Cincinnati's first game ranked #24 in the country didn't go quite as expected. Despite high-scoring affairs in the first four games, highlighted by efficient shooting, the Bearcats struggled to knock down buckets for much of the game. It wasn't until a late surge in the second half, that Cincinnati closed out their 64-49 win over Southeastern Louisiana.
The 64 points the Bearcats scored is a far cry from the 96.3 points Cincinnati has been averaging per game this season. The low scoring output was a result of a rough night shooting. Cincinnati went 22-of-54 (40.7%) on the night from the field and went 8-of-23 (34.8%) from beyond the arc. For a team that was knocking down 50.8% of their field goals and 42.2% from three, tonight's marks were pretty significant drop-offs.
The poor shooting performance kept the Lions around much longer than many expected, with Southeastern Louisiana trailing by only three with just over 10 minutes left in the second half. However, from that point on, the Bearcats took control of the game and got hot, particularly from deep. Jacob Evans III was instrumental in Cincinnati pulling away with the freshman scoring 13 of his 15 points in the final 10 minutes. First, Evans knocked down two free throws, before hitting two straight three-pointers, extending the Cincinnati lead out to 11 (35-46).
Troy Caupain, who also scored 15 points on the night and eight points in the final seven minutes, then knocked down his own three-pointer. Kevin Johnson, Caupain and Evans would each add threes. Coreontae DeBerry and Caupain each added points coming around the bucket as the Bearcats closed out the game for a 64-49 victory.
Cincinnati's struggles really centered around their ability to get the ball in the basket. Otherwise, the Bearcats won the rebounding battle, bringing in 38 rebounds to the Lions 28. They were also more effective at setting up teammates with Cincinnati having 16 assists to the Lions 6. The Bearcats earned eight steals, as a team.
Caupain and Evans led the team in scoring with 15 apiece. As mentioned above, Caupain scored eight of those points in the final seven minutes. Evans' performance was perhaps even more impressive with all 15 of his points coming in the final 13 minutes when the pesky Southeastern Louisiana Lions were hanging around, too close for comfort. Evans added six rebounds as well. Gary Clark scored 12 points (all in the first half), knocking down the team's first three-pointer, and added eight rebounds himself. Farad Cobb struggled in this one, only hitting 1-of-4 shots. He missed both three-pointers he attempted.
Zay Jackson led the Southeastern Louisiana Lions with 15 points. Joshua Filmore added 12 points for the Lions as the team shot 37.3% (19-of-51) from the field and 38.9% (7-of-18) from three-point range.
Cincinnati is back on the court on Friday to face-off with Nebraska at the Barclays Center Classic.