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Cincinnati Beats Drake for First Win of John Brannen Era

Bearcats win home opener 81-59 against Drake

NCAA Basketball: Drake at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

First year head coach John Brannen got his first career win as coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats on Monday, as his team cruised to an 81-59 victory over Drake.

The Bulldogs, from the Missouri Valley Conference, went 24-10 in 2018-19 and are far from a “pushover opponent”. This was an impressive victory from start to finish.

There is a lot to be encouraged about, especially when it comes to the offense. I was encouraged in last week’s loss to Ohio State, because you could see the scheme and offensive concepts that Brannen wanted to run and there was so much ball movement, that it was exciting, even though the shots weren’t falling. On Monday, we saw what the offense is capable of when the shots do go in. They shot over 50% and scored 81 points and are still very much a work-in-progress as Brannen integrates new players with old players and everyone adjusts to new coaches and new plays.

Here are 20 observations and notes from last night’s game.

  1. 81 points is a lot more than 56 (what the Bearcats scored in a loss to Ohio State last week). Cincinnati exceeded 81 points just 6 times in 2018-19 and 8 times in 2017-18.
  2. It’s amazing what a difference making a few shots can have on an offense. After hitting 19 field goals (on 57 attempts) last Wednesday, Cincinnati shot 51%, hitting 31 shots (out of 60).
  3. Bearcats hit 4 threes (on 21 attempts) against Ohio State. They made 11 (on 27 attempts) on Monday.
  4. Of those 11 made threes, 8 came from the Cumberland cousins.
  5. Jarron shot 3 of 4 from three and 4 of 6 overall. He looked locked in and finished with 11 points in just 19 minutes.
  6. Jaevin led the team with 17 points, hitting 5 of 10 threes. He also had a couple of nice drives to the basket, showing some diversity in his game.
  7. Chris McNeal is the only player to exceed 20 minutes (26 minutes total). The other four starters each played 19 minutes.
  8. McNeal shot 5-11 and scored 12 points and dished out 4 assists, after getting just 1 assist vs OSU.
  9. McNeal and Jaevin, two grad transfers, combined to go 11-22 shooting, scoring 29 points.
  10. On Wednesday, Cincinnati’s freshman played 4 total minutes (3 for Jeremiah Davenport, 1 for Zach Harvey, 0 for Mika Adams-Woods). On Monday, they combined for 35 minutes. Adams-Woods played 14 points and had 2 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists. Davenport played 7 minutes and Harvey played 14 minutes and hit 1 of 4 shots.
  11. Adams-Woods looked poised and confident in his first minutes. With McNeil and Cumberland both seniors, Adams-Woods is likely the future of the point guard position so Brannen will need to work him into the lineup as much as he can.
  12. After fouling out in just 14 minutes on Wendesday, Chris Vogt had a huge impact, shooting 6 of 8 with 12 points.
  13. Trevon Scott hit his first basket (2 of them actually) of the year, after shooting 0-7 last week. He finished with 5 points and 11 rebounds, exceeding double digits rebounds for the second straight game.
  14. Cincinnati only took 12 free throws (made 8). Keith Williams attempted half of those, going 5-6 from the FT line. He finished with 8 points as he also hit a three in the opening minutes.
  15. Trevor Moore played 9 minutes. Moore has been recovering from surgery over the summer, so while he did not make any major contribution, it was nice to see him on the court and hopefully, as he gets up to speed, he should become a regular part of the rotation.
  16. It’s nice to see words of encouragement from the coach on the sideline and not the yelling and pouting we are used to seeing the last 13 years.
  17. It’s also nice to see a guy turn the ball over or miss a shot and not immediately walk to the bench.
  18. Cincinnati’s defense held Drake to 35% shooting.
  19. 10 offensive rebounds for Drake is unacceptable and something that Cincinnati will certainly need to work on limiting against future opponents.
  20. Drake guard DJ Wilkins scored 19 points in their opener and averaged 11 ppg last season. He was held to just 4 points on 1-5 shooting.

What’s Next

Cincinnati hosts Alabama A&M on Thursday and then head to the Virgin Islands next weekend for the Paradise Jam tournament. Cincinnati will face Illinois State on Friday and then the winner or loser (depending on their own result) of Bowling Green vs Western Kentucky on Saturday and the finals on Monday against, potentially Nevada.