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Box Score Deep Dive: Bearcats Beat Musketeers Inside and Out

It didn’t matter where they were on the floor because the Bearcats were not losing on Saturday.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Even if its been nearly a full day since the Cincinnati Bearcats dispatched the Xavier Musketeers in the 86th Crosstown Shootout, that doesn’t mean we’re done basking in the glow of such a triumph. To keep the good times rolling, we’re bringing back the Box Score Deep Dive, where we break down some of the key statistical trends of each UC basketball game to give an idea of just why the Bearcats won or lost. Let’s get to it.

In a defensive clinic of sorts, the Bearcats shut the Musketeers down, laughing in the face of a highly rated adjusted offense and cackling at the X’s balanced attack. It was on the perimeter where the greatest defensive work was done. Xavier tried to shoot itself back into the game many times but just couldn’t find a rhythm from distance, making a total of five triples on 25 attempts. That’s good for just a 20 percent success rate. Naji Marshall and Quentin Goodin are two of the top scoring threats for the Musketeers, but they were building a brick wall when they tried to get three points, combining to go 2-for-15 from long range. Xavier already isn’t a great three-point shooting team, but the Bearcats have been fairly solid defending the perimeter all season, allowing just a 31.1 percent success rate from deep. Clearly the deck was very literally stacked against the Musketeers from the jump.

Unfortunately, the three-point shooting woes were not limited to the guys in blue. Aside from Jarron Cumberland (3-for-6 from beyond the arc), the Bearcats were also ice cold from three. While they were a bit more efficient than the Musketeers, shooting 5-for-18, they wasted more than a few possessions on long distance tries. UC already doesn’t shoot many threes, ranking near the bottom of the country in three-point rate (27.5 percent), and that may be more by design than we realize. It’s worth keeping an eye on in the coming weeks.

UC can afford to let the three-point line be a limited part of its game when it dominates the inside as it did against Xavier. Dominate may be a bit strong, but the Bearcats outscored the Musketeers 28-22 in the paint, which was pretty surprising considering Marshall and Tyrique Jones are both capable scorers closer to the basket. Interior defense from Nysier Brooks, Trevon Scott and Eliel Nsoseme shut the paint down, as Jones scored just two points and Marshall settled for far too many three-pointers.

The trio of frontcourt fellows also outworked Jones and company for rebounds. Scott tallied 10 as part of a double-double and Nsoseme had seven in just 16 minutes played. The 6’9” sophomore is earning himself more playing time by being a devoted rebounder, leading the team in total rebound rate (23.6 percent). Four of Nsoseme’s rebounds were on the offensive glass, where Brooks also had some key grabs (three offensive boards). Creating extra opportunities gave the Bearcats another edge, as they outscored the Musketeers 12-6 in second chance points.

While important, the difference in rebounding was nothing compared to what the Bearcats were able to do in terms of ball control. They only lost the ball five times all game, but then coupled that with intense pressure on defense, causing errant shots, passes and dribble moves from their rivals. Those mistakes sparked offensive success for the Bearcats, who tallied 15 points off turnovers. Xavier managed a total of two. That’s a mammoth difference in a game decided by 15 points.

So there you have it, the three factors that played into UC’s win the most were three-point defense, strong paint play and superior ball control. If they can repeat that most times out, the Bearcats will win more than just major rivalry games.

Best Individual Stat Line - Jarron Cumberland

Scott had a double-double and Nsoseme packed his game time with a ton of rebounds, but Cumberland carried the day. He netted a game-high 19 points and was the only player in the gym to have success from long range. It wasn’t just scoring, however, as Cumberland continued his all-around development by securing four rebounds, handing out four assists and even collecting a pair of steals. It was another strong effort in a Crosstown Shootout for the junior, who already has a signature performance under his belt.