Just when things looked there bleakest, the University of Cincinnati Men's Basketball team proved once again, never count them out. In this season of up's and down's since before school started, Andy Kennedy has seen his team reach several highs while also finding a few pot-holes along their bumpy first season in the Big East.
Ask any Bearcat fans if their team had a chance after watching them be destroyed in Pittsburgh on Sunday, and you would learn most felt all was lost. But with strong performances from Cedric McGowan, Jihad Muhammad, James White and freshman Devan Downey, the Bearcats learned to squeeze a little juice out of the Syracuse Orangemen's tournament bubble.
McGowan led the way with some timely outside shooting and scored 19 points to breakout of an early career slump. Muhammad once again showed he can stroke it with the best when things are going well. The senior would also post 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting. Senior James White added a few exclamation points with some exciting dunks and would post 18 points. But while all three played key roles in this big victory, it was the performance of true freshman Devan Downey that gave the Bearcats that little extra ingredient they've been missing. Downey would score 16 points, but he also dished out 7 assists and played like a midseason veteran instead of a "deer in the headlights" freshman.
Warrior Eric Hicks was held in check on the scoring front but proved his game is more then just posting and scoring by pulling down 11 rebounds and getting back into his shot-blocking groove with five.
Bearcats Head Coach Andy Kennedy had nothing but praise for his team during his postgame radio show on WLW. "It was a tremendous performance. I thought we came out with that look in our eye and I knew that we would have a chance if we could make some shots."
Making shoots has been hard in recent games, but tonight the Bearcats shot for 51.5% from the field and also hit 42.9% of their three point attempts.
But scoring was not the only area Kennedy saw his team outshine Syracuse on this night. The Bearcats pulled down 44 boards and blocked a total of 6 shots on the night. Syracuse could only grab 25 boards and blocked 5 shots on their home court.
With the Bearcats performance, over 21,000 Cuse fans were left speechless as time ran out.
The Bearcats are now 17-9 with a 6-6 mark in conference play. The win may become one of the factors if the Bearcats are to have any chance of playing beyond the Big East Tournament in a few weeks. Syracuse is now 17-8 with a 5-6 conference mark and many talking about the downward skid they've taken in recent weeks. The victory also moved the Bearcats up in the Big East rankings passing Syracuse to go into the 8th spot.
Coach Kennedy will see his team face another task at home on Friday night as Providence heads into Fifth Third Arena for an 8:00 p.m. contest.
Talk radio, internet message boards and fans should enjoy this victory and prepare to cheer this team on to another victory and a step closer to the Big East Tournament and an NCAA berth.