Monday, March 1, 2010

West Virginia 74 Cincinnati 68

(AP/David Smith)

I chose the picture up top not because that was a pivotal play of the game, but because Steve Toyloy is pointing at who took over when the ball could bounce either way late. Cincinnati fell to 16-12, 7-9, Saturday, as the Mountaineers, 22-6, 11-5, out talented UC the second half. The game was swung on the 4th foul call on Yancy Gates, but that's no excuse for UC shooting 28% the second half, and having no answers on defense. Yes, the referees were fucking horrible, but UC played well with the horrible officiating for a half. It was just another case of what we've seen with Xavier, Gonzaga, Louisville, and to an extent, Syracuse, the other, more talented team, makes plays down the stretch, and Cincinnati doesn't. We are who we are this late in the season, and the result, as you are about to read I hope, is a wildly inconsistent team.

The teams started a little tight as neither scored until Devin Ebanks sunk a jumper 2 minutes in. That got the offenses rolling, and that also started a UC trend for the half. Lance Stephenson hit a wide open 3, Steve Toyloy got a put back on the UC's 3rd shot of the possession, Wellington Smith hit a 3 for WVU, Kevin Jones scored inside on a pass from Truck Bryant, and Deonta Vaughn hit a UC 3 for the under 16 timeout advantage. Neither team scored much until the under 12 timeout, West Virginia got buckets from Da'Sean Butler and an Ebanks jumper from the right elbow, and UC got an Ibrahima Thomas triple. It was around this point in the game that UC players thought they were being hacked on drives to the basket. Normally I don't make notes about this, but you couldn't help but notice the no calls and UC players complaining. Kevin Jones would hit a 3 for WVU, and UC took matters into their own hands. UC went on a 12-2 run featuring a Cashmere Wright 3, a Butler turnaround jumper for WV, Thomas hitting a pair of free throws (something he's done in back to back games for the first time in maybe his entire life), Darnell Wilks forced a turnover on a trap, and came back down and hit a 3, Yancy Gates got involved inside, Larry Davis forced a turnover that lead to Lance Stephenson lobbing a pass to the post that Gates converted into a dunk. UC started the game 4-15, but that 4-4 spurt gave them a 23-16 lead with 7:55 in the half. West Virginia would try to keep the lead close with a Bryant traditional 3 point play, Ibrahima Thomas hit another triple from off the left wing. A Cam Thoroughman long 2 was answered by a Deonta Vaughn jumper from the right elbow. Larry Davis and UC picked up the lead from there. Davis got another steal, that lead to Vaughn putting on a spin move, crossover number on Bryant and hitting an open 3 for a 31-21 lead. UC was 7-10 from 3. That was the trend mentioned earlier, I hope you caught on. UC put the lead at 12 after Stephenson took Thoroughman to the rim, got fouled, and made both free throws. Casey Mitchell tried to start a WVU run with a running right handed banker and a made free throw at 3:59, but UC pushed the lead to 13, thanks to a Rashad Bishop running left hander, and a fine piece of passing that saw the ball go from Stephenson to Bishop to Toyloy for a lay up. It was 37-24 at the 3 minute mark. The Mountaineers did what all good teams do who suddenly find themselves down 13 at home, they went on a run. After an Ibrahima Thomas over the back call, Cam Thoroughman made a pair of free throws, they stripped Rashad Bishop (not like that) leading to Bryant getting fouled by Stephenson. He would make both. At this point, Gates, Stephenson and Thomas all had 2 fouls for UC. Darnell Wilks threw a pass right to John Flowers for a lay up, the problem is that John Flowers isn't a UC player who rides the bench, he's a WVU forward. Bishop would get called for a UC travel, and UC would have another error when Dion Dixon couldn't grab a rebound, leading to Thoroughman pulling the ball in and scoring with a foul, and he made the free throw. Yes, that's another trend, West Virginia had roughly 55 and 1's the first half. Just like that, it was 37-33. UC managed to get the last basket of the half on a Toyloy lay up from Dixon, my bff, on a press break. 

The foul disparity this half, 12-3. But, UC was 14-28, 7-10 from three, 4-6 at the stripe, with 13 rebounds, 3 offensive, and 9 assists. The stat leaders were Vaughn 8-2-3 assists, Thomas 8-4 Toyloy 6, Stephenson 5-5-2 assists, Gates 4, Wilks 3, Cash 3, Davis 2 steals. The Mountaineers shot 12-27, 2-9 from deep, 7-7 at the line, with 13 rebounds, 4 offensive, 7 assists, but 7 turnovers. They were lead by Thoroughman 7, Bryant 5, Jones 5, Ebanks 4-3, Butler 4, Smith 3-2-3 assists, Mitchell 3, Jennings 2, Flowers 2-2 steals.

