Cincinnati Bearcats' Offensive Struggles Will Be Team's Downfall in NCAA Tournament

By Michael Roberts
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With the exception of a seven-minute span, the Georgetown Hoyas were in total control as they advanced in the Big East Tournament with a dominating 62-43 blowout over the Cincinnati Bearcats.

The Bearcats managed to keep things close at the end of the first half thanks to a flurry of three-pointers that closed a double-digit gap. Unfortunately, after the three-pointers stopped falling, Cincinnati stopped scoring and Georgetown quickly pulled away in the second half.

The Bearcats’ leading scorer, Sean Kilpatrick, struggled once again as he played poorly in three of the four halves Cincinnati was a part of in the tournament. With the exception of the second half against the Providence Friars where he put up 12 points, the 6-foot-4 guard was never able to find his comfort zone in Madison Square Garden.

Kilpatrick is a streaky scorer who spent the majority of the season starting games off ice cold only to find his groove and become white hot to finish. He’s the type of player who will miss his first eight shots, then drain the following 10 in a five minute span. When he’s on, he’s one of the best scorers in the nation. When he’s off, it’s an ugly sight for Bearcat fans.

Due to that ability to catch fire in a matter of moments, Cincinnati needs Kilpatrick to keep shooting because of their limited offensive weapons around him. Unfortunately, if he never finds his shooting stroke, than you get performances like 2 for 12 from the floor, including 0 for 8 from three-point range, against Georgetown–where he finished with only four points.

No team as offensively-challenged as the Bearcats are will have tournament success if their leading-scorer struggles as much as Kilpatrick did against the Hoyas. This type of outing raises major doubts over Cincinnati’s chances of any type of NCAA Tournament run.

The Bearcats are a quality defensive team, which is why they’ve been able to hang around in several contests waiting for their leading scorer to go off and take over the game. With their scrappy defensive roster, they might be able to steal a game or two in the NCAA Tournament, but if Kilpatrick continues to put up donuts from downtown, then they stand zero chance of advancing past the first weekend of action.

JaQuon Parker and Cashmere Wright might be able to put up points at times, but they are nowhere near as offensively gifted as Kilpatrick. It’s a major reason why the opposition’s defense is able to load up on him and force him to settle for perimeter shots. The Bearcats just don’t have that solid secondary option who can take pressure off of him to produce. Wright and Parker can certainly hit a couple buckets in a row, but after they cool off, they are usually finished producing for the game.

This type of inconsistent offense is what will no doubt plague Cincinnati once March Madness tips off. As good as they are defensively, their inability to find that scoring touch at key times will be their downfall.

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


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