While White had possibly his best statistical game of his career, tying a career-high with 25 points (8-of-17), it had to be one of the most dubious performances of his illustrious career. While White could get his own buckets, he could do little to help create for his teammates. White dished out only one of the Bearcats' season-low four assists. While not White's fault, the ‘Cats were unable to get anything started on the offensive end.
Georgetown (14-4, 5-2), a team that has caught the recent eye of top-25 polls balloters and bracketologists, did its part to continue the Bearcats rapid fall from their early-season state of grace. Cincinnati (14-7, 3-4), who started the season 13-2, and was arguably one of the on-court stories in college basketball, saw their success and early-season hopes all but go out the window when senior Armein Kirkland went down with a season-ending knee injury against currently top-ranked UConn. The physical loss of Kirkland and the paper loss to the Huskies in the rankings has sent the ‘Cats reeling to as low as quickly-fading eight seed in ESPN's most recent NCAA Tournament prediction. After a 10-game winning streak, the Bearcats have proceeded to lose five of their last six game (starting with that UConn debacle).
Adding insult to injury, the loss of Kirkland came in the midst of arguably UC's most difficult stretch of the season. Aside from the win over Rutgers and a narrow crosstown loss against a struggling Xavier squad, Cincinnati has simply been outplayed and outworked against their other four opponents who are all currently in the top-25 (UConn, Syracuse, Louisville and Georgetown). During the current six game stretch from hell, the more black and blue than red and black ‘Cats have been run out of the building in at least one half in each of their losses – or, should I say un-able to run out of the building
The Bearcats, who struggled to get anything initiated on the offensive end, including struggling mightily from behind the arc (4-of-18), got into a "shoot to get out of it" stretch that saw them launch up threes with almost reckless abandon/desperation. Not able to draw much in terms of calls (11-of-14 from the free-throw line), UC appeared to get stagnate on the offensive end, and settled for jump shots as they have done all-too-frequently as of late.
Cincinnati, who needs to use speed and quickness to create offense, getting into the paint and getting lay-ups or charity-stripe opportunities, was bothered by the length and size of Georgetown. Though blocking only two shots on the contest, the likes of 7-2 Roy Hibbert and company did their part to challenge UC time and time again, and eliminate inside scoring chances or the possibility to collect on 11 second chances.
Hammered in terms of sheer size, the short Bearcat bench was simply outmanned when it came to trying to guard a deeper, taller Hoyas team. Not only did UC get beat physically and emotionally repeatedly on the offensive end, but also their lack of depth mixed with the patented Princeton-style offense that Georgetown runs can do a number on a team's legs…as well as their pride.
Constantly cutting, moving, pulling men in and out of the paint, always have as many as four men on the perimeter, Georgetown ran, back-cut, and lulled the Bearcats into almost defeating themselves. John Thompson III, son of legendary Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson Jr., is little more than a namesake of his father when it comes to the basketball pedigree, as the second-year head coach brings more of the characteristics of Pete Carill to the table then his father's. While revamping the legendary coach's style to fit a more athletic, skilled set of basketball player, Thompson's Carill/Princeton style frustrated the Bearcats all game long. When the ‘Cats were chasing players across the floor in their man-to-man set, Georgetown was knocking down jumpers over even the most crisp of zones. Connecting on nearly sixty-percent of their field goal attempts (30-of-52), including 10-of-17 from deep, Georgetown used excellent screening and passing (18 assists) to upset a usually hard-nosed, well-prepared defensive squad in Cincinnati.
Perhaps the most frustrating statistic for first-year head coach Andy Kennedy and his frustrated squad was when the were able to make stop or force a bad shot, the Hoyas were able to undermine the ‘Cats short-term success by grabbing offensive rebounds and resetting the clock and killing another 25 or so seconds of action. For the game UC allowed Georgetown to have 14 second chances, which seemed to take the wind out of UC's sails and their lungs. Mixed with the length and interior prowess of GU, the frustrating success of their opponents on the offensive end was likely the most blatant reason as to why UC seemed to settle for outside shots.
UC must be quick to rebound, literally and figuratively, from this recent stretch of sluggish team success when the South Florida Bulls come into town Tuesday. One of the Big East's bottom-dwellers, Cincinnati most take advantage of this opportunity if they wish to have any shot and pushing forth the third-longest active NCAA Tournament selection streak to 15 games. With only five home game remaining this season (nine overall), UC must win at least three of those opportunities to have a shot on Selection Sunday. Either way, UC will need to pick up some late-season road success against the likes of West Virginia, Pitt, Syracuse and Seton Hall (Cincy's best shot at a road victory) to continue their decade and a half long streak, and possibly Andy Kennedy's tenure as Bearcat head coach.