You really couldn’t ask for a better start to the new year than what the Cincinnati Bearcats accomplished on Wednesday in a 32-point drubbing of the Tulane Green Wave. Everyone makes resolutions at this time of year and if the Bearcats are hoping to keep their own —defending their American Athletic Conference title — they are already making progress.
Speaking of great starts, that’s just what the Bearcats had in the game itself. After the two teams traded punches in the first couple minutes, UC flipped a switch and ripped off a 30-12 run in the first period to essentially ice the game before halftime. In that first half, the Bearcats shot 54 percent from the floor, including a blistering 9-of-15 from three-point range. They led for nearly 39 of the 40 minutes in the game, trailed for only 29 seconds and the final score amounted to their largest lead of the game.
The Bearcats were able to score so much because of smart shot selection. While they took 21 attempts from beyond the arc, they didn’t just settle for threes either. Led by Jarron Cumberland and Cane Broome, the Bearcats fought their way to the free throw line somewhat regularly and took advantage. Cumberland made 7-of-8 foul shots and Broome knocked down 5-of-5 while the team shot 82.6 percent overall. That’s a marked improvement on their season mark of 72.4 percent. In addition, they outscored the Green Wave 34-20 in the paint, and that was even without frontcourt guys like Nysier Brooks and Trevon Scott really making a huge impact, showing that UC’s guards were putting the ball on the deck and getting to the rim.
It’s easy to get simple looks around the rim when you pass like the Bearcats did on Wednesday. Justin Jenifer, Broome and Cumberland all had more than a couple highlight reel dimes, with the Bearcats assisting on a total of 20 field goals. Each extra pass was usually the right decision, as UC had only five turnovers. Takeaways still played a part in the game since the Bearcats scored 18 points off of them, but they didn’t give the ball up themselves.
Cumberland, Cane and Jenifer were the standout performers in this victory, but the exceptional performance on the wings carried over to the bench as well. Keith Williams has become a star in his own right, but he was replaced by Broome in the starting lineup against Tulane. He didn’t let that affect his play, however, as he scored 10 points while being a stopper on defense with three steals and as many blocks. In addition, Rashawn Fredericks found his range and knocked down 3-of-5 shots from beyond the arc. Thanks to those two, as well as a sturdy performance from Eliel Nsoseme, the Bearcats were just as dominant with reserves as with starters.
There is very little to critique from this performance, but tougher games are on the horizon. No matter how good their passing is, it will be more difficult for the Bearcats to hide ugly games from guys like Scott and Brooks in the future. However, if they can carry over the successes of Wednesday and improve on their few shortcomings, the Bearcats are about to punish the American Athletic Conference.
Best Individual Stat Line - Jarron Cumberland
Cumberland’s development into a do-it-all player has been the biggest driver of UC’s season. He scored in every way imaginable against the Green Wave, draining threes (3-for-5), splashing mid-range jumpers, finishing at the rim and making 7-of-8 free throws. In the midst of being the best scorer for the Bearcats (22 points), he found time to lead them in rebounds (seven) while handing out five assists. UC outscored Tulane by 34 points when Cumberland was on the floor and its easy to see why, even if you’re just looking at the box score.