BROOKLYN, N.Y. – In a battle of unbeaten teams, Cincinnati pulled out a thrilling 61-56 victory over George Washington. The win gave the Bearcats possession of the Barclays Center Holiday Classic title.
Some notes from the title game start us off.
1. In the first half, George Washington hit 8 of their 11 field goals from beyond the arc. The Colonials shot a torrid 73 percent from that range. They looked to get out in transition, but if the three was available, they were more than willing to oblige.
2. Defensive adjustment: seeing they were beaten off the dribble and susceptible to perimeter kick-outs, Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin went with a smaller lineup for much of the second half. George Washington cooled off, shooting 3 of 11 (27 percent) from long range the final twenty minutes.
3. Utilizing the signature inside game: the second half saw Cincinnati establish a strong inside presence in the paint. The Bearcats held a 24-16 edge in points in the paint. Octavius Ellis (nine points and seven boards), came up big down the stretch and the 6-10 Senior walked off with MVP honors.
4. Numbers: The possessions were 63, with the Bearcats having a 112-93 lead in offensive efficiency. Troy Caupain of Cincinnati led all scorers with 16 points. Patrick Garino of George Washington paced the Colonials with 15. Both Garino and Caupain joined Punter, Tyler Cavanaugh (GW) and Nebraska’s Tai Webster on the all-tournament team. Cincinnati is 7-0, George Washington 6-1. Nebraska improved to 5-2, Tennessee is now 4-3.
In the consolation game, Nebraska edged Tennessee 82-71. A 46-30 rebounding advantage for the ‘Huskers was the crucial difference in the outcome. In the 73-possession game Nebraska had a 112-97 advantage in offensive efficiency. They placed four in double figures while Kevin Punter, Tennessee’s all-tournament selection, led the way with 23 points.
“We were outplayed,” said Tennessee associate head coach Rob Lanier. “Nebraska is not a big, strong, physical team. They are very good and very well coached…for us to get dominated on the glass though, speaks to our maturity as a team.”
“Tennessee has been able to comeback on everyone…for us to be able to hold them off was important for us,” said Nebraska head coach Tim Miles
“We made a lot of threes (first half) that kept us in the game,” said George Washington head coach Mike Lonergan. “But I didn’t think we played real well except for our outside shooting. Our bigs really struggled against Cincinnati.”
“GW is tough and well coached,” said Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin. “I like what they do on the offensive end but obviously our rebounding was a game changer.”
On the baseline
It’s not too often you see a twirler at a basketball game; cheerleaders, dance teams and bands are the usual time out entertainment. Cincinnati brought the band, cheer squad and two outstanding twirlers. Suzy Cartor and Krissie Livesay, Cincinnati sophomores, made the trip to grace the Barclays floor with their twirling expertise. The duo compete nationally and perform at Cincinnati Bengals games as well.