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postGame: Villanova 72, Cincinnati 61

Bearcats vs Wildcats coverage

Game ended approximately 2:17 PM eastern time.  Villanova Wildcats defeat Cincinnati Bearcats 72-61.  Some notes on the game are below. Be sure to check out the TSN recap along with the box score.

-In Cincinnati's first real test of the year, the Bearcats' monstrous frontcourt stood out early, as Yancy Gates notched a couple of putbacks to give the visitors a 6-0 lead.  Villanova quickly countered with an 11-2 run on the heels of a few Corey Fisher trey balls.

-Halfway through the opening 20 minutes, the teams were knotted up at 15 apiece.  The Wildcat defense then clamped down on Cincy for the rest of the half, which frustrated the Bearcat players and head coach Mick Cronin.  The frustration boiled over when Cronin was T'd up after no foul was called on a Villanova blocked shot with about three minutes left. 

-While the Wildcats tightened up on the defensive end, Corey Fisher sparked the offense singlehandedly via free throws, mid-range jumpers, and the aforementioned deep shots.  By halftime, Fish already had 20 points, while Cincinnati only had 23 as a team. 

-Halftime score: Villanova 39 Cincinnati 23 

More on the game after the jump...

-The Bearcats didn't let out all of their frustration in the locker room at halftime, as big man Ibrahima Thomas received a technical foul in the first few minutes for arguing a foul call.  The technical resulted in Thomas fouling out of the game with eighteen plus minutes remaining in the game.  Nova turned the miscue into a 20 point lead. 

-A potential blowout for the Wildcats changed on a dime.  Villanova went cold from the field, and two key cogs, Corey Fisher and Mouphtaou Yarou, picked up their fourth fouls early in the second half.  With only one true ballhandler on the court in the form of Maalik Wayns, Cincy used their full court press to cause a slew of Villanova turnovers.  It all added up to Cincinnati trimming the deficit to 7 on numerous occasions with about ten minutes to go.

-Even though Wayns picked up his fourth foul as well, Jay Wright had no choice but to leave him in.  Maalik was able to stem the tide by breaking the press and creating some easy opportunities for his teammates and himself.  The Villanova lead hovered around 8-11 points throughout much of the latter stages of the second half, as the home squad just couldn't put the pesky Bearcats away.

-Jay Wright had to mix and match down the stretch since every Villanova starter had 4 fouls for the last five minutes or so.  Cincinnati just never could get the game down to a single possession, and Nova ran out the clock to secure their 45th straight win at the Pavilion. 

-Statistics-wise, Corey Fisher only had 1 point in the second half due to foul trouble, but he totaled 21 for the game to go along with 5 rebounds and 4 assists.  Maalik Wayns tallied 15 points and 5 assists, but the 6 turnovers for him is alarming.  Mouphtaou Yarou notched 9 points and added 7 boards.  For the visiting Bearcats, Rashad Bishop scored 14 points, while Yancy Gates just missed a double-double with 11 points and 9 rebounds. 

-General observations:

  • This is definitely a good win, but when you have a 20 point lead at home in the 2nd half, there needs to be a killer instinct.  Villanova let Cincy right back in the game because of turnovers.  If they took care of the ball, Cincinnati would more than likely have packed it in. 
  • Two ugly stats for each team: 19 turnovers for Villanova and 2-20 three point shooting for Cincinnati.  Definitely great defense by Nova on the perimeter, but the turnovers need to be addressed. 
  • I thought Isaiah Armwood really stood out in this game off the bench.  He was very active on both ends of the floor and contributed a solid 19 minutes with 4 points, 4 blocks, and 6 rebounds.  The bench players are going to be key in the grueling Big East, especially when the feature players are having off nights.