PREGAME: Welcome to Fifth Third Arena everybody! We are gathered here today to witness a contest between the UC Bearcats and the DePaul Blue Demons. Let us take a moment to rejoice ... Lance Stephenson's epic slam against DePaul two years ago.
In fact, let's take a moment to watch Lance JAM IT IN THE HOOP!
(Gonna have to scroll down the page some, but it's worth it...)
OK, time to get back to the present. Here's the situation: The 'Cats are coming off three straight losses and desperately need to take care of business against the Demons, who are 11-10 overall and just 2-7 in the Big East (second-to-last place). DePaul is coached by former Dayton head coach Oliver Purnell, in his second season at the Chicago school (18-33 so far).
DePaul, which lost its last game 87-81 to St. John's on Wednesday, is led by sophomore forward Cleveland Melvin, a 6-foot-8 dude from Baltimore who averages 18 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Fellow sophomore (and fellow Baltimoretonian) Brandon Young is a 6-3 guard who chips in 15.9 points per contest.
UC's leading scorer (of course) is Sean Kilpatrick, with 15.4 per game, and senior Dion Dixon adds 13.6. Yancy Gates and Cashmere Wright also average double digit points per game, with 12.7 and 10.7, respectively.
DePaul averages 74.9 points per game, while UC's defense only gives up 60.1. Something's gonna have to give there, right?!? DePaul also averages quite a lot of steals per game, with its 8.6 even better than UC's 8.1. The 'Cats will need to take care of the ball in order to give themselves ample opportunities to jam it in the hoop.
We're five minutes from gametime — just enough time to refresh the Sprite and get this live blog ready to roll.
20:00: Yancy Gates wins the tip, and the Bearclaws start the game with the ball. Nice jump, Yancy! (Too bad Kilpatrick's drive to the basket results in a big 'ol block.) Then UC causes a jump ball and DePaul has to start over.
19:03: Oops! DePaul takes a while to get the ball across the half court line and then never even gets a shot off. Turnover...
18:26: After a Kilpatrick missed 3, DePaul turns the ball over in transition. TO #3. Dion drives to the basket and gets fouled. Dion makes both and the 'Cats lead 2-0.
UC starts the game playing zone D, and the initial results are promising. DePaul just keeps turning the ball over instead of putting it into the bucket.
17:39: Kilpatrick makes a J but then Jamee Crockett hits a 3 for the bad guys. UC 4-3.
16:58: Charles McKinney drives to the rack and is fouled by Gates after DePaul breaks the press. McK makes the first, missed the second and Crockett tips it in for a 6-4 lead.
16:36: Parker scores down low for UC. But Crockett hits a 3. 6-9.
15:47: Off a turnover Justin Jackson thumps one in transition. That's how you jam it, Justin! 8-9.
15:19: Jeremiah Davis steals the ball right from the DePaul guard and hits Dion, who is fouled going up. Dion makes both (again). 10-9.
Oliver Purnell's suit looks a little too big for him. Dude needs to hit up Men's Warehouse. Unless he's shrinking, in which case I'd just let it go, too.
14:50: Kilpatrick jams a runout but dang-on DePaul scores right back. 12-11.
Mick Cronin looks cool in his suit — probably went to H&M and then got it tailored. He even has a little red cloth thingy in his breast pocket.
13:40: Jackson grabs a big offensive rebound, slams the ball down and then goes up, scores and is fouled. Big dog. FT missed. 14-11.
12:56: Worrel Clahar scores a floater over JJ, who goes right back to the rack on the other end and is fouled. JJ makes the first, and the second. 16-13.
11:46: After a basket by some dude named Krys Faber (sounds fake), Yancy goes up strong for 2. 18-15. THEN GATES SUPER SLAMS AN ALLEY OOP! 20-15. (That one should have been worth more than 2, but alas the rules of the game can't change once a game starts.)
MEDIA TIMEOUT: Some dude almost makes a halfcourt shot. Too bad — no free car or whatever for you, guy. Free T-shirts are now being throw into the crowd, which is responding as expected (enthusiastically).
10:30: Charles McKinney goes strong to the bucket, then Cleveland Melvin finally gets in the mix with a breakaway slam. 20-19. JJ scores on the other end. 22-19.
9:53: Melvin again for 2 off a busted play. And then another runout layup. Cronin calls timeout, unhappy with the score being 22-23 now.
