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Bearcats Survive and Advance in First Round of the Paradise Jam

Bearcats beat Illinois State and will play on Sunday in the second round of Paradise Jam

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

On Friday night, the Cincinnati Bearcats survived a scared against Illinois State and won 66-65 to advance to the second round of the winner’s bracket in the Paradise Jam event.

The game was awful. The experience watching was awful. Everything about this was pretty much awful. I would love to recap the game and provide some insightful analysis from what I watched, but it was kind of hard to watch.

So instead of going deep into analysis, here are my three takeaways from this game.

1. #BanFloHoops

If one or two people have a bad stream, chalk it up to bad wifi or bad device. If hundreds of people complain? That’s on you. FloHoops sucks. Watching this game was an absolutely miserable experience and throughout the game I was browsing flights to the Virgin Islands. I was justifying the thought that spending $1,000 on flights and hotels would be a better return on investment than the $30 sunk cost on FloHoops.

Thankfully, as Alex Meachem pointed out, coach Brannen claims we will no longer play in these types of tournaments. In 2020, Cincinnati will play in the pre-season NIT in Brooklyn, NY, a tournament that includes Arizona, Texas Tech and St John’s. And in 2021, they are expected to play in Maui. All of these games are likely to get picked up by ESPN.

Look, I do get it. Mick’s scheduling philosophy was simple. Play in these nonsensical tournaments, play OOC games against 300+ RPI teams and pad the record. He thought beating the crap out of these teams would boost confidence and help get the wins needed to make the NCAA Tournament. Obviously, we saw the problems with this philosophy as Cincinnati was often under-seeded in March and not battled tested. Brannen made his scheduling style clear when he added a couple of big name mid majors (Vermont being one of them). He’s basically saying he is willing to potentially lose games if it means national exposure (like next year’s tournament) and wants to play the test. I love it!

2. System for shooters without shooters

We continue to see little things and concepts from what Brannen wants to do on offense. The problem is his offense relies mostly on shooting the ball. And this team is not exactly known for it’s shooting prowess. Jarron Cumberland is a scorer. Obviously, he can shoot, but I’m not sure I would consider him a shooter. He’s a guy who can score from anywhere on the court and is better when he gets to the basket to make a play.

After missing their first 15 three point attempts, in the final minutes, Cumberland hit the team’s one and only three. The Bearcats were 1-16 as a team.

3. Depth is an issue

Coming into the season, it seemed like the Bearcats had decent depth with a good mix of newcomers and returning players. However, injuries have really derailed the start of this season. On Friday, two of the Bearcats’ top 7 players were out. Backup center Jay Sorolla missed the game and is likely out 3-4 weeks. Jaevin Cumberland suffered a leg injury early and has been ruled out for the weekend and his status after that is TBD.

Coming into the season, freshman Jeremiah Davenport, junior Trevor Moore, and Jarron Cumberland were all recovering from off-season injuries.

The depth issue was clear on Friday as the Bearcats scored just 2 points off the bench, a Jaevin field goal before he went out. Davenport and Moore missed their only shot attempts, as did Mamodou Diarra. And that’s it.

Zach Harvey played just 3 minutes, but in some of the photos taken throughout the week it looked like he might have had his foot in a boot, so perhaps that would explain his lack of playing time. Freshman Mika Adams-Woods played 13 largely insignificant minutes.

Thankfully, this tournament (oddly) has a break in between the first and second games, so the Bearcats are now off until Sunday night which gives them a chance to rest and regroup.

Players of the Game

Chris Vogt got his second straight double-double as he continued to make a big impact for the Bearcats on both ends. Vogt finished with 13 points (4-4 FG, 5-6 FT) and 13 rebounds.

Jarron Cumberland led all scorers with 23 points (5-16 FG).

Trevon Scott scored 14 points and had 7 rebounds

Scott also had a couple of big highlight plays.

What’s Next

How many times have I said this about the football lately - a win is a win! Bearcats shot 1-16 from three, trailed 59 out of 60 minutes playing in an empty beach arena, with no bench and found a way to pull out a win. Credit Brannen and the team’s vets for knowing what it takes later in the game and overcoming a 10 point deficit to avoid a bad loss. It’s too early to know if Illinois State is a going to be a good team this season, Brannen referred to them as a tournament caliber team in his post-game, but that’s simply coach speak. This would have been a bad loss, especially given the perception issues of Cincinnati basketball and the AAC as a whole.

Bearcats will play Bowling Green on Sunday after the Falcons beat Western Kentucky on Friday night 77-75. Justin Turner is the guy to watch for Bowling Green. We spotlighted him in our tournament preview. He finished Friday with 27 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists in 38 minutes.

Tweet of the Night

Thought Chris Reid captured FloFoops stream perfectly.