Cincinnati improved to 12-0 with a stern test against a game Wright State team Saturday afternoon. I was busy being at a Christmas party and had to watch this one off the DVR. That turned out to be a good thing because this was not a pretty game by any means. We've seen Cincinnati turn in back to back dreadful first halves. We've seen them turn in back to back dreadful shooting performances. With the schedule only getting more intense, this is something that is very worrisome to me. New Mexico lost one Saturday to Nate Wolters and company, but do not think Cincinnati is going to show up and roll over them. That is a very good team coming into the Fraction on the 27th. The second halves of the last two games have been very good. That's encouraging. It's been a while since we've seen this team pour in 60 complete minutes. I'd like to see them round into shape.
Before I get too far into the recap, happy Christmas Eve. If you don't celebrate Christmas, happy holiday you celebrate or don't celebrate. Whatever you do, just try and be happy. That's all we can do. Let the people that you love know you care about them. You don't have to buy them fancy gifts. You don't have to wear silly sweaters. All you have to do is say "Hey man or woman, I pick up what you put down. Props." Or you can say I love you. Or I like you, friend. Either of those things work. All we have are each other. Don't forget that.
Justin Jackson gave out a mixed bag performance. He had 9 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks in a stat sheet filler. But he also turned the ball over 3 times and he took 3 three point shots. He took 2 back to back in the second half. The student section yelled "noooooooo" and "uggggghhhh" when he attempted the shot and missed. I know he's worked on his shot a lot. We hear it from Terry Nelson every attempt he bricks or airballs. Justin Jackson is not a 3 point shooter. He's a tough rebounder. He's a great defender, even though he had quite a few lapses. He can do this:
But his jump shot game is whack. Yeah, I did just say whack. It might be 3 am as I write this.
I feel like Cheikh Mbodj was on his way to having a very nice game. He had 4 points and 5 rebounds. He was hitting the glass hard early. Then he got 2 fouls and sat on the bench almost the entire first half. Then he got in more foul trouble the second half. Cheikh only played 13 minutes. This was a game he legit could have had a double double. It could have been one of his finest in a Bearcat uniform. We will never know.
Cashmere Wright sure as hell had a game to forget. He was just 1-8 from the field and 4-7 from the foul line. On the plus side, he had 3 assists to 0 turnovers and 3 steals. He also had 4 rebounds. Wright State completely took away the 3 ball from Cash. Cashmere only had 1 attempt. I like that he got to the line as a way to compensate, but Cash looked like he was frustrated that he couldn't get the looks he wanted. Not every game can be amazing. You average 12 points a game by scoring 18 in one and 6 in another. This was the 6.
Also, I would like him to get the offense going more. I have no idea why he's averaging under 3.5 assists through 12 games. If you told me that before the season, I would have imagined that Ge'Lawn Guyn became the starting point guard and Cash played off the ball a lot.
Cash's haze was Cincinnati's haze the first half. UC clearly did not match intensity from Wright State the first 10 minutes or so. The Raiders sped up their tempo to start the game, something Cincinnati was clearly not ready for. They looked like they read the stats like I did and figured WSU would play slow. They did not do that. It's hard getting pumped up for a team that you have pretty much always dominated. Like I said up top, I would like to see them play better from the start.
Sean Kilpatrick seemed to have a very quiet game. He finished with 12-6-4 assists. He attempted 9 shots. It seemed like SK was everywhere in the first half. He had 6 of his shot attempts then. He was just very efficient in the second half. SK made all 3 of his shots for 7 points. He led the team in assists. Like I said, it seemed like a quiet game. It wasn't really a quiet game. I think we've, mainly me since I'm writing this article, have become accustomed to him scoring a great deal of points. That wasn't really necessary on Saturday. Kilpatrick set up his teammates very well instead of taking all the shots himself. That shows selflessness.
JaQuon Parker had himself a ball game. UC was down 8 early in the second half. Parker scored 10 in a row as part of a 15 point half in a 21 point performance. That was a lot of numbers in a row thrown out there. Parker hasn't been talked about as much as SK and Cash from 3, but he showed some people by hitting 3 of 5. He got to the line 5 times. Only made 2 though. Parker had 5 rebounds to boot. The great thing about having 3 very experienced players in the backcourt is that one of them has the ability to go off to compensate for another being contained. Parker absolutely went off on Saturday afternoon. Big game for 44.
