Perhaps inspired to keep his place as the lead-guard on the Bearcats roster with the return of Moore to the lineup and Jihad Muhammad's recent decision to show a pulse while on the floor, Downey played as perfect as one could expect of an undersized freshman playing against major competition. Downey shook defenders, stepped into passing lanes and led the break like the seasoned veterans from whom he is trying to steal playing time from.
UC came into the game a 10-point underdog against a Vanderbilt team that has been a surprising upstart in the SEC over the past few years. Vandy is seldom an easy place for road teams to play, especially non-conference foes.
Moore played well in his return to the Bearcat lineup. Perhaps the truest of the point guards on UC's roster, containing within himself a pass first, score second mentality, Moore's return to the lineup should help solidify a Bearcat attack that has struggled with consistency and finding a true calming force on the court – something every good point guard should help with.
Moore's return to first-year head coach Andy Kennedy's rotation could serve Downey most of all. Moore, perhaps ironically, played alongside Downey in Deveroe's Summer League played in Cincinnati this summer, mentoring the youngster throughout the summer months.
Moore, who was thought by many Bearcat fans to have played his last game in the red and black last season due to injury, was suspended for five games after not clearing his participation in an NCAA sanctioned summer league that many of his Bearcat teammates participated in (including Downey and Muhammad). Ironically enough, the Deveroe's regained their certification by the NCAA to allow Division I college athletes to play this year.
In addition to Moore's return to the squad, the Bearcats' past two games have seen Muhammad come to life. Muhammad, who has been hampered by a groin injury during the early portion of the season, has struggled mightily to not only get his shot off, but to get it to fall when he managed to get it to leave his hands. While shot selection has been a problem for the second-year Bearcat during his tenuous tenure at UC, the very fact that Muhammad has seemed to get his killer instinct back should be a positive sign to the UC faithful.
With the mentorship and additional push that Moore and Muhammad will offer to Downey, and visa versa, the trio of Bearcat backcourt mates should help get the Bearcat basketball program back on track. Now, if only the Bearcats could do the same for the frontcourt…Well, there is always the Ohio game this Wednesday to get that worked out.