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WBB Game Preview: SMU at Cincinnati

Its rematch time.

Sam Greene/Cincinnati Enquirer

Despite being a rather solid team on the road this season, the Cincinnati Bearcats had a whole lot of trouble against SMU when the two teams met up on New Year’s Eve in Dallas. The 64-47 setback was just the second road loss in six tries for UC and also the last time the Bearcats lost before their current three-game winning streak.

On Tuesday they will get a chance to exact some revenge from the Mustangs, as the two teams clash at Fifth Third Arena.

Meet the Opponent...Again

When last they met, SMU was being powered by Alicia Froling and her paint domiance (17 points, 13 rebounds, six blocks) as well as the three-point shooting of reserve Devri Owens, who made 4-of-5 three-point shots in the first meeting of the season. You can expect more of the former and less of the latter this time around.

Froling is averaging a double-double on the season (15.1 PPG, 10.7 RPG) and leads the conference in rebounding while tied for third in blocks (1.5 BPG) with UC’s own Shanice Johnson. Froling wasn’t held in check by No. 1 UConn on Saturday, as she tallied 16 points, 12 rebounds and five rejections. However, it wasn’t enough as the Mustangs were annihilated to the tune of 88-48, facing a 26-2 deficit after the first quarter alone.

That loss was the third-straight for SMU (10-7, 1-3) which desperately needs to start getting some league wins on its side. Improved scoring from players like McKenzie Adams (10.5 PPG) and Kiara Perry would be a help in that regard. Perry has not scored in double figures in five-straight games and Adams had only seven points against UConn.

Finding Offense

A devastatingly awful offensive showing doomed UC to loss when it first took on SMU. You know when Shanice Johnson and Ana Owens combine for 10 points on 4-of-26 shooting you are in for a rough time. The Bearcats only made 23.4 percent of their shots from the field in that game with Bianca Quisenberry the only player to score in double figures (19 points) even as she shot 4-of-12 from the floor.

Johnson has been rolling of late and is coming off a 22-point effort against Memphis. She will have the unfortunate task of dealing with Froling in the paint, so help will be needed. Owens is usually the backcourt answer when Johnson has trouble, but she was held to only five points while missing all six of her shots from the field last time out against the Tigers. She also managed only three assists while turning the ball over five times. It was an uncharacteristic game from Owens, who is tied for fifth in the league in assists (4.1 PG), 13th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.2) and 12th in three-point field goal percentage (.345). She will need to be at the top of her game to take pressure off of Johnson.

Outlook

Having already eclipsed its win total from each of the past two seasons, UC has a shot to match its mark from the 2013-14 campaign on Tuesday. With Froling patrolling the interior it will be tough and the Bearcats will need big games from Owens and Quisenberry. Hopefully some home cooking will heat up the ‘Cats’ shooting touch and keep this one within range.