It wasn’t like the Cincinnati Bearcats (20-9, 8-8 Big East) were on the NCAA Tournament bubble or anything, but their three game losing streak had to be mind-numbing. Luckily for the Bearcats, a Shabazz Naiper-less Connecticut Huskies traveled to Cincinnati and the losing streak came to an end.
The offensively challenged Bearcats should thank their lucky stars that Napier was a no-go. Even without his 17 points per game, UConn didn’t make it easy for Cincy to beat them. It took Sean Kilpatrick scoring 20 points and making a pair of late free throws to put away the Huskies.
Head coach Mick Cronin also had to deal with kick-starting the Bearcats’ offense. Over the three game skid, Cincy only topped 60 once and managed to go under 50 in another. To deal with the growing problem of putting the ball in the basket, Cronin went old-school, relying mostly on his team creating turnovers to make easy baskets.
In fact, the turnovers helped seal the deal more than Kilpatrick’s late free throws. Only being down a point with under 20 seconds to ago, UConn ended up turning the ball over twice, essentially handing the Bearcats their 20th win on the season.
Cincinatti still has two games left in the regular season before they start their journey for postseason glory. It’ll be interesting to see if the Bearcats are actually back on track as the team we thought they were before the losing streak. However, if the win was just a win and nothing more, Cincy needs to do a lot of work if they want to be major players in the postseason.
Barely beating a team without their best player isn’t really convincing anyone about anything.
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow Joe on Twitter @JosephNardone