Prior to Saturday afternoon’s game against Fairleigh Dickinson, Zach Tobler - the Bearcats version of the human victory cigar - had played a total of 48 minutes in 27 games over three and a half years as a Cincinnati Bearcat.
He played a career-high six minutes on Saturday and the Bearcats pummeled Fairleigh Dickinson 119-68, setting an American Athletic Conference record for points scored. The previous record was 116, set by Rutgers back in 2013.
Kevin Johnson led the way with a career-high 18 points in just 25 minutes, and six other Bearcats joined him in double figures. It was the most lopsided win of the season and it came directly after the Bearcats’ previous most lopsided win of the season when they beat Texas Southern by 38 points earlier in the week.
Cincinnati used a 31-3 run that spanned just nine minutes of game time to open up a big lead in the first half. he Bearcats went to halftime with a 65-26 lead, shooting 67.6% from the field. It was the highest scoring half and highest scoring game of the Mick Cronin era.
It was more of the same in the second half, as the bench eclipsed their season-high point total of 51 - also set earlier in the week - with 56 combined points. Both Justin Jenifer and Jarron Cumberland were in double figures and each looked the most comfortable they have all season. Despite missing a couple of early shots, Cumberland recovered to hit three three-pointers, and added four rebounds and five assists.
The Bearcats won in nearly every facet of the game, with the lone exception of free throw shooting. As expected, Fairleigh Dickinson fouled early and often, but Cincinnati shot just 19-29 (65.5%) from the free throw line. It’s becoming a trend at this point, with the Bearcats struggling at the free throw line in every game since they faced Iowa State.
Kyle Washington started the game for Cincinnati, one game removed from being benched by coach Cronin for a lack of effort in practice. He scored 12 points and added eight rebounds in 21 minutes. However, he didn’t look entirely comfortable and turned the ball over five times. He hasn’t played more than 25 minutes in six of the last seven games and appears a little rusty. Bearcats fans saw what he was capable of early in the season, and hope to see that return when conference play begins on Dec. 28.
The Bearcats last game before then will be on Thursday against Marshall. Marshall is 6-3 on the season, but have two games remaining before facing Cincinnati. Expect a slightly more competitive game, but another relatively easy night for the Bearcats.