Oh, so that happened. The Cincinnati Bearcats fell to the mighty Xavier Musketeers last night in a gruesome battle that seemed to done after the 1st half. It was so ugly from the start that they didn’t make their first basket 5 minutes in the game and it went downhill from there.
While their first half was terrible to watch, the 2nd half sparked new life when they had a 10-0 run in the first couple minutes. Even though they were down 5 at one point, they couldn’t stop Xavier’s impressive guards and their dominance inside the paint. One feat I was impressed with was that they held the Xavier star Trevon Bluiett to just 3 points the entire game. He averages 15 points a game, the highest of the Xavier’s roster. But, Chris Mack knew that was coming from Cincinnati’s strong defense and he demanded that his other players step up and deliver. It was in the form of Myles Davis and Edmond Summer, who contributed 28 points together.
I feel like this game would’ve been different if it weren’t for those freakin turnovers. UC had 16 turnovers and xavier scored 19 points off of those turnovers. Ridiculous. Coming into this game, the players knew they had to play better than they did before and protect the ball at all costs. It wasn’t executed. There was one point in the 2nd half that they were down 5 but three straight turnovers by Kevin Johnson allowed Xavier to score and score for the remainder of the game and the Bearcats could not catch up. With Iowa State and VCU coming up, I don’t know how Cronin plans on turning this team around and getting them to play better. Their defense was good, the scoring was average but at the end of the day, it wasn’t a team effort and they got floored by a good team.
There is so much a coach can do for his players to prep for games in College basketball, including big/rivalry games. It’s up to the players to execute and show that they want it too. I know this team has great potential to be the best team in the country. They showed it last year when Cronin was out, heading into the tournament…they beat Purdue and played against the #1 team in the country, Kentucky. Even though they lost the game, they showed real promise and gave Kentucky a scare in the first half. This years team is exactly the same from last year with the exception of losing Jermaine Sanders to graduation. Being a UC graduate, I just hate losing to Xavier. They have now beaten us the past 3 seasons and it’s beginning to aggravate me. It just makes me wonder if the UC players are just comfortable to lose against them no matter how good they are. Last night, I did not see one senior out of the group of 4 and lead this team. Yes, I’m ranting but it was so frustrating to see them play like that and just give in. Yes they held them to 65 points but the efforts of Gary Clark was non existent and Troy and Farad contributed little in the outside shooting. They need to do more if they expect to beat VCU and Iowa State in the long run. It just has to happen. Hopefully Cronin can get them ready until then.