Hi from Fifth Third Arena!
The UC Bearcats just finished warming up for their contest against the South Florida Bulls. Before they headed into the locker room Darnell Wilks tried a windmill jam with the ball near his knees and Cashmere Wright tried to throw in a crazy rebound. The 'Cats look ready to play some ball.
More to come once the game starts...
UPDATE: South Florida is now practicing a layup drill. The Bulls are without last year's best player, guard Dominique Jones, who led the Big East in scoring and was named to the AP Honorable Mention All-America Team. Good thing he's gone.
This year's best Bull is 6-foot-10 junior forward Augustus Gilchrist who's averaging 13 points and 6.5 rebounds pergame. In Big East play he's at 18.5 and 8. But USF is 0-4 in the conference so...
PREGAME: South Florida is currently 6-11 and winless in Big East play. The Bulls lost their last game 86-77 to Louisville and are 7-21 overall against the Bearcats. Because the Bearcats have been pretty good in the past. (Not that they aren't good now; don't be so sensitive!)
The Bulls' media guide requests that witnesses of this game pay particular attention to junior forward Ron Anderson Jr., who it says "makes his presence known on the boards, whether he is in the first five or comes off the bench."
He's starting tonight. Uh oh... He's coming off the bench tonight...
20:00 The Bearcats won the tipoff but the game clock failed to begin counting down the time until the first half ends. Temporary break in action...
19:54 Game clock is set to 19:54. Proceed with the contest.
19:42 Rashad Bishop runs around a little screen and gets an easy jumper in the lane, which he makes. 2-0.
18:10 After trading missed 3's three times (two for USF, one for Bishop), Dion Dixon hits a shot that's worth 2. 4-0.
Hugh Robertson scores on the other end. 5-2.
Dion Dixon takes an offensive rebound coast to coast and gets fouled by several dudes way bigger than him. The foul is charged to Gilchrist. Dixon misses the first one, makes the second. 5-2.
Ibrahima Thomas took his customary first-half 3-ball a little early today. Gates' rebound is tied up and the possession arrow says South Florida on it.
15:49 Jawanza Poland scores a runner off the glass and the other end, Thomas and Cashmere Wright take turns almost losing the ball before Wright misses a shot and the rebound goes off Gates' hands out of bounds. Media timeout/Skyline time. 5-4.
14:45 The Bearcats come out in full court defense and USF promptly tosses the ball onto the scorers' table. Illegal. Bearcat ball. Darnell Wilks is rejected on one end, the ball is quickly turned over and Wilks is rejected and fouled on attempted dunk No. 2. Wilks makes both free throws. 7-4.
After missed 3s on each end, South Florida's Ron Anderson Jr. is packed (rejected; blocked; cleanly contested) by Gates and a whistle is blown, causing the few thousand in attendance to groan and say "booo." 7-6.
Gates strong to the rack. 9-6.
Poland quickly scores on the other end. 9-8.
11:48 Dion Dixon misses his 1,000th 3-pointer of the season and Poland matches him. Gates misses a shot. USF turnover. Bishop misses a short jumper. RON ANDERSON JR. OFFENSIVE REBOUND AND PUTBACK! The media guide warned us of this. 9-10. Mick Cronin uses timeout No. 1 to discuss.
11:20 Larry Davis misses a 3 and Sean Kilpatrick rebounds and misses a 3 of his own. The media takes a timeout to discuss this unfortunate shooting display.
10:40 Biggie McClain enters the game for UC, along with Justin Jackson and Jaquon Parker. The big guys must be tired. Biggie leaves his feet on defense but comes down in time to block a shot. Biggie uses his big body on offense to box out a little guy and score a layup.
Gilchrist answers with a 12-foot jumper.
Justin Jackson scores a strong basket. Well, he was strong. Normal basket; good jump and lay in. 13-12.
LaVonte Dority on the other end. Kilpatrick answers with a 3. 16-14.
Double turnover and quick jumper by Poland. 16-16 tie.
8:19 Parker pretends he started the game and is in charge of offense. Straight to the basket; fouled; misses free throw; makes free throw. 17-16.
Jackson deflects an inbound pass, flips up over the courtside humans and chairs and receives an applause for his effort/pain. Ensuing attempt at taking the ball up the court goes awry, and UC gets the ball back.
7:44 Jackson for the second time in five minutes has the ball poked out of his hands from behind. He should really look behind him when he gets the ball! Jarrid Famous (another classic South Florida name) drives on the other end and is fouled but misses the layup. One of his boys did a fake follow-up slam but it didn't count. Showoff. 17-18.
7:24 Rashad Bishop earns UC's first "Real Dumb Foul of the Game," receiving a technical foul for glaring at the ref after getting blocked/bumped while attempting a layup. Mick Cronin politely asks the authorities what is going on, as the crowd yells obscenities that are quite easy to decipher. Noriega makes two free throws. 17-20.
After a hand-check foul on Wright that made the crowd even more mad, Anthony Crater hits a 3. Thomas is fouled on the floor on the other end by Mr. Famous. No shot. No basket. Just a foul on the floor. Still 17-23.
Kilpatrick scores a 2-pointer. 19-23.
5:53 Augustus Gilchrist scores on Gates. Gates responds with a big slam dunk. Timeout South Florida. 21-25.
5:30 Sean Kilpatrick pokes the ball away from the USF guard, a chase for the ball ensues near the sideline and Kilpatrick is knocked down but no foul. More anger in the audience.
Kilpatrick rebound, runs to the goal and scores in traffic. He's a good freshman. 23-25.
