The Bearcats were out in Dallas, Texas today as they squared off against No. 15 SMU in the Moody Coliseum with hopes of handing the Mustangs their first loss of the season. Unfortunately, the Cincinnati effort wasn't enough as they came up short by a final score of 59-57. With the loss, the Bearcats move to 11-5 on the year and 1-2 within the conference. They'll look to bounce back on Sunday against South Florida. As for SMU, the victory boosts their record to a flawless 14-0 on the year with the Knights of Central Florida on deck.
In the first half, the big story was when SMU guard Sterling Brown, who averages 9.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.5 assists, was ejected. Brown departed from the bench during a scrum underneath the home teams basket between the two programs. They loss of Brown left the Mustangs with just six players and the Bearcats did enough to take advantage and head into the intermission with a 32-30 lead.
Troy Caupain, Farad Cobb, and Gary Clark combined for 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting in the first half of play with three of the makes coming from three-point range. The Bearcats also received some scoring help off of the bench from Coreontae DeBerry and Kevin Johnson. DeBerry, despite some foul issues, contributed with four points and three boards in the first 20 minutes. As for Johnson, he confidently knocked down both of his attempts and added five points.
Early in the second half, it was the Farad Cobb show. Cobb scored the first 12 points in the half for Cincinnati by drilling four attempts from three-point land. Then Clark promptly made his mark on the game as his solid second half effort and ultimate double-double helped push the Bearcats lead to five.
However, SMU senior guard Nic Moore began to take things over for the Mustangs and gave his team the lead with less than one minute to go. After two makes from Octavius Ellis at the free throw line to put UC back in front, SMU responded with a tip-in off of a missed jump shot. Caupain aggressively attacked the rim in hopes of answering but Jordan Tolbert denied the attempt. Ben Moore went to the foul line and made just one of the two attempts to give the Mustangs a two point lead. Farad Cobb went for the game-winning three-pointer, but it did not fall and the thin SMU squad was able to walk away victorious thanks to an 11-2 run to finish the game.
Cincinnati latest loss adds to the Bearcats season of tight losses to ranked teams. While Cincinnati played well for stretches, the defense couldn't buckle down at the end of the game and close out the game. The Bearcats will look to get back in the win column on Saturday against USF. Cincinnati still figures into postseason play discussion, but with yet another loss to a ranked opponent, the Bearcats will need to string together a number of wins in conference play to improve their resume.