9:25: DePaul's uniforms kind of look like the Harlem Globetrotters from behind. Too bad No. 21 can't make a break away layup. He should have tried to do a trick if he was going to miss it anyway. DUDE! Mbodj just got fouled on his way up, lost the ball way up into the air and it came straight down through the hoop! The crowd liked it a lot. 24-23.
8:53: Melvin somehow gets lost along the baseline, receives a pass and easily tosses it in the basket. Mick has to be pissed. He still has his pocket square thing looking straight, though.
7:56: Davis dishes to Gates, who banks it in. And, oh yea, he got fouled again. Seventh foul on the blue team. Gates makes the free shot. 27-25.
7:38: Nice take by Worrell for a jumper, then Melvin scores off a turnover and it's 27-29. Cronin mad? Can't really tell from up in the blogger seats.
7:03: Kilpatrick makes one-of-two FTs. 28-29. JJ comes back into the game to do some more cool stuff.
6:49: Melvin again scores in the paint. That's 12 for him. And UC turns the ball over. Cronin tells somebody to slow down and then points toward the area where he was supposed to go or throw the ball something. 28-31.
6:04: Foul called on Ge'Lawn Guyn causes some boos from the crowd. No. 0 makes both free throws and it's 28-33, DePaul's biggest lead of the game.
5:48: Dixon does a tricky backwards head fake and gets to the line. He makes both. 30-33.
5:10: Melvin tries to shake JJ, who has none of it. Melvin's shot is busted and Dixon scores on a drive on the other end. 32-33.
4:12: Crockett bricks a 3 but the long rebound stays with DePaul. Then McKinney falls over with the shot clock down to 3 and a foul is called on Gates.
3:09: Dixon's long 3 is short, Melvin missed a 3, and Davis is fouled after a weird play.
MEDIA TIMEOUT: I should have gotten here earlier and eaten a snack instead of sitting here with only Sprite to enjoy. Sprite is delicious and quenches thirst well, but it doesn't do much for hunger. Wish I had some peanuts or something...
3:09: Davis goes to the line to shoot 2, as the Blue Demons have exercised all the fouls they're allowed in one half. Freebies from here on out if the 'Cats can get their hands slapped or something. Davis is cool — he's from Muncie, Ind. (Pronounced "Munchie.") But he misses his first shot, and the second. :(
DEPAUL! Y'ALL BETTER STOP TURNING THE BALL OVER SO MUCH! HOW HARD IS IT NOT TO CARRY! DANG!
Nobody has scored in a while. It's still 32-34. JJ gets a defensive rebound and is fouled. BONUS TIME!
2:09: JJ swishes his first free throw, missed the second. 33-34.
2:01: JJ late to the spot trying to trap, fouls Melvin. 1+1 for Cleveland, who misses it. Mbodj rebound.
1:40: Kilpatrick misses another 3-ball. Young's layup is goaltended by Mbodj. 33-36.
:35: Mbodj misses a turnaround jumper pretty badly, and Young hits a J after a wild team rebound.
:02: Big 3 by Kilpatrick to end the half for the 'Cats. 36-38.
HALFTIME: Let's get into the first half numbers while Cronin yells at his dudes in the locker room. DePaul shot 48 percent for the half but were just 2-of-10 from 3-point-land. UC shot 40 percent from the field and missed eight of nine 3s but went to the line 17 times, leading to 11 points.
Justin Jackson leads UC with 9 points, while SK and Dion have 8 each. Cleveland Melvin already has a double-double for DePaul with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Somebody needs to stop that dude — he's only a sophomore, who cares if he's 6-8?!?
If one were to guess what Cronin is most angry about in the locker room, it's probably DePaul's 7 second-chance points and 11 fast break points. Those are just too easy of points.
19:49: Cashmere Wright might have only played 8 minutes in the first half, but it only took him 11 seconds to score in the second half. Too bad that bastard Melvin answered on the other end. 38-40.
19:26: Dixon gets fouled, makes both FTs. Tie ballgame.
18:50: Yancy swats Melvin's drive and it bounced out of bounds. UC steals the ball, and Gates gets fouled going up with an offensive rebound. Yancy misses both his free shots, though. :/
18:15: Dion hesitate dribbles from the left wing and then ... JAMS IT IN THE HOOP WITH TWO HANDS! 42-40. DePaul has to take a timeout so Oliver can yell at somebody for that one.
The Bearcat mascot struts around too much. He should be more humble. It's not like he worked his whole life to earn his job — he's just a Bearcat. Kind of fell into that gig if you ask me.
