Finally one of these close games goes the way of the good guys! UC beat UConn in Connecticut 58-57, something the Bearcats haven’t been able to do in their last four trips to the XL Center.
Gary Clark and Farad Cobb tied for a team high 13 points. Clark came up huge going 5 for 9 from the field with what would be the final winning bucket, complete with a swished free throw to secure the 1-point road win. He added 6 boards, 4 blocks, 3 assists, and even a 3-pointer. Clark is now 7 of 12 (60%) from beyond the arch on the year. This prized sophomore is turning into a monster at every facet of the game.
Troy Caupain had an off night and Shaq Thomas went down with what appeared to be a painful high ankle sprain. Nevertheless, the Cats grinded out a win at UConn with classic Cronin defense forcing 14 turnovers despite shooting just 38% for the game.
This was a very fun game to watch, but in the back of our minds during crunch-time we have to admit it was not fun to think about how the games earlier this season turned against Butler, Iowa State, SMU, and Temple. Thankfully, this one turned out differently and is another quality W for the Mach Madness resume. UC and UConn both led for 17 minutes. The Huskies were held scoreless during the last 1 minute and 44 seconds, even having 3 chances to sink the winning bucket at the end after Clark’s gem.
Maybe we finally figured out how to win games in the clutch this season? Caupain was given the ball for a designed final play when we were down by 2. The play did not work. We can never forget Caupain’s drive and layup against Purdue last March, but this similar go-to play simply has not worked this season. Going to your sure-handed, 6’ 4”, 205 pound point guard for the final play makes sense logically. But maybe the well has run dry? With Clark easily using his size to make the game winning shot, will Cronin turn to this option in future close games?
Next up – South Florida at home Thursday, February 4th at 8 pm. The 5 – 17 Bulls should not present any problems, although UC escaped with just a 3-point win earlier in January on the road. The Cats get seven days to rest and recoup.
By Andy Smith