All five starters scored in double figures, and Cincinnati extended its winning streak to six games with a 67-58 victory over Houston on Saturday night. Kyle Washington led the way for Cincinnati, scoring 19 points and adding nine rebounds in the victory. It was Washington’s most complete performance since the Bearcats faced Bowling Green back on Dec. 4.
The Bearcats (13-2, 3-0 American Athletic Conference) never trailed in what turned out to be a relatively easy win as far as conference road games are concerned. Jacob Evans started the scoring with the first of what would be 10 made three pointers for Cincinnati. It was the second straight game that the Bearcats reached double digits in three pointers.
The Bearcats quickly stretched the lead to 26-15 with just under seven minutes remaining in the first half thanks to a Gary Clark three pointer. Cincinnati would only hit one more shot from the field in the rest of the half, allowing Houston to cut the lead to 30-25 before the break.
That one shot was a beauty though.
So smooth #Bearcats pic.twitter.com/wcS3xHEGT7— J. Scott Sewell (@jscottsewell) January 8, 2017
The second half was all Washington, who scored 10 straight points over three minutes to extend the lead to 45-34. That was all the separation the Bearcats needed, and Houston never fully recovered.
The Cougars (12-4, 3-1) can blame their loss on an especially poor shooting night from three point range. Houston hit just 3-of-19 from behind the line, after hitting of 7-of-13 against Tulsa earlier in the week. The Bearcats are holding AAC teams to just 11-of-66 (16.7 percent) from three point range over their three conference games.
Cincinnati passed the ball especially well, racking up 15 assists compared to just six for Houston. An especially odd stat considering Houston was the home team, and score keepers are traditionally generous to their home team.
One of the passing highlights came after Troy Caupain left the game temporarily with an apparent ankle injury. Justin Jenifer subbed in and immediately connected with Clark on full court pass and dunk.
Jenifer to Clark! #Bearcats pic.twitter.com/IXs8CwCU3P— J. Scott Sewell (@jscottsewell) January 8, 2017
Later in the game, after Caupain had returned, he connected with Washington on a slick pass inside for an easy basket.
Awesome pass from Caupain, but watch Kyle get into position for the pass. # #Bearcats pic.twitter.com/OHK6sJnCqb— J. Scott Sewell (@jscottsewell) January 8, 2017
After several big games in a row, the Bearcats bench unit disappeared entirely against Houston. Jarron Cumberland scored the only two points of the night for bench, and the entire unit only took five shots all game.
The Bearcats hit just 13-of-21 free throws, and missed several down the stretch that could’ve put the game away more convincingly, with Houston actually cutting the lead to 64-58 with 25 seconds remaining.
Regardless, the Bearcats ultimately got a big win on the road against a tough conference opponent. Next up is SMU at Fifth Third Arena on Thursday. The Mustangs are unquestionably the second best team in the conference, and will be putting a 10-game winning streak on the line when they visit the Bearcats.