An offensive eruption and easy victory greeted the Cincinnati Bearcats when it entered the 2016-17 season on Friday night, as they rode a big night from Jacob Evans to an 84-55 win over Brown.
They’ll hope to follow the same recipe on Monday when they host the Albany Great Danes in a second satellite contest of the Naismith Hall of Fame Tip-Off at Fifth Third Arena.
Meet the Opponent
A frequent NCAA Tournament participant in recent years, Albany just missed the big dance in 2016 after three-straight appearances. The Great Danes were still a formidable force in the America East Conference, running out to a 24-9 overall record and earning a spot in the College Basketball Invitational at year’s end.
This year’s team will be attempting to reconstruct that 20-win success despite the loss of its top three scorers from last season, as Peter Hooley (12.5 PPG), Evan Singletary (12.9 PPG) and Ray Sanders (12.1 PPG) graduated. That leaves Will Brown’s squad in the hands of Joe Cremo (10.5 PPG), who had a solid freshman campaign and was named America East Rookie of the Year last spring. Cremo, a 6’0” guard, was sensational in Albany’s 87-81 upset win against Penn State on Friday, scoring 22 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and handing out five assists. Forward Dallas Ennema (20 points) and guard David Nichols (19 points) were key cogs in the win as well.
Vote Evans/Washington 2020
In UC’s season opening win, Jacob Evans and Kyle Washington looked like superheros. And not the Ryan Reynolds in terrible green CGI garb kind either. Evans came out on fire after an injury limited him in the preseason, as he scored a game-high 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting. What was particularly impressive was the variety of ways he scored, particularly with the DEEP threes he took, often taking a pass and knocking down shots in rhythm. He has scored at least 20 points in his last two games and is living up to the hype that had him pegged as the best offensive player to come to UC in years.
Don’t forget about Washington, though. The NC State transfer was obviously eager to get on the floor after sitting out last season. He made an impact all over the stat sheet in the victory, tallying 16 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Working the Glass
With Washington leading the way, and Gary Clark adding 14 points and nine rebounds, UC owned the paint and the boards against Brown. With a clear height advantage, the Bearcats had a 43-23 edge in rebounds and outscored the Bears 48-14 in the paint. Albany managed a similar rebounding advantage against Penn State (43-26), but without any real towering bigs (6’8” Mike Rowley is one of only two players on the roster that is taller than 6’6”) the Great Danes could be in trouble against the Bearcats. UC should be well positioned to feed the interior and bang out a win by dominating around the basket.
The satellite games of the Tip-Off are over for UC after tonight. The Bearcats will take part in the real deal when it plays next, as it faces No. 23 Rhode Island in a stiff early season test next Saturday at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. A potential matchup against No. 1 Duke could come after that, depending on how the weekend shakes out.