The Cincinnati Bearcats move to 11-0 on the season after traveling up the road to Oxford and withstanding an early surge by Miami that saw them in a 27-20 hole. From there UC outscored the Redhawks 44-21 to coast to a 64-48 road victory in Millett Hall.
Bearcats Maximize Possessions
Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin knew nothing would be easy about leaving Miami's home court with a victory in the Cats first Millett Hall appearance since the 1992-1993 season, and that was obvious early as Miami controlled the action for the first 10 plus minutes and had a 7 point lead with 6:22 remaining in the 1st half. Cronin's team kept its cool and responded in a big way from there, and the coach got exactly what he wanted out of the contest.
“If I could have drawn it up, I would have drawn it up the way we won,” Cronin said. “To get down and then to come back and win, just to be in that experience and win. The thing I was most proud of is the guys never panicked. As we came to the time out huddles there was no arguments, there was just talk between players about we've got to defend better, we've got to rebound better and get to more loose balls.”
The team took their own advice and went to halftime with a 35-28 lead and continued to build on the momentum in the 2nd half. The key stats for Cronin were turning the ball over only 7 times, and pulling down 16 offensive rebounds on 33 missed shots.
“Our offensive rebounding was a big difference and we continue to do a good job taking care of the basketball,” said Cronin. “That can negate a bad shooting night because you get so many more shots than your opponent when you take care of the ball the way we do. We were plus 7 in turnovers and plus 11 on the offensive glass. That's 18 possessions and 18 extra shots. You're going to win the game when you do that.”
Dixon Takes Charge
The biggest bright spot for Cincinnati was the performance of junior guard Dion Dixon who poured in 23 points and pulled down 7 rebounds on the night. Once he got into the flow of the game Dixon wanted the ball and Cronin was looking to get him involved as often as possible.
“We did ride him. It was a good match up for us,” Cronin said. “I called a lot of things to get him off screens and he did a great job of attacking the paint. He's a guy that plays 2 guard, scores 23 points but only made one 3 point shot. He was our answer. Dion did a great job curling in to the lane.”
Pressure The Key On Defense
Cincinnati has finally been able to apply the type of full court defense Cronin likes to use, and it was big against a young Miami backcourt that doesn't much depth behind starters Quinten Rollins and Orlando Williams. Dixon knew the team just had to stick to the game plan.
“The scouting report was that they had young guards and we needed to get after them,” Dixon said. “As the game goes on it would wear down on them and that's what happened.”
Technical Sparked Run
For the second year in a row Cronin picked up a technical foul against Miami, and senior forward Ibrahima Thomas joked that the coach was starting a trend in the rivalry game.
“It really got us fired up,” Thomas said. “If you remember he got a technical against Miami last year at US Bank. I think it's kind of like a ritual every year.”