Cincinnati started their season looking like this was going to be a special season, but since then have lost three of their last four - granted two of them were top 15 teams - and have struggled defensively in those games while not being able to get their own shots to fall.
Cincinnati got out to an early lead in a game that they were hoping to use to get back on track after a slew of underwhelming performances. Troy Caupain came out with an early three along with Farad Cobb giving Cincinnati an early 6-5 lead going into the first TV timeout.
The Bearcats used great defense to grab an early lead, scoring nine points off of five turnovers. Caupain and Ellis combined for 10 points going into the under-12 timeout.
A scrappy first half and some difficulties on offense early, shooting 29% going into the under eight timeout, USF went on a late run and tied the game going into half, 28-28. Caupain was the leading scorer in the half with nine points.
Cincinnati came out of the halftime break hot and were able to get the ball down, with Shaq Thomas and Coreontae DeBerry, forcing USF to call two quick timeouts with Cincinnati taking a 38-32 lead with 15 minutes to go in the game.
The Bearcats kept their foot on the pedal coming out of the timeout grabbing a 12-point lead and forcing the ball inside. Cincinnati was able to force 21 turnovers in the game and scored 18 points off of them.
By the under-eight timeout, the Bearcats held an 11-point lead. The Bearcats finally were able to gain control of the game (it seemed) behind their increased defensive pressure. Cincinnati was able to get three players in double figures by finally hitting some contested shots.
The Bearcats had all the momentum late, but USF came storming back with a 6-1 run going into the final TV timeout and had somehow made it a game again. USF came out of the timeout running and were able to pull within three when a pass was intercepted by Caupain who looked to seal the deal.
With a missed free throw by Cincinnati though, USF got the ball back and was able to get a couple offensive rebounds before Jaleel Cousins made and missed a free throw making it a three point game with a little over seven seconds remaining. Gary Clark missed the front end of a one and one and gave USF a chance. Nehemias Morillo had a wide open three for USF and luckily for the Bearcats it missed off the front iron.
This game was all over the board for Cincinnati and was another addition to the up and down season they have been having. They were unable to make a field goal in the last 10:35 seconds of the game after grabbing a 12-point lead.
Their defense again stepped up and helped them to victory with the forced turnovers and a key intercepted pass by Caupain late. The energy seemed to be lacking horribly for Cincinnati the whole game until late on defense.
Caupain lead scoring for Cincinnati with 14 points as well as adding three steals and two assists. Gary Clark lead the team in rebounds with 11, as well as five points. Cincinnati was able to get three players in double figures with Gary Clark and Octavius Ellis each scoring 10.
Cincinnati shot 30% as a team as well as going 5-18 from three for 27%. They out-rebounded USF, 35-30, and had 11 assists and 10 steals. They had only 10 turnovers as a team compared to 21 by USF.
The Bulls shot 51% from the field and 2-of-9 from behind the arc for 22%. Their leading scorer was Jahmal McMurray with a game-high 16 points. Chris Perry was their second-leading scorer with eight points while Cousins led the team with eight rebounds and Morillo lead the team with three assists.
Although Cincinnati was able to pull out a win, it was not a pretty one late. With the win Cincinnati moves to 2-2 in conference and 12-5 overall. This team hopes to be able to put it all together offensively and defensively Wednesday against a good Houston team in Fifth Third Arena.