Like I mentioned in the pregame, losing to DePaul would have been more embarrassing than a home loss to Prebyterian (hypothetically, of course). It was one of the ugliest games Cincinnati had played shooting just 20% from three-point land and allowed 35 rebounds. While DePaul averages right around that many rebs in their games, the Blue Demons were on pace for 46 at halftime. That’s just horrid considering Yancy Gates and Cheikh Mbodj should have owned a much younger DePaul team in the paint. But halftime adjustments allowed Cincinnati to lock down the boards in the 2nd half.
Another big difference was Justin Jackson. Dude mean-faced Cincinnati to a win tonight. He set a new career high with 14 points and brought an energy to the floor. To be fair, JJ always provides a spark on the floor but he attacked the rim, drew fouls, and provided points on the scoreboard. DePaul had few answers for his explosiveness. But the marked turning point in the game was when Jamee Crockett fouled out with five-and-a-half minutes to go. The Blue Demon forward left the court with the 2nd-most points of any player on either team with 17. Only Cleveland Melvin had more but DePaul wasn’t able to find other scoring options. With Crockett gone, Cincinnati was able to focus on Melvin who was held without a point in that time.
That certainly wasn’t the way I wanted the Bearcats to beat DePaul tonight. Wins in the Big East are never a walk in the park but you typically go into games against the Blue Demons with a ‘let’s get this over with and get that dub’ attitude. While the victory will be characterized as ‘ugly’ and ‘sloppy’, Cincinnati has finally notched their 6th Big East win of the season. Hopefully this game will jump start UC to finish off the season strong. The Bearcats will travel to St. John’s on Wednesday in a game in which Cincinnati will try to avenge a buzzer-beater loss to the Johnnies a month ago.