BOZICH | Is Kentucky beatable? Cincinnati says yes but scoreboar - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Is Kentucky beatable? Cincinnati says yes but scoreboard says no

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Willie Cauley-Stein dunked over Quadri Moore to put Kentucky ahead of Cincinnati to stay Saturday. (AP Photo) Willie Cauley-Stein dunked over Quadri Moore to put Kentucky ahead of Cincinnati to stay Saturday. (AP Photo)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – This is what happens when Kentucky misses 63 percent of its shots, bricks 11 of 15 three-pointers and gets handled on the glass:

The Wildcats win by 13.

Think about that.

Poor shooting. No three-point game. Poor rebounding. Double-digit win.

Mark it down as Kentucky 64, Cincinnati 51 at the KFC Yum! Center Saturday. Put the Wildcats in the Sweet Sixteen of the Midwest Regional, booked for a Thursday night game against Maryland or West Virginia in Cleveland.

Then listen to what the Cincinnati players had to say about John Calipari's team, the one that just improved to 36-0 on an afternoon when one member of the UC pep band flashed a “35-1,” poster – for about half the game anyway.

“To be honest with you, everybody's blowing them up like they're this and they're that,” said Coreontae DeBerry, Cincinnati's back-up center.

“Kentucky is beatable. We just at the end let it slip away. We were with them the whole time.”

Perhaps DeBerry was simply dealing with sting of his season ending after two NCAA Tournament games. Like several teammates, DeBerry watched the Wildcats swat his shot toward Fourth Street Live.

I moved across the Bearcats' locker room. Maybe one of his teammates was having a better day, like Shaq Thomas, the UC forward who had 10 points and nine rebounds.

“They're pretty good,” Thomas said. “I think they're definitely beatable if you play 40 minutes without honestly not turning the ball over and honestly not letting them get dunks.”

Pretty, good? Honestly, I think Thomas was another guy fussing about the idea that the Bearcats will not play another game until November.

The Cincinnati players talked as if they led for 37 minutes, not seven minutes and 42 seconds. Kentucky surged ahead on an unforgettable dunk by Willie Cauley-Stein with 2:46 remaining in the first half. UK 25, UC 24.

Cincinnati never led again. In fact, the Bearcats trailed by 19 before scoring the final six points. That affected gamblers because Kentucky was favored by 15 ½. But it should not affect the view that this game tilted heavily toward Kentucky over the final 23 minutes.

Not that anybody in the Cincinnati locker room was ready to score it that way.

“Anybody can get beat on any given day,” said UC guard Troy Caupain. “They're a good team. I don't take anything from them. They play hard.”

“If you eliminate our turnovers and you get quality shots and they fall in, we would have came here with what we came here for,” said Octavius Ellis, the Bearcats' center.

So you were convinced Cincinnati was going to win?

“Yesterday, the day before yesterday and last week, we thought that we were going to win,” Ellis said.

Here is why Cincinnati did not win – even on day when the Wildcats allowed 21 offensive rebounds and made only four three-point shots.

Scoring against Kentucky is like shooting a basketball through rotating helicopter blades. Cincinnati managed 63 possessions. More than a quarter of those possessions resulted in a blocked shot or a Kentucky steal. The nine blocks were two more shots than any team had swatted against the Bearcats this season.

The Bearcats made 31.7 percent of their field-goal attempts and only a pair of three-point shots. No reason to be ashamed. Cincinnati was the 23rd team that failed to make 40 percent of its field-goal attempts against Kentucky.

That was not good enough to make Kentucky wobble – even on afternoon when only Trey Lyles (11 points, 11 boards), Aaron Harrison (13 points on three shots from distance) and Tyler Ulis (9 points and 5 assists) played efficient offense for the Wildcats.

“They're big,” Caupain said. “It's hard to score in the paint.”

Finally, at least one Cincinnati player started to realize what Kansas, North Carolina, Louisville and others discovered this season. Easy baskets? That is what makes Kentucky, well, Kentucky. There aren't many easy baskets around because John Calipari has stacked post players the way most coaches stack firewood.

“You can't prepare for it,” Caupain said. “They're just big.

“The bigs are what stop you on the defensive end. Once you get past their guards, it's hard to score. They block shots around the rim.

“It's hard. You can get the ball up. You've got to maneuver around when they come to block shots. They send two or three people to block the shots.”

Yes, they do. And then they win even when the opposing team is convinced they shouldn't.

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