Both teams entered the game seemingly going in different directions. Cincinnati had won four straight games, pulling themselves within striking distance of SMU in the conference rankings. Memphis, on the other hand, entered the game coming off a blowout loss to UConn, their third loss in their last four games.
However, from the opening tip, Memphis came out firing and beat the Bearcats, 63-59, behind 20 points and 11 rebounds apiece from Shaq Goodwin and Dedric Lawson.
Memphis opened the game moving the ball around well, setting up easy layups and knocking down three-pointers. In a stroke of foreshadowing, Lawson and Goodwin combined for 16 of the Tigers first 21 points, as Memphis opened the game on a 21-9 run.
To Cincinnati's credit, the Bearcats began to claw their way back, following a Mick Cronin timeout. Cincinnati would pull within seven with just under eight minutes remaining in the half. Still, the Bearcats couldn't stop Goodwin and Trashon Burrell as they neared the break. Burrell, who scored 24 points in their previous matchup, only scored nine points, but was all over the stat sheet with eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block. Memphis would enter halftime leading the Bearcats, 39-24.
Cincinnati has been resilient all season with nearly every game characterized by scoring runs. This game was no different. Facing a 15-point deficit, Cincinnati leaned on Troy Caupain, Octavius Ellis and Gary Clark as the Bearcats scored eight points unanswered to open the second half.
With Memphis on their heels, Cincinnati slowly came back, despite some rough shooting numbers as a team. The Bearcats would only connect on 21-of-58 (36.2%) of their shots and shoot a paltry 5-of-22 (22.7%) from three. Still, with just under two minutes remaining, the Bearcats only trailed by one point, with Memphis leading 56-55.
Avery Woodson, who scored 18 points in their first matchup, came out of the Memphis timeout and hit a three-pointer to put the Tigers up 59-55 with 1:20 remaining. Cincinnati and Memphis would trade possessions without scoring, leaving the Bearcats with 21 seconds and the ball. Jacob Evans would hit a layup to close the gap to two, but Memphis would hit their free throws as Cincinnati would fall, 63-59.
Caupain scored 17 points and dished out six assists to lead the Bearcats. Clark continued his dominant run as of late, scoring 15 points and bringing down 14 rebounds, earning another double-double. He also had four blocks.
Still, Memphis dominated the paint, out-rebounding the Bearcats 49-38. Goodwin and Lawson had seven offensive rebounds apiece (of their 11) to go along with 20 points each. Memphis hit 5-of-16 (31.3%) from beyond the arc. Cincinnati actually outshot Memphis from the field as the Tigers hit 20-of-66 (30.3%) on field goals.
Cincinnati drops to 17-7 (7-4) on the season. Cincinnati next plays in Orlando, Florida against UCF on Tuesday, February 9.