While most of Ohio was watching the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines locked in an epic battle for a berth in the College Football Playoff, a gym full of empty seats and a smattering of diehard Bearcats fans watched Cincinnati improve to 5-1 with a 91-68 rout of the Lipscomb Bisons.
Kyle Washington scored 15 points, Jacob Evans netted 14 and Troy Caupain added eight points along with five rebounds and five assists, coming just short of the 11 he needed to become the 50th UC basketball player to reach 1,000 career points. He’ll have another shot at the mark Thursday when the Bearcats visit No. 21 Iowa State.
The Bearcats jumped out to a 17-2 lead in the first six and a half minutes and withstood a first half run by the Bisons to eventually take a 40-28 lead into halftime. The Bisons cut the lead to 27-21 with 5:30 remaining in the half when UC went into a mini scoring drought, but a steal followed by a basket and foul for Jacob Evans ended the drought and jump-started the Bearcats offense again. The Bearcats then used a 20-6 run over a five minute stretch in the second half to put the Bisons away for good.
UC suffered a major injury scare early in the game when junior Gary Clark went down with an apparent sprained ankle. He was helped off the floor, unable to put any weight on the injured leg. He never returned to the floor and the severity of the injury wasn’t announced by the end of the game.
The loss of Clark meant extra playing time in the second half for several of the Bearcats young players including Jarron Cumberland who responded with the best game of his short career. Cumberland scored 17 points with 11 of them coming in the second half, making 8-of-10 free throws along the way. Freshman Tre Scott also made his presence felt by filling up the stat sheet with nine points, nine rebounds, five assists and five blocks. If Clark misses serious time, Scott may be the next man up. His effort today provides hope that the drop-off won’t be too severe.
Lipscomb was led by sophomore guard Garrison Mathews, who scored 19 points and added seven rebounds and two assists. The Bisons shot 27 three pointers, but only connected on seven. This was their fourth straight loss and largest margin of defeat of the season. Their next game is against Belmont in the Battle of the Boulevard; a game that has been cited as one of the best rivalries in college basketball that few people know about.
UC has their own big game to prepare for next week when they travel to Ames, Iowa to take on the currently undefeated and 21st-ranked Iowa State Cyclones. This is a rematch from last season when Iowa State beat the Bearcats 81-79 at Fifth Third Arena. After their loss to Rhode Island earlier this year and with very few ranked opponents on the rest of the schedule, the Bearcats will need to capitalize on this opportunity to knock off a ranked team and help their tournament seeding come March.