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Brendel's Bytes: Pitt

The #13 Cincinnati Bearcats outscored the #24 Pitt Panthers 44-27 in the 2nd half to erase a 34-26 deficit after the first 20 minutes and claim a tough road victory to open Big East play.

Let's get right to my key stats and moments from the win that moved the Cincinnati record to 13-1 on the season.

Stat Of The Day

It was once again a struggle in the 1st half as Mick Cronin's squad shot 29.6% from the floor, 11.1% from three and 56.3% from the free throw line. It was a totally different story over the final 20 minutes as they converted around the rim at a much higher clip to finish the half 13-24 from the field and an important 16-19 for 84% from the charity stripe on a day when the three ball just wasn't falling.

Foul trouble impacted stars Cashmere Wright and Sean Kilpatrick as they both picked up two in the 1st half, but had only one combined after halftime. It allowed both to be much more aggressive, with each scoring 12 2nd half points a piece and connecting on a combined 10-12 from the FT line.

Also to be noted in the 2nd half push is UC dominated the glass, outrebounding Pitt 20-11 and keeping the Panthers off the offensive glass where they have done a lot of damage on the season.

Rubles and Nyarsuk Provide Spark

While Wright and Kilpatrick carried the bulk of the scoring load during the run that took UC from down 8 to up 7 before the parade to the free throw line to cap it off, a lot of credit also goes to key reserves Titus Rubles and David Nyarsuk for the spark they provided in that span.

The two combined for 0 points and 1 rebound in the 1st half, and Rubles only managed to play 2 minutes before picking up 2 fouls and spending the rest of the half on the bench. There were no such struggles out of the locker room as both made instrumental contributions in key moments late.

Rubles and-1 with 10:13 remaining gave Cincinnati its first lead of the game, and his assist for a Nyarsuk dunk with 1:41 remaining pushed the lead to 7 and put all of the pressure on Pitt with time winding down.

Nyarsuk was a perfect 3-3 from the floor filling in for the foul prone Cheikh Mbodj and had 3 offensive boards that kept things alive for the offense and reduced any chance Pitt had at making quick runs at the lead as Cincinnati took control.

The bench production has been one of many factors in the overall struggle on the offensive end through large chunks of the last five games, but the 11 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists produced by Nyarsuk and Rubles in the 2nd half were critical in the win.

Head Of The Snake

With Pitt essentially employing a two point guard attack in Tray Woodall and James Robinson it is easy to see why they were the most efficient team in the nation on the offensive end entering the game. Keeping them in check was going to be a key factor in Cincinnati winning this game, and while they still had some success it was not at the level the duo had seen entering the game.

They combined for just over 10 assists a contest combined, and the relentless pressure of the Bearcats D held that number to only 5, and while they only turned it over once it was never easy for them to get into their half court sets where looks get easier with their feel for the game.

They also struggled to score with Woodall going 3-9 from the floor and 0-3 from the perimeter for 9 points while Robinson was 2-6 and didn't attempt a three on the way to finishing with 6. Keeping those two in check made life difficult for everyone else on the Pitt roster.

  • Chad, What is it with Rubles that he is a better second half player ? What are your thoughts of him starting and going more " Wildcat " with Jackson moving to the 5 spot at times to speed thing up ? Happy New Year to everyone as well. horn

  • Good stuff.

    I was really impressed with the D for the most part. Pitt set good screens and ran solid cuts along with their big guys posting hard. Our guys really had to be disciplined and tough to hold them down. The press really slowed Pitt down and forced them to start their offense late in the shot clock. I was also impressed with Cash's pressure on the ball, it did not cause many turnovers like Chad wrote but it really frustrated their offense.

  • Why are we told to not judge Islam by the actions of a few extremists, but judge all gun owners by the actions of a few killers?

  • I think Titus would have had a big 1st half yesterday if he didn't get 2 fouls in 5 seconds and only play 2 minutes in the half. Zanna is a good player, but he had no chance to stay in front of Titus going to the rim. I don't see him moving to a starting spot at this point because he is the only guy that has shown he can give a scoring spark off the bench at this point. Maybe if Shaq continues to develop on the offensive end that could become an option...

    Co-Owner and Senior Basketball Writer Follow me on Twitter @chbrendel

  • Throwing out a few more observations and comments on the offense:

    I was happy to see Mick use a little more standard motion through out the game.

    Also happy to see him mix in the idea of getting the ball to the high post against the man to man. He did this with Parker a couple of times and I hope they do it with Titus more. I think Titus could be deadly if he is able to start with the ball in his hands around the free throw line.

    While JJ's struggles with this new offense is well documented the one thing he does that no one else on this team does is consistently look to pass to our post players. If my memory serves me correct he made 2 decent passes to our post guy rolling to the hoop after he set a screen. Although neither one finished. While you cannot just ask our post players to go down the floor, post up and then throw the ball to them; there are opportunities to get them the ball in scoring positions when we actually have movement on offense. The other guys need to look at the post a little more to make teams respect it.

    I still believe that SK needs to be utilized better. I believe he is at his best when he is allowed to move without the ball and run off screens. He is a very smart player and crafty when we gets the ball with a step on his man, plus he is very good atpopping the mid range shot. For the most part right now he is being limited to weaving around on the 3 pt line and having to take his man 1 on 1.

    I feel Mick should start the game with set motion offense for the first handful of half court possessions. When we come out with the 4 out 1 in dribble drive to start the games and nobody gets into a flow of the offense. Starting with a some prescribed motion and plays may help guys get into the flow of the game earlier and build that offensive confidence.

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