What can you really say about a game like last night’s 70-65 overtime win for the Cincinnati Bearcats? If you didn’t experience it in real time, you might not appreciate just how weird a game it was.
UC led by as many as 10 points during regulation, yet somehow looked finished near the end of it. That was until an unlikely hero saved them, a referee’s call went against them and both sides failed to understand how to inbound the ball in a crucial spot.
All of that was before overtime even started, yet the Bearcats had enough juice left to sink 4-of-5 shots from the field in the final frame to secure the victory.
For as strange as the final few minutes were, the entirety of this hard-fought, well-earned and crucial road victory taught us more than a few things about the Bearcats.
Cane Broome can still be the spark on offense. While he still needs to do it consistently, the senior point guard was instrumental in UC’s rally in the final minutes of regulation. He scored 14 of his game-high 16 points in the final six minutes of the second half and was the only Bearcat to score in that time. To say Broome carried the offense when it needed him most would be an understatement.
The effort was quite the turnaround from his work against East Carolina last time out. Scratch that. It was quite the turnaround from his work in the first 34 minutes of this game, as he had only two points before turning on the afterburners.
Overall, Broome made 6-of-12 shots from the floor and he even hit multiple threes for the first time since February of last year. Sure, it took him seven attempts to get there, but it was a welcome improvement for a player the Bearcats will need down the stretch. Now he just has to do it for the entire 40 minutes and not just the last six.
Broome’s efforts were especially appreciated because two starters really had a tough time. Justin Jenifer only played for 13 minutes and went 1-for-4 from the floor. Nysier Brooks got more minutes (23) and collected three steals and as many blocks, but he struggled offensively and was glued to the bench in crunch time. Those rough outings were somewhat outweighed by a surprising flash from reserve wing Trevor Moore, who drilled three triples in a season-high 26 minutes.
Speaking of the three-point line, UC’s struggles with that part of the game expanded to the defensive side. Tulsa knocked down 14 threes on 23 attempts, which equates to a 60.9 percent success rate. Six different Tulsa players made multiple threes and the Bearcats nearly lost because of it. UC’s own three-point performance had its high points, especially in overtime, but the Bearcats still shot just 29.0 percent from distance.
Depending on how you look at it, Tulsa’s success from three-point range may have helped the Bearcats in a strange way. While 14 threes will always hurt, the Golden Hurricane became so transfixed with the three that they didn’t do much close to the basket. Only five of their 19 made field goals were from two-point range and they had only two two-point field goals after halftime. That led to a total of four points in the paint for the game, which was drastically below what the Bearcats produced (22). It was more of a symptom of Tulsa’s excellent long range shooting than anything UC did defensively, but still worth noting.
A final segment of the contest that pushed UC over the edge was ball control. The Golden Hurricane may have made any three they wanted, but they were also hampered by UC’s pressure defense. By forcing 22 turnovers, including 15 by way of the steal, and collecting nine offensive rebounds, the Bearcats finished with nearly 20 more shot attempts (65) than Tulsa (46).
A game like this isn’t likely to be repeated. Tulsa isn’t going to score less than five points in the paint that often, nor is it going to make more than 60 percent of its threes. On the other side, the Bearcats won’t allow those kind of numbers all that often either. If the Bearcats hope to take anything from this game, it should be whatever inspired Broome in the final minutes. They could use a bunch of that for the next few months.
Best Individual Stat Line - Trevor Moore
In easily his best game of the season, Moore was the presence the Bearcats needed off the bench. The sophomore made 3-of-7 shots from long range (42.9 percent) and also nabbed three steals. Most importantly, the Bearcats were +10 with him on the floor.