The faint of heart may have wanted to stay in church a little longer on Sunday instead of heading home and tuning into the Bearcats as they battled the Panthers. But faithful fans don't miss a chance to watch their team battle a highly ranked conference foe. But early on hearing the Sunday sermon a little more may have been less painful.
The University of Cincinnati entered into the Big East Conference with a solid basketball program and a winning tradition in Conference USA. But after hitting the midway point in their first season in the Big East, the Bearcats and their fans have learned what the term "Big Time" basketball really means.
Sunday's performance was a surgical incision into the heart of the Bearcats and their head coach disappointed and in search of a magical cure as his team hopes to enter into postseason play in the coming weeks. But with future performances like Sunday's, any hope of long-term post season play will be short lived.
The Pitt Panthers entered Sunday's contest with a 7-3 conference and 18-3 overall record. Their performance proved they will be a team to be reckoned with in New York when Big East Tournament play opens and during the early rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
The Bearcats saw a 21 point performance by senior Jihad Muhammad go by the way side as Karl Krauser 18, Keith Benjamin 16 and Ronald Ramon who would finish with 14 points defeated the Bearcats 89-69 in the first meeting between the new rivals.
The Bearcats (16-9, 5-6) looked sluggish and out of sync from the start. The performance raised questions and didn't sit well with head coach Andy Kennedy. During his post-game radio show he wasted little time in speaking about his teams play. "I am disappointed with our overall effort. When you play the whole game with your head down, you're going to get what you get."
With almost no production from his core group of players, Coach Kennedy looked towards his bench and found career highs (6 pts.) from football player turned basketball player Connor Barwin and record minutes (4) from Branden Miller.
Senior leader Eric Hicks scored 15 points by saw lows of four rebounds and one block shot. The road doesn't get any easier for Coach Kennedy and his Bearcats. The team will travel to Syracuse for a Wednesday battle against the Orange and then return for a Friday battle at home against another top team Providence. Villanova, Seaton Hall and West Virginia also remain on the schedule before the final parings will be made for the teams who've earned their way to New York and the Big East Tournament.