Monday night's victory for the Bearcats over South Carolina Upstate to run its record to 4-2 was important on a couple of fronts. Cincinnati has now ended its six game home stand, and the Bearcat schedule gets significantly tougher from here on out.
The Bearcats' fourth victory of the season didn't look a whole lot different from the other three. Cincinnati was much taller and more athletic than its opponent, but the Bearcats struggled in the first half to take control of the game.
South Carolina Upstate is in its first season of Division I basketball and had no starter taller than 6' 5". The school previously known as USC Spartanburg was 0-5 this season with nine new players, but the Spartans trailed the Bearcats by only five points at the half.
The Bearcats scored five quick points to start the second half and upped their lead to ten points with over nineteen minutes left in the game, and that lead hovered between seven and thirteen points for over seven minutes until UC had another scoring flurry. Deonta Vaughn, who led the Bearcats in scoring with 19 points, hit a trey, and freshman Larry Davis followed it with a nifty layup. Darnell Wilks, yet another freshman, pushed the lead to seventeen points with a dunk, and UC had its biggest lead of the night at 55-38. A Marvin Gentry three pointer after a timeout pushed the lead to its largest at 58-38 with 11:28 left in the game.
USC Upstate continually tried to cut into the big lead but could never get it closer than an eleven point difference. The final score was 69-57.
Helping Vaughn on the offensive end was Adam Hrycaniuk with a double/double of 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Larry Davis chipped in with 15 points with an excellent second half.
Despite the win, Coach Cronin was not pleased. "I wasn't happy at all with our effort tonight. I thought it was probably the worst game that we've played. I was unhappy in many, many areas. The bright spot was Larry Davis, and Darnell Wilks continues to improve." Davis, Wilks and Rashad Bishop, all freshmen, each had at least twenty minutes of playing time.
Even though Vaughn seemed to have a good game statistically, Coach Cronin saw things differently. "I think the stat sheet lies. He's a talented guy. I think his defense was terrible. I thought his leadership was bad. He's a great kid, and he's had way better nights."
Adam Hrycaniuk earned some praise from his head coach for his work on the boards in the first half. "I thought Adam played hard. He had eight rebounds in the first half."
Coach Cronin identified some of the problems with the 2007-2008 Bearcats. "Young teams don't play hard enough. They don't know what it takes." He also talked about his disappointment with the returning seniors. "I'm not happy with my veterans and their leadership or lack thereof."
Alvin Mitchell did not play in the game, and when asked about Mitchell's absence from the line-up, he replied. "Coach's decision."
Five of the next six games will be on the road, and every game will be a test for the inexperienced Bearcats. December begins with three straight road games at UAB, Illinois State and Xavier before UC returns home to play one of the best teams in the country in the Memphis Tigers. Then the Bearcats travel to Raleigh, North Carolina to play North Carolina State before ending the month against a very good Miami of Ohio team at U.S. Bank Arena on December 29th.
Bearcats Beat South Carolina Upstate
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