17:47: Cleveland Melvin scores again. he can't be stopped. 42-42.
16:44: Jaquon Parker scores on a fast break, UC defends Charles McKinney well and then Dion gets knocked down for DePaul team foul No. 3.
16:28: JJ scores after a weird long rebound and an almost-travel by Cashmere. He'll take the dime anyway. 46-42.
15:59: Melvin flips around and loses the ball to Gates, who for some reason leads the break and then throws the ball out of bounds toward Cashmere, the dude whose job it is to make cross-court throws (ONLY WHEN APPROPRIATE!). Media timeout so we can learn about Cincinnati's best casual barbecue restaurants and the Tristate's news, weather and traffic radio station. Who didn't already know these things?
15:25: Jackson gets a steal and dishes for SK for 2. But Melvin dunks on the other end. 48-44.
14:20: OLIVER PURNELL HEIGHT UPDATE: Purnell's suit is definitely looser than at the start of the game. It is confirmed that he is shrinking at a very rapid pace. He's going to end up in one of Cronin's backup suits at this rate. He won't care, however, if his dudes keep banking in 3-pointers. 48-47.
Gates misses a turnaround from close range and JJ can't quite get his hands on the rebound. JJ mad. UC's trap defense is in full effect, and the half-court set is pretty feisty too. Kelvin Gaines checks in for the first time to a nice applause from the home crowd. Cincinnatians like how rough he plays. It's funny.
12:30: Davis almost loses the ball and Cronin looks at his bench like he's mad enough to take him out, but then he doesn't. Crockett gets a long outlet off a UC turnover and jams it for the lead. 48-49.
12:08: Cash rips DePaul's PG, Dixon scores in transition and then the ref makes a terrible call when it looked like DePaul turned the ball over. The crowd is not happy.
11:42: The blue team hits a 3 and Cronin takes a timeout to tell his guys to stop letting that happen. 50-52.
11:25: SK answers with a big three. 53-52.
10:33: Young hits a 3 after Cash tried to lure a foul with some dude flying up into the air.
10:05: JJ follow up dunk and then a big block on the other end. 55-55. Too bad Parker is called for a charge during a 3-on-2. Media timeout to discuss whether this game should be stopped early because it is pretty [expletive] boring so far.
Ten minutes remaining in the game — who will score the most points before the end? We're about to find out...
9:40: Strong take by Crockett, who hits a fall-away J. 57-55.
Foul number 5 on DePaul. UC just missed a bucket and then DePaul blows a 3-on-1 in transition. This game sucks.
Foul No. 6 on the blue team on a stupid entry bass to Gates. Cash misses a crazy reverse.
8:51: Cash gets a steal and earns a goal tend bucket. 57-57.
7:47: With the shot clock winding down, DePaul rams JJ on a pick. And that means team foul number 7 and a media timeout. Many people are using the break in action to hit up the restrooms. Y'all can't hold it for another 7:47? "Raise your hand if you had too many pregame beers? Why isn't anyone raising their hands? They're all in the bathroom missing the game and getting more beers. Oh, OK."
Still 7:47: JJ shoots the front end of a 1-and-1, and makes it. Big shot. And the second? Miss but Gates gets a big one-handed rebound and putback! 60-57.
7:30: Answer by Crockett. 60-59.
6:54: Gates hits a soft 14-footer but Young scores right back. 62-61.
5:50: Dion pops a long three and misses, and McKinney scores on the other end. 62-62.
5:39: Team foul No. 8 is called in DePaul, and it seems like someone has fouled out? Yup, it's Jamee Crockett, who can take his 17 points right to the bench. Good riddance. Jackson is back at the free throw line for more important free shots. JJ misses. :(
5:05: UC is back in a zone, and DePaul gets an offensive rebound and Krys "Fake Name" Faber goes to the line to shoot two. Faber makes one. 62-64.
4: 06: Cash can't hit a pull up jumper, but comes back with a big 3 to take the lead. 65-64. Timeout DePaul because the crowd is making too much noise. The stadium PA operator has now turned on some "Jump Around" to keep everyone hyped during the break. It pretty much works.
3:00: Big stop by the 'Cats D, and Parker scores a tip-in and the people start jumping around just like the song! 67-64.
