The Cincinnati Bearcats have already exceeded expectations for this season. Well, at least the expectations of the general public. After back-to-back eight-win campaigns there was not much belief that they could contend in the American Athletic Conference. Through three games of league play that assertion has been proven false and on Saturday the Bearcats will look to keep proving doubters wrong when they visit the Memphis Tigers.
Meet the Opponent
Memphis (8-8, 1-2 AAC) lost its first two conference games against Temple and Tulsa, but managed to escape with a 65-62 victory against UCF when it last hit the floor. This matchup is a return for the Tigers, who are in the midst of a five-game stretch when they will play just once on their home floor. With a 6-3 mark at home and a 2-5 record in away and neutral site contests, getting back should provide a boost.
What will not provide a boost is continued poor offensive efforts, as Memphis is tied with SMU as the lowest scoring team in the AAC (60.8 PPG). The low scoring comes despite middle of the road efficiency overall, as the Tigers rank sixth in the league in field goal percentage (.409). However, when they can’t score close to the rim, the Tigers struggle to find success of any kind, ranking second to last in the AAC in three-point shooting (.270).
Cheyenne Creighton is the team’s offensive leader, scoring 15.2 points per game while also doing the most work on the glass (7.7 RPG). In the win over UCF, Creighton only had four boards, but she notched 16 points, handed out three assists and blocked two shots. Her matchup down low with UC’s Shanice Johnson will go a long way in deciding this contest.
Outside of Creighton, Brea Elmore and Taylor Williams are the straws that stir the drink. Elmore (13.6 PPG) leads the way in steals and is the team’s best three-point shooter, netting 35.8 percent from long range. She had 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting against UCF. Williams is averaging 11.6 points per game and has made more triples than anyone else on the team (22) but she also leads the team in turnovers (44).
Owens Hot Streak
New Years Eve was not a great day for Ana Owens. The UC guard scored only four points on 2-of-16 shooting in UC’s 64-47 loss to SMU. She has bounced back in a major way since, scoring 42 points combined during the last two games, while hitting six three-pointers in that time. She also posted her first double-double against Houston, scoring 22 points to go with 12 assists. Owens is fifth in the conference in assists (4.2 APG). She is also 11th in the league in three-point shooting (.357) and was just named to the AAC weekly honor roll.
Prepare for Low Scores
Although UC just put up 85 points on Houston, don’t expect either of these teams to rack up huge point totals. The Bearcats are allowing only 58.4 points per game this season and Memphis is only a little worse (61.7 PPG). The Bearcats have scored 80 or more points only five times this season and fallen below 60 points four times. Memphis has been even lower scoring, with a season-high of 75 points, which was just one of two games in which it has gotten above the 70-point plateau.
With homecourt on its side and a season sweep of the Bearcats a year ago, Memphis might have a slight edge in this one. However, UC has fought to respectability in away contests this season (3-2) and is clearly playing a better brand of basketball. That means Owens, Johnson and company have a real shot at earning a critical win.