You don't get ranked in the top ten on back-to-back weeks without dealing with some form of adversity during the season. Do you remember what happened the last time the Cincinnati Bearcats lost a game? They rattled off 15 wins in a row.
I'm guessing that won't happen again this year, but there's obviously plenty of reason to be excited about this team - despite their 21 point loss a week ago.
- Game: Saturday, February 15, 2014; 3:00pm EST
- Location: Fifth Third Arena/Shoemaker Center; Cincinnati, OH
- TV/Radio:ESPNU; 700 WLW
If beating Temple is "impressive," then upsetting the Bearcats in Cincinnati would be "preposterous." In order to do that, the guy I harped on in my last Cougar preview will need a monster game: TaShawn Thomas (#35).
Yes, Cincinnati escaped Houston last January with a one-point victory (after leading by 19 in the 2nd half), but beating the Bearcats in Fifth Third is a monumental task for the Cougars. The Bearcats haven't lost at home yet this year, and it looks like it'll be a packed house:
Was just told less than 500 seats remain for tomorrow vs Houston. Let's sell it out!! Thanks for the support Bearcat Nation!!!!— Mick Cronin (@CoachCroninUC) February 14, 2014
Looking at their previous meeting, TaShawn Thomas only scored 10 points but grabbed 9 rebounds. If Thomas goes for more than his average of 16.2 points, I'll be a somewhat worried.
Sophomore guard Jherrod Stiggers (#21) is starting to come into his own, too. Over his last two games, he's still coming off the bench, but he's averaging 17 points a game on 50% shooting from beyond the arc.
And in "things that make you say wha?!?!?" - it's illegal to sell Limburger cheese on Sundays in Houston. I don't even like Limburger cheese, but that's absurd. Especially in Texas. 'Merica.
What the 'Cats have to do to win:
- Slow Down Thomas. They don't have to completely stop him, but holding him under 16 & 10 would be helpful. Only one other Cougar averages more than 5 rebounds a game, so if you slow down Thomas, Cincinnati should control the glass.
- Find a 3rd Scorer. This might be the theme going forward. We know what Kilpatrick and Jackson will give the Bearcats each game. Someone (paging Thomas and Sanders; Thomas and Sanders, your table is ready) needs to step up on offense on a consistent basis.
- Avoid Blocked Shots. On average, the Cougars block more shots a game than the Bearcats. And it's mainly that guy again - TaShawn Thomas.