The No. 11 Cincinnati Bearcats came into the unfriendly confines of Charleston Civic Center with a target on their backs. After a sloppy start by both teams, the Bearcats escaped with a 72-56 win.
Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin said pre-game that they were going to come out early and pressure the Herd, presumably because they would be a little shaky without their star guard DeAndre Kane. Mick was right.
The Bearcats forced 13 turnovers in the first 13 minutes, but could not convert offensively and put the Thundering Herd away. Cincinnati coaches and fans were concerned about rebounding before this game as Marshall has a lot of height, but Cincy went into the half with a 29-25 lead while outrebounding them 25-12.
The Herd started out the second half strong and stayed within three points for the first five minutes. The Bearcats may have come out a little too excited with six personal fouls in the first three minutes. Cheikh Mbodj and David Nyarsuk both had three fouls early on in the second half. Mick kept the big men and in surprising fashion the reserves stole the show with four bench players getting 2 offensive rebounds each for a total of 20.
Not surprisingly, when Cashmere Wright and Sean Kilpatrick started making their shots, it was all Bearcats the rest of the way. At one point Cashmere Wright made 3 threes in a minute and forty second span in which Marshall responded with a few baskets and an enormous dunk over Nyarsuk from local product Elijah Pittman.
Cincinnati finished the game forcing 20 turnovers and out-rebounding the Herd 35-28. Cashmere Wright and Sean Kilpatrick lead the team with 14 and 13 points respectively, but they got help from a strong first half and 10 points from Justin Jackson. Redshirt Freshman Shaquille Thomas had his second impressive game in a row with 8 points and two huge offensive rebounds.
It wasn’t pretty, but the Bearcats did what Mick Cronin coached teams have done over the past few years, play hard defense all game and wait for the shots to fall. The Bearcats go 10-0 and President Ono announced he will be shaving his head on the contest vs. Notre Dame on January 7th. Up next for your undefeated Bearcats is the Crosstown Classic on Wednesday.