After a turnover, Cashmere Wright hits a 3 and the anger turns to excitement. 26-25.
Bad miss by Gilchrist from 3/successful 3 by Kilpatrick. 29-25.
Crater for 2. 29-27.
3:29 UC runs a set play and Kilpatrick is the victim of a Poland foul. He makes two free shots. 31-27.
Full-court press nearly forces a 5-second call and the ensuing crappy pass goes to Dixon, who scores it. H. Robertson scores on the other end. 33-29.
Dixon offensive rebound/casual three point swish. 36-29.
1:45 Gates is called for a foul on Gilchrist; chants of B.S. ensue. 36-30.
RON ANDERSON JR. scores after a very sloppy USF possession. 36-32.
:54.2 Dixon fouled on the floor. Eighth team foul=1 1. Dixon gets 1. 37-32.
The Bearcats' final possession of the half need not be described. 37-32.
HALFTIME: Both teams are shooting 48 percent from the floor, but UC is 4-12 from 3-point-land while USF is just 1-7. Hugh Robertson has three fouls for USF. Bishop, Ibrahima and Gates each have two for UC. Not a particularly impressive half for either team. Luckily there's one more to go!
Luke Lewis is taking over live blog duties because this article's original author writes too much.
The Cats finished the first half strong after being down 17-23 with about 6 minutes remaining. Let's see if they can keep up the momentum.
17:50 Bearcats halfcourt defense is giving the Bulls trouble. Teams exchange buckets. 39-34 Cats.
16:07 Cats force another turnover. Both teams looking a little sloppy in their halfcourt set. Cats up 44-38
Kilpatrick is yet to check into the second half after leading the Cats with 12 points in the first. Let's see when Cronin gets pissed off at someone and brings him in.
14:13 Cronin brings in the second line to spell Gates, Bishop, Jackson — each with two fouls. Cats 44-39.
12:43 Larry Davis sinks the Cats
second consecutive three a three-pointer after Wilks' long 2. Cats up 49-39. USF calls timeout to discuss trying a new defense that doesn't suck as much...
12:27 Gates returns; Thomas sits down. Bearcats happy. Enter Kilpatrick, successful 3-point try. Cats up 52-41.
9:44 Kilpatrick sinks another open three. The Bearcats' good defense and ability to make WIDE OPEN 3s is burying the Bulls. Cats 55-46.
8:50 The Cats have given up at least 3 easy baskets this half as the Bulls aren't having too much trouble with the full-court press. Now that the Cats have built up a little cushion, let's see if Cronin calls off the pressure to slow the pace down a little.
7:34 God-damn. The Bulls are on like a 9 point run or something. Cronin is firing off 'F' bombs on the sideline during this Cats' timeout. Cats 56-52.
The Cats are looking sharp as they run on the the court following a media timeout. The student section did that 'ohhhhh, ohhhhh, ohhhhh.... UC!' chant. That usually works.
6:00 Ibrahima fouled out. Cats up 60-54.
4:36 After trading baskets/turnovers the Cats are up 62-56.
3:45 Dion Dixon scores on an icy-cold spin move after a UC runout. South Florida responds by dumping the ball down to Jarrid Famous who is fouled HARD by somebody on our defense. Bulls are shooting two. Cats up 64-56.
2:50 Wilks drives to the rim and 'frog-flops' the ball into the student section as he is fouled hard. Wilks makes both free throws. Cats 66-57.
2:27 Oops. The Bulls turn the ball over at halfcourt. They're gonna lose. At this point they would be well-served to start chucking up a bunch of threes.
1:07 USF sinks a three after a timeout and shrinks the Cats lead to seven. The Bearcats will inbound the ball with an opportunity to make some free throws and put the game away. Cashmere Wright is fouled and will shoot two shots.
:51 The Bulls turn the pill over once again and foul Cash at half-court. Cats 71-62.
Game over. Bearcats win 74-66.
POSTGAME: Freshman Sean Kilpatrick leads the Bearcats with 18 points on 6-10 shooting, including 4-5 from 3. Kid is legit. Wilks chipped in 12 points and four steals during a solid 23 minutes and hit 8-of-8 free throws. Cashmere and Dion each had 12 points.
USF ended up 3-11 from three and committed 18 turnovers. UC had 10 steals.
South Florida Coach Stan Heath on the Bearcats: "I think they're for real. I really do."
"Guys are coming into the game off the bench and they have terriffic depth and they don't miss a beat."
Mick Cronin on Darnell Wilks possibly playing his best game of the year: "That may be Darnell Wilks' best game of the year."
Darnell Wilks after noticing on the stat sheet that he had zero defensive rebounds: "I didn't have that many. I need to get more of those."
Cronin on Ibrahima Thomas' five fouls in 12 minutes: "That's probably his worst game of the year tonight. He'd tell you that, too. The thing is he may be the nicest kid I've ever coached. He maybe needs therapy. He has an addiction of reaching in and playing defense with his hands. They say the last step is denial, so he's still in denial. I have to get him in recovery stage."
Cronin after praising tonight's play of Justin Jackson and then referencing his benching of Jackson after one minute during the Xavier game for committing a reach-in foul at midcourt: "One thing about him — he loves to play some basketball. I try to take that away from him, teach him a lesson."
Cronin on the upcoming three-game road trip against Syracuse, Notre Dame and St. John's: "The issue is that you can conceivably play well and lose two out of three or one out of three or all three. Welcome to my world. Are we ready for it? We'll see. I take them one at a time. Take Syracuse: I like the fact that we physically match up with them. For us it's gonna be a matter of execution."