back to the action, UC scored their first field goal at 12:35 on a Gates turnaround. Gates scored again inside after the under 12 timeout, and UC cut the lead to 36-34 when Stephenson was fouled and made both free throws. West Virginia ran the lead back up with a Wellington Smith turner, adding a Butler lay up on excellent screening. Stephenson drilled a jumper from the top of the key, but the Cats couldn't hold serve as Jones drew a foul, making 1 of 2. UC missed a couple of tip in attempts, but on the other end Ebanks did not for a 43-36 lead at 7:30. Ibby Thomas, god love him, can't make put backs. After he missed yet another, Kevin Jones scored inside. Stephenson scored on a runner, but the lead went back to 9 on Ebanks free throws. Cincinnati would make a crunch time stand. Yancy Gates scored with some nice passing from his teammates, Lance hit a runner, WVU blew an open layup, Stephenson drove into the lane, kicked out to Vaughn for a 3 from the right corner. It was 47-45 with 3:19 left. Darnell Wilks tied the score on a tip in, following a Mountaineer turnover capping another 9-0 run. The Mountaineers got a jump shot from Kevin Jones from inside the foul line to take the lead. With under 1:45 left, Stephenson drove to the rim, drew a foul, but only made 1 of 2. Cincinnati played tough defense, causing the ball to hit the floor. Da'Sean Butler got down, threw a sitting pass to Jones for a lay up with 1 second remaining on the shot clock. UC wouldn't let that be the backbreaker. Out of a timeout, Lance Stephenson drilled a crossover 3 with 42 seconds left. 20% three point shooter Lance Stephenson. With confidence. West Virginia couldn't handle the Cincinnati defense. Devin Ebanks couldn't get a shot off and with 6.4, the Mountaineers were forced into a shot clock violation. For some reason, Cincinnati had Vaughn inbounding, Stephenson, Gates, Dixon and I think Larry Davis in the game. Why they didn't have Cash, or Parker in I have no idea. The ball went to Dixon, and when he turned up court in front of the WVU bench, he lost the ball. Butler poked it out off him, and the Mountaineers had a shot with 3 seconds left. Mick curiously didn't guard the inbound. A clean pass to Butler was made. Despite Lance Stephenson being in his jock, Butler banked it in for the win.

Cincinnati shot 17-51 33%, 5-14, 12-16, with 34 rebounds, 14 offensive. Lance Stephenson had 19-7, Yancy Gates 11-7, Deonta Vaughn 9, Darnell Wilks 3, Larry Davis 3, Cashmere Wright 2 (and 5 turnovers), Ibrahima Thomas 2-5, and Dion Dixon 2. West Virginia was 21-60 35%, 4-20, 8-13, with 34 rebounds, 14 on offense. They were powered by 17-6 from Kevin Jones, Da'Sean Butler 15-6-5 assists, Devin Ebanks 10-6-5 assists, Wellington Smith 4-6, Jonnie West 3, Truck Bryant 2-5-3 assists, Casey Mitchell 2, and Cam Throughman 1. 

This was a gut punch, followed by a nut punch. Cincinnati showed some life in the Big East tournament. Lance Stephenson especially played great. I hope he didn't play great enough to change his mind about going pro, because a team with him at the lead is something I want to see next season. Our boys played really hard, they just came up a little short.. 

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