Cincinnati struggled early in the game on both sides of the ball. It took the Cats five-in-a-half minutes to score it's first field goal of the game. The first field goal of the season came from senior forward Justin Jackson on a lay up. Jackson finish the game with 8 points, 3 rebounds and 3 blocks.
UC could not find the right combination on defense to stop the Eagles in their half court set. NCCU gave the Bearcats fits down low with forward Jay Copeland and outside with guard Jeremy Ingram.
Coach Mick Cronin spoke about the lack of half court defense from his team, "I'm really disappointed in our half court defense; we have a long way to go," Coach Cronin explained.
"You can't be a really good defensive team if you don't have five players playing as one," Coach Cronin added. I was struggling all night to find five players to play as a unit on the defensive end."
With all the hype of the season opener, the Bearcats seem to let that get to them early when the Eagles led by 8 in the first half. "That usually happens with the season openers, we're so use to playing each other throughout the summer, then leading into preseason that's when it's time for the real running to start," said Sean Kilpatrick. "Everyone is so hyped because we're playing everyone else now."
The Bearcats would slow down midway through the first half behind Titus Rubles and Jermaine Sanders play. Rubles ended the first half as the leading scorer for UC with 9 points; he finish with 13 points and 8 rebounds.
Sanders would finish with 13 points, 4 of 8 from the field, 3-6 behind the arch, 4 rebounds and 3 assist. He spoke about is performance, "It was good for me, just to get me in the groove offensively," Sanders said. "Seeing my shot go in just gave me a boost of confidence."
For the Eagles in the second half they would loss their top performers in Copeland and Ingram to foul trouble. Ingram finish the game with 27 points, while Copeland finish with 11 points and 8 rebounds.
When asked how he felt about his team giving up so many points to the opposing team, Kilpatrick had this to say, "I'm not happy! When a team comes in our gym scores over 50 points or 54 I'll say...I'm not happy at all," he stated.
Bearcats cursed to their first win of the season behind the play of young players mixed with the veterans. Kilpatrick explained how it's gonna take the younger guys to step up this year to make this season successful.
"We need them to win, it's not a player on this team we don't need," Kilpatrick explained. "That's something we have to continue to work on with these young guys, because it's not the exhibition games anymore, the running starts now."
And the running continues this coming Tuesday as the Bearcats face North Carolina State at Fifth Third Arena.