That’s more like it.
After losing to Ohio State in their season opener, the Bearcats (1-1) had to wait six more days to get their first victory of the campaign and the first at the new Fifth Third Arena. They were paced by some solid efforts from their frontcourt starters, as Trevon Scott and Nysier Brooks elevated their games. Scott showed off improved scoring skills, netting 12 points on a perfect 6-for-6 shooting night. He also tallied three rebounds, two assists and a block. Brooks only scored five points, but he had a team-high seven rebounds and two blocks as UC held a 31-26 edge on the glass.
On the perimeter, there were some changes, both in terms of production and personnel. After Cane Broome went just 1-for-10 from the floor in the opener, Mick Cronin made an adjustment, giving Keith Williams the start alongside Scott, Brooks, Jarron Cumberland and Justin Jenifer. Williams rewarded the choice, scoring a team-high 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting while blocking three shots to add some defensive flair.
On the other side of that equation, Broome had a largely invisible game, playing a total of 14 minutes and failing to score a single point. That isn’t likely to continue, but its not exactly confidence-boosting for the senior guard. Another disappointing carry over from the Ohio State game was the Bearcats’ struggles from beyond the arc, where they made only 5-of-14 attempts on Tuesday.
As for the other starters, Cumberland and Jenifer both played to their respective strengths, albeit to a lesser degree. Cumberland scored 10 points and found the net in multiple ways while Jenifer did his playmaking thing, handing out six assists to go with 10 points. As a team, the Bearcats had 19 assists while shooting 58.5 percent from the floor, a marked improvement from the 27.4 percent mark against Ohio State.
Defensively, the Bearcats were back up to speed. They limited NC Central to 36.2 percent shooting, while blocking eight shots and forcing 16 turnovers. They scored 19 points off of those takeaways, outscoring the Eagles by 11 in that area.
The wait for the next game — and next win if all goes according to plan — won’t be as long this time for UC, as it will host the Milwaukee Panthers of the Horizon League on Friday night.