2:39: Cash skies for a defensive rebound and then draws DePaul team foul number 9 on the other end. He'll go to the line for a 1+1. Now it's time for "Shout" to keep everyone enjoying themselves during the break in action. It works too. This is an easily entertained crowd, apparently. Uh oh, now there's some Guns N' Roses playing — gotta be for the players. We'll see if that works. NOW BACK TO BASKETBALL! Cash hits the first for a four-point lead. And the second. 69-64.
2:10: The trap is not called off, and the Shoe is LOUD. Big rebound by Parker, and Cash kills some clock... then scores on a strong drive. 71-64. Timeout Oliver Purnell, who can barely even walk around HIS CLOTHES ARE SO HUGE ON HIM. It's a 9-0 run for the Bearcats, which has satiated the home crowd. (What the hell does satiate mean?)
1:24: Back to the zone D and DePaul bricks another 3. SK gets the rebound and DePaul commits team foul number 10. Bonus Time. SK hits the first. Boy, things went downhill for the blue team in a hurry. And he misses the second. 72-64. Yancy commits an ill-advised a really smart foul (see Cronin's postgame comments), but it's only number 4 on him and 5 on the team.
:48: DePaul wastes a ton of time on offense, letting the shot clock get down to 2 before JJ swats some dude down low and the ball goes out of bounds off the blue team. UC gets the ball across half court and Purnell calls off the dogs. Cash runs the shot clock down, air balls a 3 and Dixon puts it in. No. 32 for DePaul scores a windmill slam but it's for nothing (well, 2 points).
UC wins 74-66!
POSTGAME: Big win for the Bearclaws, who broke a three-game losing streak and move to 6-4 in the Big East. They're tied for fifth place, but only one game back in the loss column of third-place Georgetown.
In the second half the Bearcats finally slowed ironman Cleveland Melvin, who only added six points and three rebounds to the 12 and 10 he had in the first half. UC ended the game with five players in double digits: Dixon and Kilpatrick with 16, Jackson with 14 and Yancy and Cash with 11 each. Cash came through down the stretch after playing only 8 minutes in the first half due to a couple of early fouls. He finished the game with four assists, zero turnovers and three steals.
Dixon hit all eight of his free throws tonight, and JJ made all five of his field goal attempts. Here's what Cronin had to say about JJ's efficiency: “There's a reason that hes 5-for-5 — he takes high percentage shots, and there's a reason other guys are 4-for-14 — they take bad shots.”
More on JJ from Cronin: “We wouldn't have won without him tonight.”
On JJ not starting: “It was just a matter of he hadn't been productive. I try to look at things analytically instead of emotionally and get mad at this guy or at that guy. At the end of the day I love very one of these guys so its a matter of production.”
Cronin on the team's play overall: “I was really happy with our composure all night — as happy as I've been in a while. … The guys stayed calm throughout everything that was going on. Sometimes you're missing layups and the other team's making some tough shots and you can hang your head and panic and I thought we did a great job of not panicking and getting to the free throw line and being patient, taking shots we can rebound.”
Cronin on the importance of tonight's win: “It's just like my friend Dean Gregory (sp?) who doesn't get many wins in golf — you'll take a win any way you can get it because wins are rare, especially for him when he plays me.
Reporter: “Is that the case for many people?”
Cronin: “That's why I play him.”
Cronin on his team playing smart: “I just want the team to play smart: act like a team, practice like a team, play with composure and the rest takes care of itself. And we didn't do that at Rutgers, whether we would have won or lost. Winning is byproduct of team play and playing smart. Late in the game we had fouls to give and Yancy and Jaquon were rebounding extremely hard on free throws — under instruction. We got some rebounds off of missed free throws because we had fouls to give — you can gamble and be aggressive. … Yancy gets a foul (with just over a minute to play) and the crowd is all 'Ohh' but he's supposed to take that foul. Take a foul so we can go set our defense so DePaul can't race it down on us. So a smart play by him right there. If not he's trailing and they're on the run.”
Cash on his turnaround in the second half: “I didn't play too much in the first half, I was in foul trouble. But I guess we just took our time in the second half. In the first half we were pressing, not really running our offense and taking the first available shot.”
Cash and Sean Kilpatrick on SK's big tip-in late in the game:
SK: “I forgot who shot it.”
Cash: “I shot it.”
SK: “I should have known (laughter). I saw when he shot the ball nobody boxed me out. I was at the top of the key and I saw everybody just standing around — not our guys but them — so I just went up down the middle. And I thought about dunking it but I thought no ill just put it in.”
DePaul Head Coach Oliver Purnell just before exiting the postgame press conference: “Alright, happy Super Bowl."