After a heartbreaker in Nebraska, UC turned it around and put up 71 points on arguably the best defense in the country. The growing pains of this young Bearcats team paid off tonight. SDSU was rewarded with a terrible foul call in the waning seconds of regulation to put the game in OT. Rather than throwing in the towel, the Cats rallied in overtime accumulating a 14-to-5 advantage, and took the W at home in front of the largest crowd this season (9,000+).
The Cats shot the ball at 47% from the floor (59% in second half!), and very importantly they made 17-21 free throws. That’s 81% of their freebees! When interviewed after the game point guard Troy Caupain simply said that the difference between tonight and Nebraska is that “the ball went in the hoop.” And he was right! The team also strictly practiced high stress and late game situations all week to prepare for Steve Fisher’s Aztec attack. The Cats did not made any mental mistakes, or errors tonight.
Octavius Ellis never hit an offensive stride, but he did fill up the stat sheet with 8 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, and 4 blocks.
Farad Cobb scored 12 points, including 2 clutch three pointers. Troy Caupain also added 12 points, including going 6-for-9 from the free throw line, adding 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. Gary Clark contributed 10 points, including both of his attempted free throws.
One player I am very intrigued by is JUCO Coreontae DeBerry. He played 13 minutes, and hit 3-4 shots in the paint. Even against the great Aztec D, DeBerry was able to have his way down low. This is something the Cats haven’t had in a VERY long time.
UC outrebounded San Diego St., 35-33, forced 18 turnovers, and held SDSU to 39% from the field (just 5-25 beyond the arch). UC also racked-up 25 bench points. The Cats did have 15 turnovers, but overall this was an excellent showcase on offense and defense by Mick Cronin’s Bearcats!
This was only San Diego St.’s second lost in their last 20 games. UC is tough to beat at home. They are indeed 24-1 since the start of last year with the only loss to Louisville 58-57 last year as time expired thanks to Russ Smith.
Next up is Shaka Smart’s VCU squad at home Saturday at noon on ESPNU. Let’s hope the Cats can keep their legs under them after playing three OT sessions already this week!
Here are some of our action shots from the baseline:
By Andy Smith