For the first time in Mick Cronin's tenure UC has something opponents want, an undefeated season.
That elusive first loss. Opponents want to scar the beautiful face. With a jealousy familiar only to fresh-faced teens envied by their pimply peers. From this point forward everyone will want to ruin this undefeated season, to ding the brand new car of their wealthier neighbors.
If you can't keep up with the Jones', then spoil their fun. Bring them down to their level.
Seton Hall tried that tonight.
Before the ball was even tipped Herb Pope was staring at Yancy Gates. Childish and juvenile as the stare down was, Pope used this moment as his first of many maneuvers.
After scoring his first and only bucket 48 seconds into the game the veteran center yapped in the face of Gates. All the way down the floor. And Gates simply ignored him.
Midway through the second half Gates looked at the officials with a look that can only described as shock.
"He is stepping on my foot," said Gates. Pope was not accidentally clipping the toes with his foot. In fact, he peppered Gates' feet with repeated stomps. A bizarre series that miffed Gates so much that Coach Cronin had to pull him from the game.
Minutes later when Gates returned Yancy put a professional level post move on Pope and drew the foul. Only Pope's third it seemed like a small moment, but when Gates missed his second Darnell Wilks shot through the lane and challenged Pope for the rebound. A lazy, abnormally flat-footed Pope grabbed Wilks' arm and earned his second foul (4th overall) in ten seconds. As Wilks was hitting the two subsequent free throws Pope was pulled from the game, returning when the game was already out of hand.
Though the aforementioned subplot might have gone unnoticed by some it was a significant factor in the Cincinnati win.