Half the second started well for UC, as they rolled the lead back to 10. Lance Stephenson got it going with a lay up over Kevin Jones that drew a foul, and Lance converted. Wellington Smith answered with a 3, but UC broke the 1-3-1 WVU zone with Rashad Bishop hitting a wide open Yancy Gates for a dunk. Ibrahima Thomas blocked a Da'Sean Butler shot, and that lead to UC getting the ball to Gates, who rolled in a one hander for the 10 point advantage. Truck Bryant didn't like this, and went on a personal 5-0 run with a triple and 2 free throws. Yancy Gates was called for a bullshit offensive foul, his 3rd. Ibrahima Thomas quickly picked up his 3rd the next trip down as he fouled John Flowers, who made 1 of 2. Lance Stephenson stripped Bryant and passed ahead to a wide open Deonta Vaughn for a lay up, and at the 15 minute mark, UC held the 6 point halftime advantage. UC got the lead to 8 out of the break, when Stephenson pulled in a rebound that lead to a 3 on 1 break that got Cashmere Wright 2 free throws. West Virginia got things going down 8 with 14 left. Kevin Jones hit a 3, answered by a Stephenson jumper from the left elbow, Devin Ebanks drove to the rim, drawing #4 on Ibby. Ebanks made the first, but when he missed the second, Dan Jennings got the rebound and scored. Dion Dixon got a 3 point attempt blocked by Wellington Smith, that turned into a Da'Sean Butler 3 and at 12:41, we had a 1 point game at 52-51. UC came out of the Mick Cronin called timeout with a Gates airball. We went into the under 12 with a call that pissed me off. Ebanks had the ball high on the left wing, and clearly traveled right into Cash, who was guarding him, but the call was on Cash, not a travel. The Mountaineers came out of the timeout with a Jones bucket from Ebanks to take their first lead in a while, and erase a 10 point deficit. It was telling how UC came out of a timeout with no points, and WVU scored. Cash forced up a shot that was short, leading to a run out for an Ebanks traditional 3 point play. UC would tie though on a pair of lay ups, Gates on a cherry pick, and Stephenson went around a defender to tie. Steve Toyloy missed a bunny that could have given UC the lead, and WVU would take it when Bryant made 1 of 2 on Deonta Vaughn's 4th foul at the 9 minute mark. On the rebound, Yancy Gates would be called for an absolute bullshit push off when Wellington Smith, who is shorter than Gates, fell down on the rebound. There was no contact, and UC thought the foul was on WVU. It set Mick off, and he threw his sport coat. Smith made both for a 58-56 lead. Larry Davis continued his defensive mastery with another steal that lead to Bishop getting fouled and making both. Joe Mazzula threw the ball away, and Lance took advantage by driving strong and getting fouled. He made both at 7:57, and UC had a 59-58 lead. Things would turn for the Mountaineers in winning time. Kevin Jones hit a big 3, and after both teams had turnovers, Bryant got fouled and made both for a 4 point lead. Deonta Vaughn took a deep 3 that was unnecessary, even more so when West Virginia got an Ebanks stick back. Vaughn made up for that bucket by driving and getting fouled and making both. The game could have been much different on this possession. West Virginia's Kevin Jones missed a lay up that lead to a UC run out. Larry Davis was as wide open as you are at your computer or cellular device, and missed. It was the type of shot that I'm sure Larry was thinking about on the trip home, and that when UC watches tape, they say "If only that fell." We went into the final media break at 3:19, 66-62. UC dodged a bullet when WVU got 2 shots on their next possession that ended in a Butler miss. Lance and Gates had a miscommunication on the offensive end, leading to a throw away. Stephenson really wasn't happy with Gates there. But things worked out when Thomas got a steal from Jones. Yancy Gates threw up a horrible shot that missed badly. In fact, my notes say "Gates horrible miss whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy." WVU iced the game for all intents and purposes when Jones would get a bucket and foul. He missed the free throw. Vaughn's rushed shot was short, and Thomas and Stephneson couldn't get tips to fall, leading to Butler being fouled and making 1 of 2 with a minute left. Vaughn hit a 3, but the UC press was broken for a Smith dunk that brought the house down. The scoring ended with 1 made free throw by Bryant, a Bishop 3 and 2 free throws by Ebanks. 

UC shot 23-59 39%, 9-21, 13-15, with 28 rebounds, 8 offensive, and 14 assists. UC was called for 26 fouls, only 3 in he last minute. Deonta Vaughn had a nice game 15-5-5 assists, Lance Stephenson had another stellar effort 14-9, Yancy Gates 10 points 0 rebounds. That's unacceptable. Yancy has something like 4 defensive rebounds in the last 6 games or something odd like that. Defensive rebounding is a variable and can be controlled by one or two ball hawks, but your center needs to be one. Ibrahima Thomas had a solid 8-7, Rashad Bishop 7, Steve Toyloy 6, Cashmere Wright 5, and Darnell Wilks 3. Larry Davis 3 steals and played good defense. West Virginia shot 23-54 43%, 7-19, 21-27 free throws, with 39 rebounds, 14 offensive. They committed 13 fouls. Kevin Jones had 15, Truck Bryant 14-4 assists, Devin Ebanks 12-10, Da'Sean Butler only had 8, but had 7 rebounds 5 assists, Cam Thoroughman 7, John Flowers 3-2 steals, Casey Mitchell 3, and Dan Jennings 2-4.

This was yet another one that got away. At this point of the season, this had to have stopped happening in like January. It seems like the Bearcats are floating towards the NIT or CBI. They have 2 chances to make a statement before they have to win 5 games in 5 days in the Big East tournament. It's winning time now guys. Let's see if you have it inside. 

Tomorrow is Senior Day, and I'll try to get something up on the UC players leaving tonight, or tomorrow morning with the Know Your Opponent coming around 3, or 4. Thanks for reading, and show up tomorrow night. Show your appreciation for Deonta Vaughn at least. I don't ask for much, but please show up. If you have any stories about Deonta Vaughn or Steve Toyloy, leave them in the comments, or email them. 

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