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Game Preview: No. 23 Cincinnati Bearcats at Temple Owls

After just squeezing by Marshall, UC will look to open conference play with a win.

NCAA Basketball: Cincinnati at Temple Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bearcats’ last contest came down to the final seconds and ended when Troy Caupain grabbed his own rebound and hit a floater to put UC up by two with .7 seconds left to beat the Marshall Thundering Herd. UC's game against Marshall was very nerve racking as the 'Cats were down basically the entire game due to Marshall's outrageous 17 made three-pointers. The Herd gave UC a lot of problems, but the Bearcats battled the entire way and got the job done, giving them a major confidence boost and momentum swing.

They will hope to build on that tonight when they play in their American Athletic Conference opener at Temple.

Get to Know the Opponent

Temple enters Wednesday’s game against UC with a 9-4 record, with two of those wins coming against ranked opponents. The Owls main threat on the court is their large forward, a 6’10” 220 pound junior named Obi Enechionyia, who uses his tremendous size to dominate on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. He has put up 16.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. Don't let his size fool you either, the big man can also hit the deep ball, shooting 44.9% from behind the three-point arc this season.

Outside of Enechionyia, the Owls haven't found much help. Shizz Alston Jr. and Daniel Dingle have been the only other consistent scoring threats on the court, with 12.6 and 11.9 points per game, respectively. Freshman guard Alani Moore II has come around as of late, putting up a season high 26 points in Temple's last contest against Yale, but his inexperience will be hard to trust going up against UC. Quinton Rose, another freshman, is also capable of being a dangerous force. He has scored in double figures in seven games this season including a career-high 26 points in Temple’s upset of Florida State at the end of November. Enechionyia will need to be on his game for Temple to win this one, but the production of the talent around him needs to be kept in check as well.

Clark, Three-Point Defense Will be the Key

Gary Clark was last year’s conference defensive player of the year, and with conference play to start back up again, expect to see a continued resurgence in Clark’s game. He started this year slow but has been picking up speed, culminating in a big game against Marshall where he posted 26 points and 10 rebounds. Clark will have to control the low post on both sides of the ball to stop Enechionyia and anyone else who ventures into the paint. Clark, and the Bearcats as a team, will also have to defend the arc well because the Owls are a much better team from distance than in close. They rank 63rd in the country in three-point shooting (.385 percent) and 309th in two-point field goal percentage (.449). Last year, it was Temple’s ability to sink long range shots that led to a pair of Bearcat defeats.

The Prediction

I think the Bearcats get a win at Temple on Wednesday night. I think the unexpected close game against Marshall will keep UC on its toes and ready for anything. I expect big games from Gary Clark, Jacob Evans, and wouldn’t be surprised to see Jarron Cumberland turn some heads as his role has become larger. Welcome to conference play, Bearcat fans, the journey to the tourney begins in earnest tonight.