Defeating Wichita State on the road may not have the same level of prestige as in year’s past, but the Cincinnati Bearcats really had to work for yesterday’s victory against the Shockers. Despite their now 8-9 overall mark, the Shockers gave the Bearcats everything they had and the Bearcats were able to respond effectively enough to leave town with a win.
Now, if you ask a Wichita State fan, they might say that the Bearcats had some extra help. One of the tried and true complaints when another team is winning is that the referees are giving them every call. That did seem to lean in favor of UC on Saturday. In a game decided by 11 points, the Bearcats attempted 28 more foul shots than the Shockers, while outscoring them 25-5 at the line. Some of that discrepancy was built in the final minutes as the Shockers fouled intentionally to extend the game, but the Bearcats had a 12-3 advantage in free throw attempts in the first half, so it wasn’t just a last minute thing.
It will be difficult to replicate that type of production at the charity stripe, even if the Bearcats only drove to the hoop and created contact on offense from here on out. Speaking of the offense, the Bearcats were fortunate to get so many points at the charity stripe because they only scored 14 points in the paint while shooting 39.1 percent from the field overall. Ball movement was frozen and the Bearcats only assisted on five of their 18 made field goals, including just a single dime in the first half.
As expected, they mitigated their own offensive issues by creating a ton for the Shockers. Mick Cronin had his players present different defensive looks, switching between zone and man-to-man defenses. The zone really worked, as the Shockers were unable to get the ball inside and often found themselves dribbling the shot clock down before taking a long shot. Some of those lengthy attempts fell, especially in the second half when they went 6-of-12 from the three-point line, but the Bearcats held them to only 55 points on 40.4 percent shooting overall. The Bearcats also did a great job of finishing defensive possessions, securing 36 rebounds as a team, including 10 apiece from Trevon Scott and Nysier Brooks.
One area where the defense came up short was in forcing turnovers and scoring off of them. UC is at its best when creating messes for other teams and getting out in transition. Unfortunately, they only had 13 takeaways, including one by way of a steal, while being outscored 16-10 off of turnovers.
We discussed the playing time allotment in the preview for this game, and there were some changes made, but nothing too excessive. Jarron Cumberland, Trevon Scott and Keith Williams all played more than 30 minutes, with Justin Jenifer and Nysier Brooks playing 27 and 29 minutes, respectively. With so few chances for reserves, the Bearcats were outscored 16-4 off the bench. To be fair, each starter had a positive plus/minus, led by the plus-18 from Cumberland. Interestingly enough, the only Bearcat who had a negative plus/minus was Trevor Moore, as UC was outscored by 12 points when he was on the floor. Considering he only played eight total minutes, there is not nearly enough evidence to indicate a trend, but it was still striking to see in the box score.
Best Individual Stat Line - Jarron Cumberland
Since he only had a couple minutes to rest, Cumberland was the driving force behind this UC victory, just as he has been for most of the others this season. He led the team in points (18), field goal attempts (17) and foul shots (10). While he didn’t shoot particularly well from the field (5-of-17) or at the line (6-of-10), the Bearcats outscored the Shockers by 18 when he was on the floor. In addition to his scoring work, Cumberland secured seven rebounds, two assists and a steal.
Editor’s Note: The original headline for this article read “Bearcats Get a ‘Free’ Win in Tulsa.” I guess we’re just too hyped about UC’s next game against the Golden Hurricane. We apologize for the error, which has been corrected.