Playmakers: Cincy attacks the Cuse zone

In this new weekly installment, I’ll attempt to dissect some of college basketball’s top plays from the past week.

Cincy attacks the Syracuse zone

The December brawl between Cincy and Xavier was a turning point for both teams. The Musketeers haven’t been the same since that day. But Cincy pushed the reset button on its season after that unfortunate event.

Earlier this week, the Bearcats were on the verge of upsetting Syracuse before the Orange took over in the second half. Cincy was at its best when it found and attacked the creases in Syracuse’s zone, as demonstrated by this second-half sequence in its 60-53 loss to the Orange Monday (1:09 mark in the video).

Dion Dixon tosses the ball inside to Justin Jackson, but gets it back on the bounce pass as he moves to the right wing.

Syracuse traps as Jackson moves over to the right block. It’s the kind of inside-outside effort that can disrupt a 2-3 zone. Dixon gets the ball back to Jackson inside and C.J. Fair and Rakeem Christmas come over to help, leaving Yancy Gates alone in the paint.

Great court awareness for Jackson who sees the open Gates and gets him the ball for the dunk. When Cincy played that kind of basketball, it was the better team that night. It abandoned that balance, however, down the stretch.

Michigan moves the ball, beats Purdue late

In the Big Ten, every game is meaningful. Road games are priceless. A multitude of Big Ten contenders have suffered unexpected road losses to squads in the bottom half of the conference.

Michigan was on the verge of taking a crucial loss at Purdue, but the Wolverines finished strong. They don’t have a ton of size, but the Wolverines continue to turn that into an advantage, something they showed in this critical play with 1:34 remaining in their 66-64 win at Purdue Tuesday.

It starts with Trey Burke driving toward the lane with his team down by a point. He sucks in Purdue’s defense because he’s such a dangerous penetrator.

Lewis Jackson turns toward Burke, expecting the freshman to complete the play. But Burke kicks it outside to Zack Novak. Jackson comes back to the perimeter to stop Novak, but the Michigan guard pump-fakes and drives left on the off-balanced defender.

He attracts multiple Purdue defenders, including Robbie Hummel who briefly turns away from Jordan Morgan. Novak finds a patient Morgan on the left block for the go-ahead dunk. It was a significant play for the Wolverines.