After a tight first half, the Cincinnati Bearcats of the past couple weeks showed up to down the South Florida Bulls, 88-57. Six Bearcats reached double-digit point totals, while Troy Caupain and Gary Clark each earned double-doubles. Caupain finished the game with 18 points and 10 assists while Clark scored 16 points and brought down 13 rebounds. The win moves Cincinnati to 17-6 on the season with a 7-3 record in the American Athletic Conference.
The first half of this game was a little tight. Jahmal McMurray was putting on a show in the early-going, hitting contested shot after contested shot. He scored 11 points in the first half, on 4-of-8 shooting from the field with one three-pointer. His quick start helped the Bulls take an 18-12 lead at the midway point in the half. Caupain would respond with a three-pointer, spearheading a 14-3 run, giving the Bearcats a 26-21 lead with four minutes remaining until the break.
As the Bulls pulled back to a tie game with just a minute in the half, Cincinnati made a quick run, signaling the end for South Florida. Caupain hit his third of four three pointers, giving Cincinnati a 32-29 lead. Farad Cobb would then slyly steal the following inbounds pass and finish the layup. A Clark layup in the closing seconds gave the Bearcats the 36-29 lead heading into halftime, capping off a 7-0 run.
Cincinnati's defense was brutal in the first half, forcing the Bulls to commit 12 turnovers. Six of those turnovers were Cincinnati steals, as the Bearcats were in the passing lanes throughout. Caupain and Clark had nine and eight points, respectively, at the break.
The second half began as the first half ended, with Cincinnati extending their lead on a Cobb three-pointer. After a South Florida basket, the Bearcats would score another five unanswered points, giving Cincinnati a 44-31 lead. At that point, the game was all but over. South Florida couldn't protect the ball from the disruptive Cincinnati defense, as the Bearcats would end up forcing the Bulls into 21 turnovers on the game.
Cincinnati continued to pile it on, leading by 27 points with nearly 12 minutes remaining. The Bearcats would lead by as many as 33 points as the Bearcats outscored the Bulls, 52-28 in the second half. Cincinnati would ultimately win convincingly, 88-57.
Caupain and Clark owned the most impressive Cincinnati box scores, but Octavius Ellis, Farad Cobb, Coreontae DeBerry and Jacob Evans all reached double-digits in scoring. As you might expect, Caupain's 10 assists led the Bearcats, while Clark's 13 rebounds led the team in that category. It is also worth mentioning that after a injury scare against UConn, Shaq Thomas did play a bit against the Bulls. He only scored one point on a free throw attempt, but it's good to see him out on the court.
Cincinnati scored on 29-of-64 (45.3%) from the field while hitting 10-of-29 (34.5%) from three. The Bearcats also had an impressive showing from the line, hitting 20-of-25 (80%) free throw attempts. Meanwhile, South Florida was limited to 20-of-51 (39.2%) from the field by the Cincinnati defense. The Bulls could only knock down 3-of-15 (20%) from deep. Cincinnati out "assisted" South Florida 21-5 and had 11 steals compared to one for the Bulls.
For South Florida, McMurray finished with 17 points, as Cincinnati buckled down on him in the second half. Jaleel Cousins finished with a double-double, grabbing 10 rebounds and scoring 10 points.
Cincinnati has a quick turn around as they hit the road to play Memphis Saturday. The game figures to potentially play a huge role in the conference standings.