I mentioned in the primer that this had the makings of a trap game. South Florida plays just so extremely well at home despite being away from their true home court the Sun Dome this season. The Bulls play the kind of defense that forces opposing coaching to throw their offensive plays out the window and start from scratch. It’s a swarming kind of defense that prevents teams from outright driving the lane and creates few open looks on the perimeter. Unfortunately it seemed Mick didn’t make the adjustment and went with what the Bearcats had done well all season; Shoot threes. The Bearcats made 3 of 14 today getting one each from Cashmere Wright, Dion Dixon, and Jaquon Parker. Open looks were few and far between but when UC was able to shoot an uncontested shot, they couldn’t bury it.
Overall, USF plays at an extremely slow pace on offense and defense that gets other teams out of rhythm. You could tell the Bearcats wanted to pick up the tempo and generate fast breaks. They were able to get a few but before the game got out of hand, Bulls Head Coach Stan Heath would call a timeout to allow his players to regain control of the pace, which was as I said, agonizingly slow. That definitely played an effect in UC shooting just 34% from the field even though they won the rebound, steals, and turnover battles.
Now the Bearcats are 20 – 9 overall but most importantly 10 – 6 in the Big East. Losing to South Florida today and with Georgetown winning broke a three-way tie for 4th place in the Big East with Cincinnati now on the outside looking in. While they are assured a 1st round bye in the conference tournament the Bearcats will now need to win their final two games of the season in addition to just about everyone ahead of them losing to claim the 4-seed and a 2nd round bye. In the bigger picture of the NCAA Tournament this is definitely a setback and UC can’t afford to drop both of their final two games of the season. I wouldn’t be surprised if this loss puts the Bearcats back on the bubble.