One of the most dominating performances in the Mick Cronin era saw records drop on both offense and defense. It all started with Sean Kilpatrick.
By Ashley Davis/Special to GoBearcats.com
The Bearcats basketball team displayed record-setting performances, both offensively and defensively, during Sunday's 93-39 win over North Carolina A&T.
Sean Kilpatrick led the team in three categories, showing why voters selected him as a preseason Top 50 Wooden Award nominee and preseason First Team All-Big East. His 29 points surpassed his previous career high of 27 points at Georgetown last January.
He started fast, scoring 21 of his 29 points in the first half and overtaking his season high 20 points against Mississippi Valley State. He quickly credited the team for his success though.
"Everyone was finding me early," Kilpatrick said. "On top of that, there were just open shots. It couldn't have been a good night without the team."
He also tied his career high with 10 made field goals and set a new career high for 3-point field goals with eight. His five assists, including a no-look pass to Cheikh Mbodj for a slam dunk in the second half, complemented his zero turnovers.
Head coach Mick Cronin was not surprised because he has "off the charts" preparation.
"His preparation every day for every game is good as I've ever been around as a coach," Mick Cronin said. "He's always focused, always intense and trying to get better every day."
Good defense creates offense and the Bearcats put on a defensive clinic. Cronin was most pleased with the defensive effort, including 12 blocked shots, most since he started coaching at UC.
"We blocked a lot of shots when they came at the rim. That was pretty discouraging for their guys and it got them gun shy," Cronin said. "Whenever you get 12 blocked shots from one position, you got to be happy with that. But we can't put our five man in that position as much as we did."
They also allowed NC A&T to shoot only 15 percent from the field, the lowest in the Cronin era.
Although the 54-point margin of victory ended up the largest under Cronin, the head coach still feels this team can get better, especially at the free throw line. They made just 9 of 23 and are hitting only 60 percent on the season. He called their performance from the stripe "unacceptable."
"I saw lack of concentration," said Cronin, who plans on attacking the problem with 7 a.m. free throw shooting practice Monday.
Kilpatrick also sees a need for improvement, but in a different way. He thinks the team can still improve on the turnover margin. UC dished out 24 assists to 13 turnovers.
"Thirteen is still a lot of turnovers," he said. "But at least we had more assists than turnovers."
However, Cronin knows his team isn't to the level they should be.
"We're not good enough yet," he said and followed quickly with, "but nobody is."