Yesterday the Cincinnati Bearcats lost a basketball game. It was the first time they had lost a basketball game since Dec. 10. That means they went 64 days between losses. That is more than two months. Its a heck of a long time to go without losing. It doesn’t help that yesterday UC coughed up a lead, Troy Caupain played terribly and the bench was practically non-existent. Because of all that, yesterday’s 60-51 setback to SMU seems like a disaster.
Just take a moment and breathe for me. Deep breaths. Losing sucks. We all know that, but losing one regular season game doesn’t end the campaign. That’s just science.
Before you scream, “Why shouldn’t I panic, you moron?!”, just hear me out.
First, SMU is a good team. A very good team even. Following yesterday’s win, the Mustangs rank No. 12 according to KenPom, ranking 21st in adjusted offense (116.6) and 13th in adjusted defense (92.3). They have won eight games in a row, are 15-0 at home, now have a half game lead on the Bearcats in the American Athletic Conference standings and just jumped six spots in the AP poll.
What does this all mean? It means UC lost to a really good team on the road. UC is still a really good team itself. Really good teams lose to other really good teams all the time, especially on the road. For example, then No. 5 Oregon lost to then No. 10 UCLA in Los Angeles last Thursday. Does that mean the Ducks are now finished? Absolutely not. Neither are the Bearcats.
Now for those worried about Caupain, please take some time to gather your senses. The senior point guard picked a terrible time to go ice cold for sure, but he’s not going to go 0-for-7 from the field very often, even against strong teams. Remember, this is the same player who had 22 points at Butler, a team the NCAA Tournament selection committee pegged as a top four seed over the weekend. Plus there was that whole 16-point showing against Xavier, another NCAA Tournament bound team. Caupain played a bad game and at a really inopportune time, but he will be fine.
Caupain’s cold shooting infected the entire team in the second half against SMU, when UC made only 25.9 percent from the floor. That was partially due to too heavy a reliance on the three-point shot, as 17 of the Bearcats’ 27 shots in the final 20 minutes came from distance. That is something that they can identify and work on. Its doubtful Mick Cronin will see the box score and not make adjustments during the next few practices.
In all what we need to remember is that losses are going to happen during a college basketball season. The Bearcats aren’t the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers, the last team to go undefeated for an entire year. They are still 22-3 overall and well on pace for the Big Dance. Losing to SMU hurts their AAC title hopes for sure, but it doesn’t delete them from existence. UC will just have to bounce back from this and play at a higher level. We have much more evidence of them doing that than the opposite this season, even if yesterday looms larger in our minds.