Titus Rubles played 21 minutes. He attempted 10 shots, scored 11 points, pulled in 9 rebounds, had 3 assists, 4 turnovers, 2 steals and 4 fouls in that span. You knew every second that Titus Rubles was on the court. He was 5-10 from the field, 0-1 from 3 and 1-3 from the foul line. Rubles missed a 3 in the first half. He appeared to be gun shy the rest of the game. That's ok, I like him driving to the basket more. He needs to be a lot more careful with the ball.
There was a funny sequence with Rubles at the 5 minute mark of the first half. He set up Dave Nyarsuk beautifully for a layup. Nyarsuk didn't look ready for the pass and missed. Rubles got the board. He threw a great post entry pass to Nyarsuk. Dave missed terribly. Rubles followed with a put back, as if saying enough of this chicanery, someone has to score and it's me. I liked it.
There was also a moment late in the game when JaQuon did a little crossover, step back move for a jump shot. He left the hand up. It was an airball. I got a kick out of it.
Ge'Lawn Guyn was kind of effective in his time. He had a steal. He had an assist. Most of the time he dogs the guy bringing up the ball on defense. On offense, he brings the ball across the timeline and throws to the guy on the left wing. He did that almost every time Saturday.
Jermaine Sanders did a lot of rebounding in his short amount of time on the floor. He had 4. He knocked down a pair of free throws for his only 2 points. Sanders blew a big opportunity for fun on a break. Rubles threw him a pass so that Sanders could throw an oop. Sanders went for a layup and it was blocked. Rubles was bummed. So was Sanders.
I should have mentioned this in the Titus Rubles section, but Titus Rubles dunking is so fun to watch. He throws it down hard. He's really mastered his timing for follow dunks. He had one against Xavier and he had a vicious one handed follow dunk Saturday. He also threw down an oop and laid one in. He's like Darnell Wilks, except he can do more than jump. So he's nothing like Darnell Wilks. His nickname should be Silky or whatever Wilks' was though.
Kelvin Gaines played some in the first half because of Mbodj's foul trouble. He blocked 3 shots. He could, and probably does, block 3 shots in his sleep. Gaines had 1 shot attempt. It was a wild follow where he came flying down the lane and the shot had no chance. But it was a shot attempt. Baby steps.
I wonder why he started wearing a t shirt under his jersey. It looks kind of weird. I don't think he pulls it off.
David Nyarsuk was not great. He blocked 4 shots. He blocked one very emphatically. He was a mess offensively. 1-4. None of his misses looked like shots that could have gone in. He only had 2 rebounds. Also had 2 fouls. Not the best of games from Dave.
I've given Terry Nelson a lot of guff in the past. I thought he was very good during the Wright State game. I fast forward all the dead ball times like free throws and what have you, so I missed those comments. Terry was adding a lot of insight to the action. He seemed more serious about making points and had some stats. He didn't just show up and talk into the microphone like it seemed he did in early games. Good job, Terry.
I skipped Shaq Thomas in the box score. Shaq needs to stop hitting the square button twice when he's in the air to change his shot. It seems like he could go up for a (relatively) easy shot in the lane and he adds a degree of difficulty to it. Like an invisible man is trying to block it. Chill, Shaq.
Shaq had one of my favorite moments of the game. After his missed his first free throw attempt, he stepped off the line and did the practice free throw motion. He nailed the second. I suggest he do the practice motion all the time.
The rest of the team should do the practice motion. 11-21 from the stripe. Things like this are the difference between elite teams and between teams that get bounced in the elite 8 or sweet 16.
Jerran Young had the first double double of the season for Wright State with a 14-10 performance. Good job, Jerran!
I'll post if anything big happens tomorrow or on Christmas. Other than maybe posting the top 25 if UC is in the top 10, I'm done for the next couple days. Have a great Christmas, everyone.
Photos via Cincinnati.com