No rest for the wicked this week, Bearcat fans. One game ends, and a new begins. Since this is the Temple preview, I'll try not to harp on last night's loss to Memphis, but it'll take a little discipline.
If there are two things I'm positive of so far this year, it's that, in order to win, the Bearcats can't turn the ball over at a high clip, and they need Octavius Ellis to be productive on the floor. Their offense isn't good enough to make up for an inordinate amount of turnovers. And they don't have enough quality depth on the front line to overcome a terrible game by Ellis. He doesn't need to go for 15 & 10 every game, but he absolutely can't put up the stat line he did at Memphis on Thursday.
- Game: Saturday, January 17 @ 7:30pm ET
- Location: Fifth Third Arena; Cincinnati, OH
- TV/Radio: ESPNU; 700 WLW
Here's the good news: the season ain't over yet. The highs aren't usually as high as they seem - and the lows aren't nearly as bad as they feel in the moment. This is still the same team that beat SDSU, NC State, and SMU.
But what about Temple?
They come to Clifton having lost two in a row to conference leaders Tulsa and SMU. The Owls beat Connecticut on New Year's Eve, so there's reason for concern in Bearcat-land.
Temple boasts three guys averaging over 12.5 points a game. 6'5" junior guard DeCosey Quenton is back, and puts up 13.9 a game so far this year. Will Cummings, the 6'2" senior guard is also back, and averages 12.9 points a game.
Finally, UMass transfer Jesse Morgan - who sat all of last year and the first 10 games of this year due to transfer rules - has come out guns blazing since he took the floor 8 games ago, averaging 12.6 points each contest.
Even though Cincinnati's coming off a pair of deflating losses and even though the Owls have a trio of scorers, I'm still optimistic. Temple doesn't have as many shot blockers as Memphis, so I don't think the Bearcats will turn it over as easy down low. Plus, the crowd will be a coordinating sea of red and black thanks to the #StripeTheStands effort this weekend. Imagine the intimidation.
What the 'Cats have to do to win:
- Protect the ball. Been here, done that; you know the story. No more shot clock violations. No more offensive goaltends.
- Shut down 1 of the 3. If they're able to lockdown one of Temple's 3 scoring guards, they'll be in great shape as Temple's offense isn't nearly as potent as it was last year.
- Rebound. Does it seem like I always have the same keys to victory down here because I swear I don't. Temple's not a great 3-point shooting team (29.9% on the year), so the Bearcats need to grab the misses on both ends of the court.
I like that UC's returning home this Saturday. Yes, their effort stunk against Memphis, but the Bearcats are anywhere from an 8 to 15 point favorite depending on where you're looking. Cincinnati wins - and gets back on track - 64-53.