The Morning After: UC 92, Utah Valley 72

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The tone of Mick Cronin's postgame press conference Saturday night wasn't as optimistic as you'd expect.


The concern stemmed directly from a substandard defensive effort. Actually, substandard would probably be an understatement in Cronin's estimation.


"This is probably our worst defensive game of the year," Cronin said.


By the numbers, he's right.


The 72 points were a season high. The previous high was 69 against Wright State.


For the second time in three games the Bearcats allowed at least 47 percent shooting from the field. Wright State hit 50 percent of its shots while Utah Valley hit 47 percent.


It's odd to see those types of numbers against the Bearcats who are still ranked in the top 10 in the country in points allowed per possession (0.82). Part of the defensive letdown Saturday had to do with the quick 17-2 lead taking the fire out of some of the play.


"Some people just relaxed," Cashmere Wright said. "You had some people playing hard all the time and some people relaxed on their job."


Whatever it was, it caught the attention of Cronin.


"I've got some concerns about our rebounding and halfcourt defense," he said. "Those are some areas we need to get better."


--- Speaking of rebounding, Yancy Gates only managed three rebounds in his 22 minutes. It was far from ideal for Gates, who has made it clear his desire to reach double-digit rebounds every game.

Outside of Ibrahima Thomas, who picked up a double-double with 11 points, 12 rebounds, Gates was one of many to fail in that department.


"I wasn't happy with the defensive rebounding by Yancy or anybody," Cronin said. "I was upset at halftime, I thought once we got a 15-point lead we stopped focusing on the things we need to be worried about, defense, rebounding and loose balls."


--- The Bearcats did manage 16 offensive rebounds on 35 missed shots for a 45 percent offensive rebounding efficiency. (For all my KenPom fans, enjoy the number nerdism here)


UC ranks in the top 25 in the country in the offensive rebound percentage statistic. They have been grabbing 38 percent of their missed field goals to this point in the season.


Unfortunately, they don't rate so well in some other KenPom specialties. Here's the link to his offensive advanced calculus.


--- Seven different players hit at least one 3-pointer and all five starters were in double figures.


Those early-season concerns about this team's ability to shoot from the outside and score enough to win has since quieted.


UC averaged 83 points a game over the last three contests.


They are shooting 37 percent from 3-point range on the season, which is good for 69th in the country. That might not sound all that encouraging, but considering UC hit 28 percent on the season last year and was among the worst in college basketball, it should be a major point of pride.


--- The Bearcats are 8-0 for the first time under Mick Cronin. Though, they still all the way back at 85th in the RPI with a weak strength of schedule.


Their SOS is 324 out of 345 Division I teams.


However, it should be noted their projected SOS rank by the time the season ends is 65th.


Rashad Bishop reiterated again after the game how anxious this team is to jump into Big East play and finally receive a legitimate challenge.


"We do want to get into Big East play and show people that we can compete," he said.


UC is one of four teams in the conference still undefeated. Syracuse, UConn and Louisville are the other three.


"The misnomer about our team is that we were far off," Cronin said. "We had West Virginia, who was in the Final 4, down 13 in their gym shooting two. Then 12 consecutive whistles go against you after that. You lose to them on a bank shot, 40-foot fallaway bank shot. So how far off were we? Not far off. We just needed to grow up a little bit and play a lot smarter."


--- Yancy Gates shot a high number of outside jumpers against Utah Valley. In total, finished 5 of 13 from the floor for 14 points. That includes the second 3-pointer of his career.


Cashmere Wright had an interesting take of Gates' outside shooting.


"We let Yancy go out there and do his thing," he said. "Like we tell him, we are going to be behind you whatever you do, so if you want to take jump shots, take jump shots. He know when the big game come he can't be doing that, but Yancy is going to be Yancy."


--- Quote of the night: Cashmere Wright on if coach Mick Cronin said anything to him after his missed dunk against Utah Valley:  


"He laughed at me. I think that was more hurtful than him saying something."

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