Conference games are usually pegged as tough contests, especially against a team like Memphis, which has a relatively recent history of success. Yesterday, the Cincinnati Bearcats did not endure such an affair in their American Athletic Conference opener, as they walloped the Tigers 82-48.
The game was one that got out of hand quickly and that’s thanks to a rather incredible first half from the Bearcats. After the first 20 minutes were finished, UC led 35-16, marking a performance that can only be described as dominant. In that first half, the Bearcats hounded the Tigers up and down the floor, holding them to only seven field goals on 25.9 percent shooting. That included a 2-of-12 “success” rate from long range. In addition to the heavy defensive pressure, the Bearcats also outscored the Tigers 18-8 in the paint and 15-4 in second chance points. That paint scoring dominance continued throughout (36-24).
When examining the game outside of just the first half snapshot, the Bearcats’ biggest advantage was in ball movement. They were unselfish and constantly looked for the open man or made the extra pass. UC assisted on 23 of its 32 field goals. Meanwhile, Memphis, which was already struggling to make shots also didn’t help themselves assist-wise, with only six dimes over the entire 40 minutes. Clogging passing lanes was as much a part of UC’s defensive success as keeping pressure on shooters.
Then there was the rebounding advantage. In fact, the Bearcats had more defensive boards (31) than the Tigers had total rebounds (30) in the first half. That helped produce a 45-30 advantage for the Bearcats overall.
While we’re on the subject of rebounds, the Bearcats had plenty of chances since they kept Memphis from getting into a rhythm offensively, but they limited their own offensive rebounding chances by shooting so efficiently. That’s a good thing. They hit 46.7 percent of their shots in the first half and heated up to 58.1 percent shooting in the final 20 minutes. Along the way they drilled 9-of-18 shots from beyond the arc. Trevor Moore was the most lethal sharp shooter, sinking 3-of-6 triples while Jacob Evans and Jarron Cumberland each contributed two.
Shooting in the flow of the offense was obviously not a problem. Where the Bearcats did have an issue was at the free throw line. It didn’t end up making much of an impact on the outcome, of course, but they can’t afford to make only 9-of-17 freebies very often.
Best Individual Stat Line
Cumberland gets the honor for this one and not just because he led the team with 15 points. In addition to that he produced eight rebounds, four assists and two steals, all while having himself an efficiency party (6-of-9 from the floor, 2-of-3 from three).