Its been a busy Saturday for the Cincinnati Bearcats athletic program. Things started off on a high note as Luke Fickell, the successor to Tommy Tuberville, was introduced as the next head coach and by all accounts (this writer’s included), he nailed the introductory press conference.
All that came before the 22nd-ranked Bearcats of the basketball persuasion met up with No. 16 Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Unfortunately, Fickell’s press conference was the highlight of the day as UC fell 75-65 to the Bulldogs.
The loss was a difficult one to take based on the performances of Troy Caupain and Gary Clark. The two stalwarts of the roster put together two exceptional efforts, only to have them wasted in a loss. Caupain scored 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting to go with five rebounds and two assists. Clark chimed in with 16 points (8-of-14 from the field) and 12 rebounds.
However, the rest of the roster struggled to find any sort of success offensively, shooting a combined 10-of-37 from the floor. Most alarming was the difficulty with which Kyle Washington and Jacob Evans had getting the ball in the basket. It was the first down game for Washington, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder. Foul trouble limited him and he eventually fouled out after 19 minutes of gameplay. In that time he only managed seven points on 2-of-8 shooting, but even worse, he didn’t get a single rebound. It was the first time the 6’9” forward was held below 10 points and obviously it was a season-low on the glass.
As for Evans, after a hot start to the year, he has been regressing, failing to score at a level that was expected. Coming off his first single-digit point outing last week against Bowling Green, Evans did manage a respectable 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting. Still, Evans is averaging 11.6 points per game over the last five contests following a 20.8 average in the first four matchups.
Kevin Johnson and Jarron Cumberland each scored four points (on a combined 3-of-12 shooting) to make up the rest of UC’s offensive output.
UC did have a slight edge in rebounds (35-34) and outscored Butler in the paint (32-26) but aggressive defense led to too many fouls, which accounted for a 21-7 scoring deficit in points from the foul line. It also didn’t help that the Bearcats only knocked down 54 percent of their free throws.
Kelan Martin scored 20 points to lead Butler (9-1) and Andrew Chrabascz put together 12 points, five assists and four rebounds even if he did only make 3-of-10 shots from the floor.
UC, still a respectable 7-2 on the season, is still in good standing, with its two losses coming against ranked opponents, but it was nevertheless a disappointment. Next up, the Bearcats will wipe the slate clean on Tuesday when they kick off a three-game homestand with a matchup against Texas Southern.