If there is anyone out there that still doubts the Cincinnati Bearcats, they are having a tough time holding onto that misguided opinion. The sixth-ranked team in the country obliterated the UCF Knights last night. Now you can argue that without Tacko Fall, the Knights are not the same team, but dominating start to finish in a 37-point victory against a conference opponent with 14 wins at this point in the season is nothing to turn your nose at.
By allowing only 40 points, UC backed up its very favorable defensive ratings this season. It all started in the first half when the Bearcats allowed just five field goals on 19.2 percent shooting. During one particularly cold stretch, the Knights missed 14 shots in a row. While they would shoot better in the second half (.400 FG percentage), it did not matter a bit, with the Bearcats devastating UCF for 40 minutes.
B.J. Taylor, UCF’s leading scorer, was held scoreless over 12 minutes before exiting with an injury. Even if he had been healthy, it may not have helped much. Shots were impossible to come by for UCF, no matter where it tried to get the offense going. The Bearcats didn’t allow a single three-pointer in 14 attempts and also allowed a paltry 18 points in the paint. Kyle Washington was at the forefront of the paint protection, blocking three shots. The Bearcats had six as a team and currently rank 14th in the country with 134.
Even though Washington had the volume part of the blocked shots equation on lock, Gary Clark had the highlight reel covered.
GARY CLARK IS DOING IT ALL. PROBLEM. pic.twitter.com/VPmT3cT1kf— OhVarsity! (@OhVarsity) February 7, 2018
Woah. Give me a second. That just took my breath away.
OK, I’m back.
Clark’s play there not only helped add to the blocks total, but aided the Bearcats with their forcing turnovers strategy, which paid off in spades. With 16 forced turnovers, UC outscored the Knights 22-2 in points off takeaways. It doesn’t take a genius to know that lots of easy buckets is a simple way to get easy wins. That same genius doesn’t need to show up to inform you that limiting an opponent to an effective field goal percentage more akin to a decent batting average (.283) and an offensive rating below 60 makes those wins that much easier.
But what about UC’s offensive output? There were more than a few surprising sources of scoring as the Bearcats ran away with the win. Justin Jenifer came out firing and finished with 11 points, while sinking three triples. It was Jenifer’s first game in double figures since Nov. 16 against Coppin State.
Trevor Moore came off the bench to supplement the work of the starters, finishing the game with 14 points in 13 minutes. In those 13 minutes, Moore got a ton of action, with a usage percentage hovering around 37 percent and an effective field goal percentage above 70.
Moore wasn’t the only reserve to make his presence felt, as Tre Scott and Nysier Brooks combined for 14 rebounds. Just about everyone on the roster made an effort to crash the boards, and UCF really missed Fall in that area. UC had a 48-31 edge in rebounds and also scored 15 second chance points while posting an offensive rebounding percentage of 42.5. The Knights answered with marks of four and 15.2 in those categories, respectively. Ouch.
The Bearcats have moved up to the No. 4 spot in KenPom’s rankings and are seemingly picking up even more momentum as they charge toward March. Watch out, rest of the college basketball world.
Best Individual Stat Line
Forgive me, but I’m picking co-winners for this one. In the counting numbers category, Jarron Cumberland actually had a quietly productive game, scoring nine points on 3-of-6 shooting while contributing six rebounds and four assists.
As for the analytical side, Clark gets the win even though he only scored 12 points and secured five rebounds. The reason is because his shooting efficiency was through the roof. He had a true shooting percentage of 82.0 and also posted the highest offensive rating of anyone on the team (184).