Survive. Its something you have to do during the long college basketball season. Its something the Cincinnati did this past week, a relatively tough stretch in the American Athletic Conference slate, as the Bearcats took on Houston (on the road) and SMU. They came away with two victories (the last one by the skin of their teeth) and are now 14-2 overall with a perfect mark in conference play (4-0). What players were most instrumental to this grueling, yet successful two-game stretch?
13. John Koz (LW 13)
Did not play in either game so he’ll stay put.
12. Jackson Bart (LW 12)
11. Zack Tobler (LW 11)
Ditto to that ditto.
10. Quadri Moore (LW 10)
Moore’s role on the team is going in reverse. After playing more than 10 minutes in three-straight games, including at Butler, Moore has played a total of eight minutes in league play, including four empty ones against SMU.
9. Nysier Brooks (LW 9)
Brooks played against Houston and SMU, but only for seven minutes combined. He got more work against the Cougars, playing five minutes and grabbing a rebound. Even in that limited time he still recorded a foul and has now had at least one in his last seven games, including his foul out against Tulane.
8. Justin Jenifer (LW 7)
The strides forward Jenifer seemed to be making in the first half of the season were nowhere to be seen this week. Jenifer was held scoreless across 18 total minutes against Houston and SMU. He did hand out three assists in the win over Houston, however.
7. Tre Scott (LW 6)
An increasing role for Scott was not in the cards this past week. After three-straight games of 20-minute efforts, Scott only played six minutes against Houston. He got in for 15 spins of the clock against SMU and sank 2-of-4 shots from the floor to go with two rebounds and a block. A solid, if not overwhelming showing.
6. Jarron Cumberland (LW 3)
The freshman only made 33.3 percent of his shots during the last two games, averaging four points per contest along the way. Although he finished with only six points against SMU, he nailed a critical three-pointer with less than five minutes to play.
Huge shot by @Clutchman_34! Wow. #Bearcats pic.twitter.com/lJnLIMvTA2— J. Scott Sewell (@jscottsewell) January 13, 2017
5. Jacob Evans (LW 2)
Winter’s chill got its clutches around Evans’ shooting touch. He did finish with 12 points against Houston, as well as five rebounds and three assists, but he only made 4-of-12 shots from the floor, including 1-of-5 from inside the arc. He was even less effective against SMU, ending a streak of seven games in double figures with a season-low two points on 1-of-10 shooting. However, Evans still managed to shake off the bad shooting to contribute in other ways, finishing with five rebounds and season-highs in assists (six) and blocks (two).
4. Kevin Johnson (LW 4)
Like Evans, Johnson also struggled to be extremely effective but mainly when he took shots closer to the hoop. He missed all seven of his two-point tries against Houston and SMU, but drilled 5-of-11 three-pointers combined in the two games. He has made at least two triples in five of the last six games and is shooting 46.7 percent from long distance during that time. Continued shooting like that gives UC more diverse offensive ability.
3. Kyle Washington (LW 8)
It was a nice return to form(ish) for Washington. Although he wasn’t posting double-doubles at will, Washington scored well in the paint, stretched the floor with some deep shots, while rebounding and blocking shots effectively. He netted 19 points to go with nine rebounds and two blocks against Houston then tallied 11 points, five boards and three blocks against the Mustangs. In that contest he also did some work as a distributor, recording three assists. He has had at least three dimes in two of the last three contests and has surpassed Gary Clark for the team lead in blocks (1.3 PG) by swatting at least one shot in five-straight outings.
2. Gary Clark (LW 1)
What more can you ask of Clark, who was a steady force in the paint as always against Houston and SMU. He also showed an ability to take shots from deep, which has usually been a rarity. Before playing Houston, Clark made made only two triples on the season, while attempting 13. He went 4-of-7 combined from three-point range during the last two games, and that goes along with an average of 14.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 blocks per game. In addition, his 15.8 game score during the two contests was the best mark on the team.
1. Troy Caupain (LW 5)
Even if Clark had the better analytical week, there is no denying that Caupain was the most critical player on the roster. His masterful performance against SMU alone carries him to the top spot. He knocked down a season-high five three-pointers on Thursday to tally 16 points all while grabbing seven rebounds and handing out six assists. Caupain has been excellent in conference play this season. Through four games he is averaging 10.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.3 assists per league test while splashing 55.6 percent from three-point range. UC is in the No. 1 spot in the AAC in large part because of him. That is enough to give him the No. 1 spot in these rankings.