Depth was a huge key in the win, as the Bearcats had ten different players score and eleven players play at least eight minutes.
Cincinnati got off to a fast start leading 39-23 at halftime and shot fifty percent from the floor, including seventy percent from inside the three point line. In the second half the Bearcats became a little sloppy offensively only outscoring Winthrop 35-34 and only out rebounding the Eagles 17-16 in the second half. The Bearcats also turned the ball over eleven times in the closing half, however among the struggles the Bearcats still shot 52.4 percent from the field.
About the performance Mick Cronin said… “We executed our offense as good as we have all year, played really well then went on vacation in the second half, good players making plays that there better then that…. If we can get to a point where the guy with the basketball makes the right decision were going to be all right.”
During the impressive first half Cincinnati was led by sophomore Yancy Gates who scored 14 of his 16 points on the night and pulling down seven rebounds on the night. Gates, who only played four minutes against Lipscomb might have enjoyed an even bigger night if Mick Cronin has his way.
Cronin said about Gates performance… “I was pleased with Yancy’s effort, I was displeased with our inability to get him the basketball in the second half, Not only did we not get him the ball, we didn’t even use him as a decoy to get them to a point where they had to put two or three guys on them to leave other guys open.”
Another Bearcat who had a big night was Oklahoma State transfer Ibrahima Thomas who scored eleven points in just fifteen minutes of action, after only playing five minutes in the first half due to foul trouble. In those five minutes however, Thomas scored seven points as he is starting to fit into the system in just his fourth game back after sitting out the early part of the schedule.
Thomas who also hit a three in the game can be a complete mismatch problem for some other power forwards with his tools. Thomas had this to say about why he chose to transfer to UC “I want to go to a school that fits my game, the system was not fitting my game (at Oklahoma St.), I think here I could be a good player.”
Deonta Vaughn also played well in this game finishing with eleven points on 3-4 shooting, 3-3 from three point range. Vaughn also added three assists and four rebounds on the night, in which his coach was really pleased with his shot selection. Cronin said “What I liked was in the first half he didn’t shoot the ball at all because he wasn’t open… Make sure he takes good shots and achieve balance he’ll continue to make shots.”
Also on the night, his eleven points tied Darnell Burton for tenth on the Cincinnati all-time scoring list. Next up on the list is Lloyd Batts, who Vaughn is only one point behind and Deonta is only 14 points behind Jack Tyman for eighth on the all-time list.
As for the freshman update, Lance Stephenson played the most minutes of any Bearcat, seeing 28 minutes of action and scored eight points, grabbing four rebounds and dished out five assists. Stephenson who was 4-7 from the floor tonight really impressed Winthrop coach Randy Peele. Peele said about Stephenson “He is a scorer deluxe… the guy I had on him was the defensive player of the year in our league. Robinson is one of the best defenders in the country; you haven’t stopped him until he gives up the ball…. He’s a tough matchup, because of his size he has the ability to shoot over you.”
Redshirt freshman point guard Cashmere Wright played 22 minutes on the night, scoring five points, grabbing three rebounds, and dishing out three assists. Most importantly Cashmere Wright did not have any turnovers on the night and is starting to look comfortable on the college level. Suffolk, Virginia guard Jaquon Parker played eight minutes scoring 3 points, on 1-1 shooting from three point land and grabbed three rebounds.
The Bearcats are off until Wednesday December 30th when they open Big East play against the Connecticut Huskies at Fifth Third Arena at 7 pm. I will post live in the forum from the game, and we will talk UC Basketball on the message boards until game time.