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Layup Line: South Florida

Man, was last night fun or was last night FUN? The Bearcats managed to wipe away the scars of an unexpected loss with a huge victory at SMU. Up next, USF.

Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Plenty of crow to eat this morning, and I'm gladly scarfing it all down. Hell, I barely got any sleep last night, and I feel like a million bucks. The magic of Moody is no more, and in one fell swoop the Bearcats injected joy and energy into a fanbase desperately looking for a winner.

All this after possibly the worst 10 minutes of basketball to start a game I've ever witnessed.

And you know who's hoping Cincinnati recreates that turnover-riddled opening? The South Florida Bulls.

  • Game: Saturday, February 7 @ 8:00pm ET
  • Location: Fifth Third Arena; Cincinnati, OH
  • TV/Radio: CBS Sports Network; 700 WLW

This pretty well sums up how a lot of us felt after last night's game:

42 points in one half against SMU's defense is good. In fact, the Bearcats have had quite a few head-turning performances on offense that are, well, not offensive. So much so, that I'm willing to declare their offense isn't inept. It's slow and inconsistent due to turnovers, but it's anything but inept.

SMU's adjusted defensive efficiency ranks 30th according to KenPom. And the Bearcats scorched them for 42 points in one half. For comparison's sake, UC's defense is 16th. Let's look at other great defenses Cincinnati has faced and how they managed to do:

  • SDSU: 5th in KenPom; UC scored 71 (in OT, I know)
  • Temple: 8th; 84 points
  • Nebraska: 15th; 55 points
  • VCU: 24th; 47 points
  • SMU: 30th; 62 points

Okay, so look: the Nebraska and VCU games don't back up my claim, but you have to consider the fact that they both took place back in December. Ever since Jermaine Sanders was inserted into the starting lineup and the Bearcats entered conference play, they've been a different team on the offensive end - and that's reflected in their recent performances against pretty good defenses.

So enough with the Mick Cronin/Larry Davis can't coach offense.

The reason Cincinnati doesn't score 80 a game? They play at a sloth-like pace (337th fastest team in college basketball) and they sporadically turn the ball over. Limit the amount of times the ball's been turned over - which is something a Mick Cronin coached team can do - and their offense will look much more consistent.

What the 'Cats have to do to win:

  • Feed the post. USF's big threat down low, sophomore Chris Perry, has been sidelined the last week with health issues. He remains day-to-day. Overall, the Bearcats shouldn't have to rely on hitting outside shots.
  • Don't turn the ball over. You watched the SMU game. Technically, I guess that game showed the Bearcats can turn the ball over and still win. But my blood pressure could use a few less, so what do you say, Cats?
  • Put 'em away late. Don't let this game drag on like the ECU contest did. USF has a terrible conference record (1-9), but they've hung around late with a few teams.

The home crowd helps alleviate any concern of a Bearcat slip-up. With ECU fresh in their mind, I can't imagine them rolling back into Cincinnati, feeling overconfident. Bearcats win 64-58.