Playing a team that is inside KenPom’s top 250 is a little tougher than not doing that. That’s not breaking news, but it was a lesson that was reinforced on Monday. After dominating in its first three games of the season, the Cincinnati Bearcats stumbled but survived in a 73-67 win over the Buffalo Bulls in the first round of the Cayman Islands Classic.
The Bearcats (4-0) only made 39.6 percent of their shots from the floor and were outscored 30-12 from beyond the arc and 15-11 in points off of turnovers. Luckily, Gary Clark is on a business trip, as he posted 24 points and 14 rebounds, while making 11-of-13 free throw attempts. Clark’s aggressive work on offense helped the Bearcats take a 27-11 edge on points from the foul line.
Jarron Cumberland added 14 points in support, but he turned the ball over seven times while Kyle Washington netted 13 points. No other player was in double figures and that includes Jacob Evans and Cane Broome. In fact, Broome only had two points across 12 minutes.
For Buffalo, which is ranked No. 139 by KenPom, CJ Massinburg tallied 29 points and 10 rebounds, while draining four three-pointers. Jeremy Harris had 17 points, but needed 20 shots to get there. The Bulls were held to 35.4 percent shooting by the Bearcats, who led by as many as 15 points but never completely ran away.
UC will be back in action today when it faces Richmond in one of two semifinals.