Cincinnati never trailed in this game. The score doesn't show it, but Cincinnati dominated this game from the beginning. Bob Knight must have said the Bearcats should be up more than they were at least a dozen times. Some missed opportunities from the Bearcats coupled with Ryan Boatright forgetting how to miss prevented Cincinnati from completely pulling away enough to end it early. Ryan Boatright had a game high 22 points almost entirely off second half threes, most of which were above average difficulty.
Cincinnati held UCONN to only 58 points, 8 points under their season average. UCONN shot just 32.8% from the field, largely due to Cincinnati's swarming defense. By the way, Bob Knight is a big fan of Cincinnati defense. Tonight, UCONN looked like the offensively deficient Bearcats of the past. The same can't be said of the Bearcats. On the Cincinnati end, there were back cuts, slashers, head fakes, and the ball moved... with purpose!!
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Throughout the year, questions have been raised about who the Bearcats are going to get the ball to when they need a bucket. Who is their clutch guy? Tonight, that question was answered. Nineteen year old, Troy Caupain dropped a career high 20 points on the Huskies. Not only can Troy drop 20 on a team like he did tonight, but his 87% free throw shooting makes him a guy you want to have the ball late in games. Unlike Farad Cobb, who can 24 or 18 a night, Troy doesn't disappear for stretched of games.
On a team full of leaders, Troy Caupain has clearly emerged as THE leader on this team. When a bucket was needed, he was there to remove any sense of hope from the Huskies' players. On the dark side, a couple of bonehead taunting fouls led to Caupain being ejected from this one with 2:24 to go. Honestly it didn't bother me much. I will take overly passionate over lack of energy anyway. Hopefully, he learned from this one and won't prove to be a repeat offender in a closer contest.
It is hard to imagine that a guy that averages 7.8 points and 7.2 boards a game doesn't have more, but Gary Clark posted his second double-double of the season tonight (other was 12/12 against Ole Miss). At this point, it doesn't seem like this kid has much of a ceiling. He is getting more experience and confidence with every game, which is a scary thought. Tonight he put up 12 points, 10 boards, 4 steals, 2 blocks, 2 assists, and just 1 turnover. Going forward I think you can count on Clark for jumping into at least one passing lane for a breakaway dunk per game.
Lost in this game was the foul trouble of Octavious Ellis and Kevin Johnson. They both finished with 4 fouls and had this one been closer that may have been a story line. Though DeBerry is getting better every game, Ellis has got to stay out of foul trouble (I must have said that at least 6 or 7 times by now).
With this win the Bearcats move firmly into third place in the conference. This matchup is becoming the key rivalry in the AAC. It isn't quite there, but the edge of tonight's game was evident. Cincinnati will play ECU on Sunday and then head to SMU a week from today (2/5) for a chance to move into second in the conference. It is possible that that game agains SMU and the March 4 contest against Tulsa just may decide the regular season AAC champion.
- Daniele "Da" Bologna