clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Game Preview: No. 19 Cincinnati Bearcats at Temple Owls

In North Philadelphia...

NCAA Basketball: Cincinnati at Temple Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

We’re going to start today with some somewhat disappointing but expected news. The No. 19 Cincinnati Bearcats are not going to beat every team in the American Athletic Conference by 34 points. That may be what happened against the Memphis Tigers on Sunday, but its not going to be the norm.

Now that we’ve covered that obvious fact, let me welcome you to game day, as the Bearcats will be back in action tonight in Philadelphia against the Temple Owls at the Liacouras Center. With wins in five-straight games and a beautifully dominant open to conference play, UC is primed to keep the good times going, unless the always cagey Owls have something to say about that.

Who are the Temple Owls?

Temple (7-6, 0-2 American Athletic Conference) has been struggling recently. With losses in three-straight and four of its last five games, Fran Dunphy’s team is hovering around .500 rather than challenging for the top of the AAC pile. Speaking of, the Owls have had a pretty disastrous start to conference play. While they were not blown out like Memphis, they dropped games to Tulane (85-75) and Houston (76-73) in their first two league tests, with the latter coming on the road

Dunphy runs a pretty tight ship for the Owls, relying heavily on a small rotation of players. The most important contributors are swingman Quinton Rose, who leads the team in scoring (16.5 PPG); Shizz Alston Jr., who scored a team-high 18 points against Houston and Obi Enechionyia, who is the third-most potent scorer on the roster despite shooting just .383/.323/.875. Enechionyia’s struggles have really dragged the team down, as he takes an average of 10.2 shots per game but has failed to connect at an efficient rate.

Even with Enechionyia’s shooting woes, the Owls have been a better offensive team than a defensive one. Ranked 50th in the country in adjusted offense, the Owls can have enough offensive efficiency to compete with most teams in the American Athletic Conference. They will need to be at their absolute best against a UC team which has the fourth-best defense in the country, according to KenPom. In other words, the Bearcats are a matchup nightmare for this team.

Jarron Cumberland and Conference Play

In an absolute laugher of a game against Memphis, one of the best sights to see was Jarron Cumberland’s efficient scoring. With 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting, Cumberland played his best game in weeks and one of the better ones of the season overall. The sophomore has endured a bit of a slump as his workload has increased. Although he is averaging a similar number of points per 40 minutes as compared to last season, he is shooting just 41.5 percent from the field overall, down from 49.3 percent a year ago. His performance against Memphis is a hopeful sign of things to come, especially as conference play heats up. Cumberland was at his best during this part of the schedule last year, averaging 8.8 points per game in league contests.

Prediction Time!

Playing at the Liacouras Center is usually a challenge no matter how the Owls are playing overall. However, Tulane got up in there and ripped away a victory just one week ago, as the Owls fell to 3-2 in home games. With a lack of serious depth, Temple will struggle to match up with Cincinnati, which has shown that it can get big games from reserves as well as starters (hello, Trevor Moore). With Gary Clark and Jacob Evans currently playing the best basketball of their careers, while Cumberland returns to form, its tough to see how Temple, which lost twice to UC a year ago, will be able to pull the upset.

Cincinnati 77 Temple 61