Cincinnati Bearcats Must Keep Turnovers Under Control Against Connecticut

Joe Murphy

The Cincinnati Bearcats are emminently capible of beating the UConn Huskies. They have the size and athleticism to give the Huskie's smallish guards trouble by keeping them out of the lane, and making them take contested jump shots. But they can only do that in the half court, letting the Huskies get in transition will spell doom for the Bearcats hopes for a double.

The easiest way to keep the Huskies out of transition is to hold onto the damn basketball. During the first half of the conference season UC's turnover rate hovered right around 13 percent. That is not elite by any stretch, but it is serviceable for this team with the defense they have. It was during this low turnover period that the Bearcats reeled off 15 stright wins and generally played as one of the 10 best teams in the country and looked like a legitimate national championship contender.

That has changed in a big way since the meltdown at SMU. In the 8 games since the turnover rate has been right at 18.1 percent. A 5 percent increase might not sound like much, but playing at the pace UC plays with a generally low number of posessions that's huge. More than that in those eight games the Bearcats have had two games with turnover rates above 30 percent, and two more above 20. Its no surprise that three of the Bearcats five losses have come during this streak.

It would be one thing if the Bearcats had played a string of teams that pressed and played ultra aggressive defense that forces turnovers in waves. It is acceptable against a pressing team to turn the ball over, to beat the press, especially one that traps aggresively a team has to take risks. Turnovers are a part of the bargin in that scenario.

However that is not what they have faced though, only Louisville plays that way among the Bearcats opponents during this stretch. The problem isn't opposing defenses as it is the Bearcats making far too many lazy and telegraphed passes that lead to opposition run outs and easy buckets.

In the Bearcats last game against UConn the Huskies racked up 20 points on 20 UC turnovers in a game that the Huskies won by just 6 points. It was UC turnovers that allowed the Huskies to make a run early in the second half. A run that built a lead big enough to sustain them down the stretch despite having their offense evaporate. In the final 7:39 of that game the Huskies went without a field goal. They won by 6 points.

Turnovers are a killer for this Bearcats team even more so than others because they are so suffocating on defense when they can set the defense. But its impossible to set a defense when the ball is turned over in the back court. That leads to runouts and the kind of easy buckets that are neigh on impossible to get against these Bearcats in the half court.

The bottom line is that this team needs to cut down on their turnovers if they want to make a deep run, in this tournament or the NCAA tournament. The Bearcats defense can't carry this team anywhere if the opposition doesn't have to beat it.

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