FAIRBORN -Vance Hall said it a couple of times in Wright State’s short post-game press conference.
“Their athleticism really bothered us,” the Raiders sophomore guard said.
That’s one thing that really stood out Wednesday night as the Cincinnati Bearcats - even missing four suspended players - flattened Wright State, 78-58, in an ESPN2 televised game at the Nutter Center.
UC was without 6-foot-9 star forward Yancy Gates, 6-10 back-up center Cheikh Mdodj, 6-9 freshman Octavius Ellis and 6-1 freshman Ge’Lawn Guyn - all suspended for their part in an ugly brawl with Xavier in Saturday’s Crosstown Shootout that garnered negative publicity for the city of Cincinnati, as well as both of the schools and their hoops programs.
Although UC was especially depleted of big men against the Raiders - Gates leads the team in rebounding and is second in scoring - the Bearcats started four guards and still controlled the boards, swatted five Raiders shots and altered nearly a dozen more. At the same, they were deadly with their own three-point shooting, making 14 of 32.
And remember, this is the same UC team that got smoked by Xavier, 76-53.
Wednesday night’s outcome says something about the struggling 4-7 Raiders, but it says more about the Bearcats, who were playing their first game since the throwdown with the Musketeers.
.”You could see a quiet confidence with them,” WSU coach Billy Donlon said. “In adverse conditions you find out the soul of somebody. And from an outsider’s perspective, they’ve got a pretty admirable and passionate soul They came here with a purpose and that purpose was fulfilled, no question.”
Cincinnati guard Cashmere Wright - who UC coach Mick Cronin said took control of the team in the immediate aftermath of the brawl - spoke for all his teammates Wednesday night when he said:
“Everybody was waiting for us to explode and have a mental breakdown. We showed everybody we’re regular human beings. People make mistakes. We just came ready to play.”
And play the Bearcats did. It was like men against boys. WSU was out of this one from the strart
Five UC players ended up in double figures. Sean Kilpatrick - who hit six of 12 three-point attempts - finished with a game-high 20 points. Before the game with X, he went on the radio in Cincinnati and said he was better than the Musketeers’ Tu Holloway. I don’t think that is the case, but he’s pretty good and the Raiders sure had no answer for him.
Wright State was the perfect first opponent for UC to meet after four days of upheaval.
The Nutter Center was close to home. There were several UC fans in the crowd of 5,977 - I thought there’d be more people here — and the WSU fans who did show were mostly polite and soft-mannered same as the Raiders team.
That may not be good for WSU hoops fortunes, but it was the perfect reception for UC.
“I want to say thank you to the people here,” UC coach Mick Cronin said. “I didn’t see any residual baiting or heckling or anything like that. I have a lot of respect for Billy Donlon and their athletics director, Bob Grant.
“If we were coming in someplace else, yeah I’d have been worried. But Wright State isn’t going to let people stand in the front row and hour before the game and heckle our guys and say crazy stuff. Some places do and we were prepared for it, but we didn’t have to worry here.”
Of course, it’s hard to get vocal when your team is already down 17-2 just 4 ½ minutes into the game, is trailing by 21 at the half and by as many as 26 with just 93 seconds left.
“Wright State just got hit by a blitz tonight,” Cronin said. “We said this is going to be a watershed moment for us. We’ve got to come together. To be honest, we weren’t playing well regardless of what happened the other day. We struggled to come together with our upperclassmen and our freshmen and get on the same page all year. We really needed to come together. Unfortunately it took a bad incident for that to happen.
“We know what we’re all about and we were going to make sure that we showed everybody what we’re all about tonight.”
Wright State saw it first handTweet