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Clark Refuses to Let Bearcats Lose Ugly Affair with UCF

The Knights found themselves with a few problems, none bigger than the double-double posted by Gary Clark.

NCAA Basketball: Cincinnati at Central Florida Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Every game the Cincinnati Bearcats play gives us yet another reason to appreciate Gary Clark. In Tuesday’s road test against the UCF Knights, Clark’s efforts were the only things to appreciate. The Bearcats (16-2, 5-0 American Athletic Conference) did beat the Knights, but it was in a brutally sluggish game that ended in a 49-38 final for the visitors. If not for Clark, things could have been a lot worse.

The senior forward finished with game-highs in points (17) and rebounds (14), doing so while playing a more assertive role than usual, as he took 15 shots. Jacob Evans (10 points) was the only other Bearcat to take more than 10 shots, but he hit a ghastly 23.1 percent (3-for-13) of those. Meanwhile, the Knights (12-6, 3-3) did not have a single double digit scorer

This wasn’t entirely surprising. We knew that both the Bearcats and Knights were teams that crawl on offense and turn up the heat on defense. Entering tonight’s game, UC ranked 292nd in the country in adjusted tempo, while UCF ranked 303rd. On top of that, they were No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, in adjusted defense. Matching them up gave us one of the slowest and least effective offensive games of the season. But the pace wasn’t the only problem. The Bearcats only made 35.8 percent of their shots, and most of those came after intermission, as they trailed 19-15 at the break. The Knights knocked down a measly 30 percent of their field goal tries and also put forth a putrid effort at the foul line (3-of-10).

Despite the lack of aesthetic appeal, this was UC’s ninth-straight win. Let’s just give thanks that Clark was there to make that happen and hope he gets a bit more help in UC’s next game on Saturday against East Carolina.