Dion Dixon took his turn as the offensive spark and did it with ferocity during the Bearcats 64-48 victory against Miami.
Special to GoBearcats.com
OXFORD, Ohio -- When Dion Dixon was knocked over while draining a 3-pointer, he let out a powerful scream. When he drove hard to the basket, drew contact and sank an aggressive layup, he yelled even louder.
The distinctive voice inflections let Miami know he would do anything to keep his Bearcats in the game.
Behind his career-high 23 points, Dixon pumped life into the Bearcats in a physical game with Miami. While the RedHawks harassed Yancy Gates down low and pressured other Bearcats shooters into missed shots in the first half, Dixon kept the team's heart beating.
Down by a rare seven points midway through the first period, Cincinnati needed to change. First, the referees called Mick Cronin for a technical, which usually serves as an alarm clock for a dozing team. From there, the Bearcats shook the sleep out of their eyes.
"We came out a little sluggish," Dixon said. "We just picked up the intensity, especially defensively. Offense is always going to be there."
The change was felt as he lofted up a 3-pointer while being tossed to the ground by Allen Roberts. Even with a RedHawk flying at him, Dixon threw up a perfect shot that sunk through the net. Although he missed the free throw, the pendulum had swung.
From there, Dixon continued to pour on points. Cashmere Wright came to his side, while Ibrahima Thomas found life in the post as Gates struggled.
And those RedHawks 3s that sank with ease in the middle of the first half? They weren't coming so easy. Dixon, Wright and Rashad Bishop buckled down and didn't allow another 3-pointer until deep in the second half.
"The scouting report was that they were young and they'd wear out if we went after them," Dixon said. "That's exactly what happened."
Miami held a 27-20 lead at one point in the first half. When the buzzer sounded to end the first 20 minutes, they were down 35-28. When it was all done, Cincinnati headed to the Millett locker rooms with a dominating 64-48 performance.
The defense as a whole stepped up, but Dixon was still there when the Bearcats needed support offensively. It could be seen when Wright mishandled a ball and Dixon picked it up and made an acrobatic layup. Or when he fought hard for an offensive rebound and put it back in.
And when he needed to do it himself, he did, as he showed with a lightening fast spin move passed a Miami defender before he gracefully finger-rolled two more points.
Despite his 23-point performance, Cronin downplayed the notion that the guard is the Bearcats' main scorer, even if they hopped on his back against the RedHawks.
"One thing I can count on, when somebody gets 20 on this team, the media wants to anoint the guy," Cronin said. "Now it's Dixon.
"We did ride him. It was a good matchup for us and I called a lot of things to get him open."
At one point, he even called for Dixon to take over at point guard. That type of confidence shows the constant progress he's shown since the start of the year. But not since the Dayton game had the shooting guard looked so comfortable and confident finding his shot.
It was evident in how he drove and how he reacted to a score, which usually came in the form of a roar.
"I have that confidence now," Dixon said about scoring almost at will. "Hopefully now I can just do it."