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.
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