Despite Win Over the Pittsburgh Panthers, Cincinnati Bearcats Still Show Vulnerability

By Michael Roberts
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bearcats bounced back from their first loss of the season with a 70-61 win over the Pittsburgh Panthers to tip-off Big East conference action.

Cincinnati was once again led by their impressive backcourt of Sean Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright.

After trailing 34-26 at halftime with the guards combining for only 10 points, the Bearcats duo used a 16-4 run in the second half to take control. Kilpatrick finished with 16 points and four rebounds, while Wright tallied 18 points and two assists.

The biggest momentum shift in the game came midway through the second half when Pittsburgh’s freshman center Steven Adams picked up his fourth foul. After only recording one foul in the first half, Adams’ three quick second half fouls put Pittsburgh’s intimidating shot blocker on the bench.  Moments later, after Cincinnati converted free throws and the Panthers failed to execute on their offensive possession, Wright dribbled down the court and nailed a three-pointer for the Bearcats.

The sequence gave Cincinnati complete momentum and ultimately became too much for Pittsburgh to overcome.

The backcourt has fueled the Bearcats to their 13-1 record however, their first half performance once again showed where the team will be vulnerable against future opponents.

The lack of a post threat on either end of the court is what cost the Bearcats their first loss of the season. For the first half against the Panthers it looked like it was going to cost them again. Adams had eight rebounds in the half while Pittsburgh forward Talib Zanna finished with 16 points and five rebounds in the game. Cincinnati lacked any real interior presence as 6-foot-9, 230lbs Zanna was able to go 6 for 9 from the field.

With the team playing the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Jan. 7, Cincinnati’s interior players will be put to the test early in conference action.  Bearcats center Chiekh Mbodj fouled out trying to contain Pittsburgh’s post players, none of whom are playing at the level Jack Cooley is performing at.

Cooley is the conference’s top rebounder with 11.3 per game while having its second best field goal percentage at 64%. Meanwhile, Cincinnati’s top rebounder heading into the Pittsburgh game was Kilpatrick with six rebounds per game while Wright held the team’s best average from the floor with 46.3%.

The guards have carried Cincinnati through the 2012 portion of the schedule, but the Bearcats have shown they’ll be vulnerable against bigger opponents in 2013.

Michael covers ACC and Big East basketball along with the Toronto Raptors for Rant Sports, you can follow him on Twitter @MichaelxRoberts

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