There were a lot of reasons why the Cincinnati Bearcats beat the Memphis Tigers on Saturday. But there were also a lot of reasons that they didn’t rout Memphis as bad as they did back on Dec. 31. You can blame it on the road atmosphere, the officials or whatever, but the game finished with UC on top and that’s what matters.
Before we get into the more muddy aspects of the game, let’s highlight the positives in this one. First off, the Bearcats worked extremely hard on the glass. Clearly Mick Cronin has instructed his players to attack the boards, as after most shots there were two or three Bearcats contending for the rebound. Kyle Washington was the most effective, as he had 10 boards, while Gary Clark snagged nine. With their top frontcourt players producing at a high level, the Bearcats earned a 39-31 edge on the glass, which made a major difference.
Also helping to boost UC over the top was its shooting from beyond the arc. While a team that doesn’t usually eliminate foes by sniping, the Bearcats really needed to splash threes to overcome some extremely cold offensive stretches. Cane Broome, Trevor Moore and Jacob Evans each knocked down two triples, as the Bearcats went 8-of-18 from distance while holding Memphis to a 3-of-17 success rate.
Moore is apparently built to shoot against the Tigers. He had 12 points and nailed three treys when they met up earlier this season, and his offensive rating of 179 was the highest of any Bearcat that played at least 10 minutes on Saturday. The more of Moore we see, the more promising his future looks, as he has not only shown an ability to knock down shots, but a tenacity on defense that will serve him well going forward.
Speaking of defense, the Bearcats were strong once again in that category. That’s pretty obvious since they allowed only 48 points. They have surrendered fewer than 50 points in six games this season and in three of the last four contests. They did it against Memphis with good, old fashioned shot contesting. Memphis made a paltry 14-of-45 field goal tries (31.1 percent), while managing only seven field goals in each half.
But we would be irresponsible to mention UC’s defensive efforts without discussing how much they were penalized. With 27 fouls called, the Bearcats not only allowed the Tigers plenty of free point opportunities, but also hampered their own ability to play their stars. Jacob Evans, who fouled out in the second half, only played 20 minutes, which is a full 10 minutes below his season average (30.4 MPG). The Tigers weren’t the most efficient free throw shooters (17-of-29), but neither were the Bearcats (10-of-19). Clark was guilty of most of that, as he attempted 13 freebies and only made seven. To be fair, its unclear how much the injury he suffered in first half hampered his efforts.
The free throw line was not the only spot where the Bearcats suffered a disadvantage. Surprisingly, the Tigers actually outscored their guests in the paint (22-20) and in points off turnovers (13-10). That doesn’t usually happen to UC, so it really made the three-point shooting stand out as the big difference in this one.
As full 40-minute experiences go, this was not the wire-to-wire blowout that the Bearcats enjoyed against Memphis in the conference opener. But the fact that so much went wrong and they still won by 14 points shows how good this team is. We’re on to Houston.
Best Individual Stat Line
Moore’s stat line may not stand out a ton, but the fact that he had eight points on 2-of-4 shooting and three rebounds while not turning the ball over once was a nice boost. That’s without mentioning his .820 true shooting percentage or .750 effective field goal percentage. The Bearcats needed somebody outside the starting lineup and Cane Broome to step up in this one. Moore did just that.