I had no idea how good this team was going to be coming into this year. 17 games into the season, I still have no idea how good this team is. This team can lose to VCU by 21 and apparently beat Temple by 31, which they did tonight (84-53).
Cincinnati jumped out to a 7-0 run before going ice cold and letting Temple back in the game to the tune of a 14-2 run. The Bearcats looked pretty average in the first half. The offense had some moderate movement and the defense was great outside of a handful of big mental lapses (Reminded me more of the UC football team early in the season). The team shot 32.1% in the first half, yet still was able to go into the locker room up 29-28. Ellis should of been in double-digits at the half due to a few missed layups.
Cincinnati came out the gate like they had a halftime speech from Eddie Gran. Like Gran telling Gunner Kiel to feed the ball to Mekale McKay or Shaq Washington, Larry Davis told the entire Bearcats team to feed the ball to Gary Clark... and it worked. Then Cincinnati became something they haven't been in a while... a fun team to watch.
I don't even know where to begin. After ten minutes in the second half, the Bearcats were shooting 92% in the half. I make typos all the time, but that was not one of them and it warrants repeating. After ten minutes in the second had, the Bearcats were shooting 92% in the half.
The past few weeks, this team has caught a lot of flack about the fact that nobody averages double-digits in scoring. Tonight, four Bearcats finished in double-digits including a season-high 16-points from Jermaine Sanders. Tonight, Larry Davis decided to put Sanders in the starting lineup. I didn't really like the move at first, but I was quickly proven wrong with Sanders, out of nowhere, looking like the leader of this team. The team moved the ball much more and Sanders played a role in it. Unlike his entire career at UC, tonight Sanders was looking to shoot the ball and let it fly. As a result, Sanders at the 3-spot to start may be the norm for the immediate future.
A lot went well tonight, individually: Clark had 11 points and 8 boards; Ellis had 13 and 5; Kevin Johnson went 4/5 from three; and Rob Blissitt Jr. scored his second basket as a Bearcat tonight (He's scored multiple times for the baseball team). High fives all around. Collectively: We out rebounded Temple 36-23; we shot 53.7% from the field; 77% from the line; and an outstanding 64.3% from three. Above all, we only had 8 turnovers as a team, which ties our season high.
Back to the scoring - I really don't have an issue with the points being spread around. The lack of a go-to-guy makes scouting Cincinnati nearly impossible. Personally, I would play a relaxed 2-3 zone against the Bearcats with the guards only extending to Farad Cobb. Nobody seems to be on that same page though.
After the game, the team Facetimed Coach Cronin. That is great to see. Mick and Larry have played this about as well as they possibly could. I really hope Larry Davis doesn't get poached at the end of this season.
Tonight was a great win for Bearcat Nation, but unfortunately this is basketball and there isn't much time to soak up the good times in-between games. Next up, Cincinnati has Houston at home on Wednesday and then travels to Florida to take on UCF on Sunday. Cincinnati should win both of those games handedly. Then the Bearcats get UCONN at home for the chance of a little redemption.
-Daniele "Da" Bologna