Exciting Finish Gives Lobos Win Over #10 Cincinnati

Empty stadium 10 minutes before game time. No one minded our Illini gear.

One game down, three to go. And what a first game it was! This was poised to be a top 25 matchup between two undefeated teams, but a loss from New Mexico last week to South Dakota State ruined that scenario. No matter! The Lobos put on an impressive show and beat the undefeated, No. 10 Bearcats on Cincy’s court.

Okay, it wasn’t exactly an impressive show by either team. With a half-time score of 26-22, we weren’t sure that anyone would hit 50 before the game ended. Final score out of Cincy was 55-54, Lobos. Cincy tried to lob in a last-second shot about three seconds after the buzzer sounded, and then proceeded to stand around like maybe New Mexico should stop their celebrating. After some weird confusion, the Lobos celebrated and the fans around us went home with sullen faces.

The Scene
The stadium was nice enough, with the highlight being that they sell beer. I’ve never been to a college basketball stadium that sells beer before, and since half of the people buying appeared under 21, I can guess why that’s usually the standard. But drunk Cincy fans are fun fans!

Aside from the beer, the stadium was pretty standard. It had a touch of the Northwestern, high school feel, but looked a little bit more upscale. When we arrived about 20 minutes before the game, it was completely empty. Sure, we’re early, but it was clear that punctuality isn’t a thing in Cincy.

As the game progressed, people started trickling in, and the stadium was maybe ¾ full by the end of the game. Since the Belk Bowl was going on between Cincinnati and Duke at the same time, I’ll assume that many students were at that game or in a bar watching it, because the students never really showed up.

One neat student trick: a poof of confetti after the first Cincy score. I’m not sure if that’s something they do every game. Since no one scored for about 5 minutes into the game, it came at an even weirder time.

The Cincy mascot is a small “bearcat” and since I’m not sure if that exists, it was weird enough looking to make sense. Cat head, brown body that could be anything, and then inexplicably large feet.

Snacks at the game were ordinary. It was hard to pass up the cotton candy, and had it not been 20 degrees outside then I would’ve gotten a snow cone. The husband gave the hotdogs a solid 6. It was a little lacking in appearance, but tasted alright.I skipped the nachos, as they were the standard plain yellow chips and glob of orange goop.

Cheerleaders were fine. They did a neat spinny thing on each others’ shoulders. The dance team (Bearsluts as the husband lovingly called them) members were subpar, but this was probably the D squad since the rest would be at the bowl game. There was no band at all, which seemed odd.

The fight song was unlike any I’d heard before, and sounded like a ditty that would fit nicely in The Music Man. The intro wasn’t very exciting, and the game began with lots of rap music (which persisted throughout) and not a lot of fanfare.

As for the game itself, quite a stinker. Cincy did NOT look like a Top 10 team, and New Mexico didn’t look so hot either. The teams settled down and played better after the second half. Perhaps this was due to a burst of energy after witnessing the dance team shake their butts to a Ke$ha tune? Or, maybe they knew the fans were too drunk to care anymore.

New Mexico managed to have just 2 fouls way late in the game, which ended up being the saving grace. They were up 1 point with 14 seconds to go, and that 14 seconds turned into 4 with various fouls that did not result in shooting. Cincy couldn’t get a shot off, and the buzzer sounded.

On the radio after the game, Cincy’s Coach Mike Cronin made a few comments about the officiating. Which did indeed have problems, but didn’t seem to lean toward any particular team. There were plenty of calls that were clearly due to the home court, and then there were a ton that were simply ignored. The refs didn’t lose the game, the Bearcats did.

Another undefeated team has fallen, and that makes me very happy. We were cheering for the Lobos last night, but when we see them again in St. Louis, I’ll have a lot less invested.

After the game, we tried to wait up because the Lobos were actually staying in our hotel. We saw them head to the game, and even met a nice gentleman also from Chicago who was there to see his brother, an assistant coach with the Lobos. Sadly, we were too tired to await their return.

The Cincy campus on a whole was rather nice. Granted it was dark outside, but we managed to find free street parking, and wander through the campus to the center, which houses the basketball and football stadiums. Amazingly, the football stadium is just smack-dab open in the middle off the campus, and it would’ve been easy to just run down and throw the ball around right then and there. It was a very unique setup. Not sure how they handle that on game day, or even on a typical school day.

Thanks Cincy for hosting us, we had a blast! Now on to Louisville for relaxing, and then we’ll see Vandy play Butler in Nashville on Saturday.

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