Record chase ends, new season begins

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They couldn't become the first UC team to score 100 points in three consecutive games, but beginning Thursday, the Bearcats take on a much more daunting task.

Chris Gundrum

Special to

CINCINNATI - The Bearcats came five points shy of making history Friday night.

Had they scored 100 points instead of 95, they would have been the first team in school history to hit the century mark in three consecutive games.

"Their offensive rebounds kept us on the defensive end too long and we weren't able to get enough field goal attempts to get to 100 for the third straight game," Mick Cronin said. "That would have been fun for the guys to be in the record books and really for all the people that come out to support us through this stretch of games."

Not only did Cronin want to make history, but his players did too.

"Once we looked up, there were like 10 points left (to get to 100)," said Sean Kilpatrick. "It was like come on son we've got to get this in. We were trying but obviously it didn't happen."

Kilpatrick was the Cats' leading scorer with 21 points including four 3-pointers.

In fact, the outside shot is what drove their offense throughout the game. The Bearcats finished 16 of 35 from downtown and had seven players finish with at least one 3-point shot.

"Playing four guards -- that's key," said Kilpatrick. "Especially on the 3-point range. I mean everyone on our team can shoot. And that's something we practice every day."

Although it seemed as though they would reach their goal, the Bearcats didn't have enough offensively to get their 100.

At times the shots just didn't fall.

"I guess I'm getting spoiled," said Cronin. "You start thinking we're going to make every open shot. We had some great looks that didn't go down."

While it may have been fun to rewrite the record books, the Bearcats know their attention must now turn to a challenging schedule that awaits them.

"We know now, going deeper into the schedule with the bigger name teams that we're going to play that it's going to be a lot more executing and a lot more defense and a lot more details that we got to pay attention to," Kilpartrick said. "It was great to play these teams that we played but I think everyone now has to realize that it's crunch time now."

The Bearcats (9-3) host Oklahoma (9-1) Thursday. It will be the first true test since the Crosstown Shootout and subsequent suspensions.

Whether or not the Bearcats are underdogs at US Bank Arena, Cronin wants his team to view themselves that way.

"We need to take the underdog mentality into this game," said Cronin. "And our guys need to

understand that that's our edge right now and we need to keep it the rest of the season."

But being underdogs doesn't mean that you don't believe in your team. The players know it's a long season and a lot can happen before it's all said and done.

They may not always be chasing records but if they play together, they'll be right where they want to be.

"Every team has ups and downs and sometimes things aren't going our way," said Kilpatrick. "But, if we're able to come through at the end and come together and basically know that we're a team and nothing can come between that then we should be fine."

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