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Cincinnati vs Drake Basketball Preview: 6 Questions

John Brannen makes his home debut as Cincinnati hosts Drake in men’s basketball on Monday.

NCAA Basketball: Cincinnati at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

After losing the opening game at Ohio State, the Cincinnati Bearcats play their home opener at Fifth Third Arena, against the Drake Bulldogs, from the Missouri Valley Conference.

HOW TO WATCH

The game will be aired locally on Fox Sports Ohio.

If you are not local, or do not get that channel, you can click this link to access ESPN+, where you can watch the game online or on any device (phone, iPad, laptop, smart TV).

ABOUT DRAKE

This is the first meeting between Cincinnati and Drake since 1974. As members of the Missouri Valley Conference, these teams played annually from 1957-1974.

Drake is no push over opponent. Last year, the Bulldogs went 24-10. They made the postseason, playing in the collegeinsider.com postseason tournament.

They beat Kennesaw State last week in their opener. Drake had five players score double digits points in the win.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Drake - DJ Wilkins led the way with 19 points in last week’s win, shooting 7-11 from from the floor and 4-7 from three. He also grabbed 4 rebounds and dished out 4 assists. Wilkins averaged 11 ppg last season and was a Preseason Third Team All-MVC pick.

Cincinnati - Chris McNeil started at point guard in his Cincinnati debut Wednesday, scoring 10 points on 4-12 shooting and dished out only one assist. There were many questions in the preseason about PG and McNeal needs to step up and answer those questions himself and move the ball, while contributing as a secondary scorer.

SIX QUESTIONS

How will the offense continue to progress?

On Wednesday night, Cincinnati shot 33% from the field (19-57) and 19% from three (4-21). Star Jarron Cumberland was just 4-13 and Trevon Scott was 0-7.

Beyond that, there were many positive signs on offense. No, seriously! That shots just did not fall, but there were encouraging signs such as the passing and the overall movement. Guys were active and not just standing around and the ball movement was at an all-time high.

As noted above, McNeal is a key piece to this offense, and while the offense should flow through Jarron every possession, McNeal needs to be the key catalyst for the ball movement.

This is a new coaching staff implementing a new system with 7 new players trying to jel with 5 returning players, one of whom is out injured (Trevor Moore) and one of whom missed significant time throughout the summer and training camp with an injury (Cumberland).

Will Trevon Scott hit a shot?

As noted above, Scott was 0-7 from the floor in 32 minutes and was also 0-2 from three. His only 3 points came on free throws. He did grab 12 points, so he certainly was able to contribute beyond just scoring. But that said, Scott is one of the key leaders of this team and as this offense comes together, Scott will be a key piece as a guy who averaged 9 ppg last season.

Will we see the freshman play more minutes?

Zach Harvey played just one minutes, missing one shot on Wednesday. He came in early in the first half and was quickly pulled and did not return.

Jeremiah Davenport played late in the second half, playing just 3 minutes.

Mika Adams-Woods didn’t get off the bench at all.

How will Brannen continue to refine his rotations and will the Bearcats have a comfortable enough lead to allow these guys to play a bit more?

Can Chris Vogt stay out if foul trouble?

Vogt, a transfer from NKU who has familiarity with Brannen and his system, fouled out in just 13 minutes on Wednesday. He scored 4 points and grabbed 4 rebounds but was un

Can either Cumberland get their shot going?

A big reason for Cincinnati’s struggles, at times, last season was the lack of a secondary scorer to Jarron Cumberland. His cousin Jaevin, who transferred from Oakland, was supposed to be one of the key options, who helped take pressure off. The two combined for 16 points on 5-19 shooting and 1-10 from three.

The Cumberlands may need to consistently average at least 25 ppg combined in order for the Bearcats to have a chance.

Is this the real Keith Williams?

Williams was solid, but inconsistent player the last couple of years. He certainly had his moments, but from the second Brannen got to UC he has been hyping up Williams as the perfect fit for his offensive scheme.

Williams actually made the most shots of any Bearcat on Wednesday (5) and tied Cumberland with a team-high 13 points. He also hit 2 of the team’s 4 three pointers.

Bearcats will be successful if Williams averages 13 ppg and can be a reliable secondary scoring option, while also contributing strong defense.