One of the great things about basketball season is that it doesn't take long for the gears to get going. It seems like just yesterday we were all clamoring for college hoops to be back and now we are neck deep in it. It's a glorious time to be alive, especially with the slew of games coming during this Thanksgiving weekend.
While the sample size of the season is still small, something I will keep harping on until we get into the heart of December, Cincinnati continues to chug, nay, zoom along. After a 2-0 opening weekend, the Bearcats hung up mutilations of Bowling Green (83-50) and Arkansas-Pine Bluff (99-50) this past week. Suffice to say, at 4-0 with a point differential of plus 169, Cincinnati is in a great position as the season heats up. Let's take a deeper dive into the week that was and what's coming up next.
Farad Cobb is a 3-point Assassin
This was touched on in the preview of the Arkansas-Pine Bluff game, but after he erupted yet again, it needs to be mentioned once more. Farad Cobb is having an outrageous start to the season. For the third-straight game, Cobb was the leading scorer for the Bearcats, as he put in 20 points.
The question is: where the heck did this streak come from? He already has as many 20-point games this season as he did all last year (two) and his 3-point shooting has been Steph Curry-esque. He drained 6-of-11 from long range on Sunday, bumping him up to a 16-of-26 success rate on the campaign. To put that in perspective, he has made as many triples on as many attempts as Octavius Ellis has from the floor overall. Not only is his 3-point shooting making him look like the NBA's MVP, but so is his swagger on the floor. I present the following as evidence.
All those scorched nets have Cobb's offensive rating through the roof (145.6), but he has maintained his effort on the defensive end of the floor as well, as he has a defensive rating of 79.3.
Dominating Both Ends
I apologize if you are tired of hearing it, but remember to take this with a grain of salt because of the level of competition, but Good Lord is Cincinnati playing great all-around basketball. That defensive rating for Cobb would be the pride of most rosters. Not for Cincinnati, as every player on the roster is below 100. Leading the team is Coreontae DeBerry (62.1), followed by Ellis (65.2). The Golden Lions were the most recent victim of the brutal defense the Bearcats play. Cincinnati forced 30 turnovers and scored 44 points off mishaps on Sunday. I can only assume your eyes have just popped out of your sockets because those are unheard of numbers.
Now let's turn to the offensive end. Cincinnati had it's worst offensive game of the season on the road against Bowling Green last Wednesday, putting up a measly 83 points. Don't worry, the Bearcats bounced back with a 99-point drubbing of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Joking aside, the type of offensive firepower Cincinnati is putting on display is unprecedented for this program. Last season, considered a strong one of the team, the Bearcats played such lightweights as Saint Francis, Morehead State and Eastern Illinois in the first few games of the season and came nowhere near the point totals they have this year. In fact, through four games last season, Cincinnati averaged 58.5 points per game. They are averaging 96.3 this season. Obviously, the 30-second shot clock has had an effect, but the efficiency of the offense has been crucial as well. The Bearcats are making 50.8 percent from the floor and 42.2 percent from 3-point range. A regression is inevitable, especially as the schedule heats up, but each 90-point explosion that Cincinnati puts up is just another brick in the foundation of the argument that this team is one that can get it done on offense.
Nationally Ranked and It Feels So Good
After an unforgivable amount of time outside of the national rankings, the national media and coaches finally woke up and recognized what's happening in the Queen City. Cincinnati earned the No. 24 position in both the AP and Coach's poll. The Bearcats are now one of two teams in the American Athletic Conference to be in the Top 25, with No. 18/21 Connecticut the other. With tests against plenty of other nationally ranked teams in the near future, Cincinnati could be way up there once December comes to a close and AAC play gets going.
400 for Cronin
Many may not remember that Mick Cronin once headed up Murray State, a team he took to the NCAA Tournament twice, before coming on to coach the Bearcats. He coached in 93 games for the Racers, winning 69 of them. He has had a much longer tenure at Cincy, with Sunday's contest his 307th on the sidelines for the Bearcats. Add it all up and Cronin is the proud holder of 400 all-time coaching appearances. He is 258-142 all-time as a head coach, including a 189-118 record with Cincinnati. He will definitely get to 200 wins this season, but is a ways off of the all-time record of 399 held by Bob Huggins.
Highlight of the Week
While Cobb's six points in eight seconds serves as a worthy candidate, this week's best highlight was crafted by freshman Justin Jenifer. If you don't think Cincinnati's future is in capable (and incredibly crafty) hands, then you aren't paying attention.
Quadri Moore Minutes Watch
Moore got a consistent workload this week, playing 13 minutes against Bowling Green and 14 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. He may have earned himself some more minutes after his performance on Sunday, when he scored 10 points and brought down eight rebounds. He is up to 50 total minutes on the season and is on pace for 387.5, excluding any postseason play.
What Comes Next
While most of the country can look forward to a long Thanksgiving weekend, Cincinnati has a busy week ahead, with three games. Tonight it has hosting duties against Southeastern Louisiana in regional play of the Barclays Center Classic. Then on Friday and Saturday it will take part in the actual classic in Brooklyn. The first opponent of the weekend will be Nebraska, with a matchup against either George Washington or Tennessee on Saturday, depending on the results from Friday.