It’s one thing when the Cincinnati Bearcats put up 90 or more points against a team like Arkansas-Pine Bluff or Savannah State, two squads they have vanquished with ease during the last two seasons. It’s an entirely other matter when a team from what is considered a “power conference” visits and the Bearcats still lay down a complete beating. Despite the rarity of such an occurrence, that is exactly what happened on Wednesday night when the Bearcats defeated the UCLA Bruins 93-64. Here are some things that stuck out from the 29-point drubbing.
Obviously to get to 93 points, the Bearcats had to shoot well. That’s not worth talking about. What is worth discussing is what they did from three-point range.
Before Wednesday, a troubling trend has developed this season for the Bearcats and it was displayed in front of everyone against Mississippi State. That trend, for the uninitiated, is a lack of firepower from beyond the arc. Against the Bulldogs, the Bearcats made a total of three triples, while being outscored 36-9 from such distance. They also happened to lose that game.
I’m not sure if it was a tweak to the offense from Mick Cronin or good, old fashioned motivation that turned the tide on Wednesday, but whatever it was, the Bearcats need to keep it going. UC connected on a blazing 12-of-21 shots from long range. For a squad making only 5.8 per game on 36.3 percent shooting, it was a welcome development, especially with Jarron Cumberland (4-for-5), Keith Williams (3-for-4) and Justin Jenifer (3-for-5) all draining multiple threes with precision.
A key to getting so many good looks from three, and really everywhere on the floor, was a dedication to ball movement. The Bearcats assisted on 24 of their 33 made field goals, while turning the ball over only six times. That means passes were crisp and found the right guys at the perfect times. Jenifer led the way with five dimes, which is no surprise since he leads the team in assist rate (32.3 percent), but playmaking from Williams (four assists) and even Trevon Scott (four assists) shows that this team is capable of playing exceptionally cohesively on offense.
You may have noticed that both Williams and Jenifer’s names popped up in those first couple paragraphs. While Cumberland paced the Bearcats with 27 points against the Bruins, Williams and Jenifer were both equally, if not more important in the victory. While not a perfect stat, taking a look at plus-minus shows that the Bearcats were +18 with Williams on the floor and +15 with Jenifer out there. Jenifer actually led the team in offensive rating (175) in the game, while Williams put in a solid effort himself (149). Let’s not forget Nysier Brooks either, as the center from Philadelphia produced team-best ratings on both offense (187) and defense (82).
Brooks scored 14 points, but it was his work on the glass that was most useful against the Bruins. With six boards and a team-high rebound rate of 21.4 percent during the game, the through line to UC’s 38-25 edge on the glass isn’t hard too draw. But Brooks wasn’t the only guy crashing the boards. Scott and Cumberland both had five rebounds and were two of the primary drivers of UC’s 29.6 percent offensive rebound rate. Off the bench, Eliel Nsoseme (five rebounds) and Rashawn Fredericks (four rebounds) both made a sizable rebounding impact.
Shooting, passing and rebounding are three of the basic elements of basketball and the Bearcats did all three perfectly on Wednesday. The end result was a massively impressive win.
Best Individual Stat Line - Jarron Cumberland
Brooks packed 14 points (5-for-6 shooting), six rebounds, three assists and two blocks into only 18 minutes of game time, but it was Cumberland who was there drilling triples in UCLA’s face all night. He made 9-of-17 shots from the floor overall, helped on the boards and had a pair of steals as well.