For the first time since beating UNLV and Vermont in early December, Cincinnati has won consecutive basketball games. On Saturday. the Bearcats won 68-54 over UCF to improve to 10-6 and 3-1 in AAC play.
The win represents the first road victory of the John Brannen’s UC career (0-3 entering Saturday) and the third win away from home (3-5 on the year in road/neutral games). While UCF is far from the toughest opponent Cincinnati will face, it was an absolute must-win game to get off the schneid in road games and proving they can, in fact, beat inferior opponents.
Keith Williams led all UC players with 16 points, hitting 4-10 shots and all 7 of his free throw attempts. He also added 6 rebounds.
Trevon Scott had his 4th double-double of the season and played an excellent game. He scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds (3 offensive) and also had 4 steals, including a key one late in the game that led to a breakaway dunk.
Chris Vogt scored 13 points, on 6-10 shooting. It’s his 15th consecutive game scoring 10 or more points, since failing to do so on opening night against Ohio State.
First half struggles
Two areas of weakness in this game for Cincinnati - offense vs zone and easy baskets.
In previous losses, Cincinnati was doomed when the offense stalled or the shots didn’t fall against the zone. That same thing happened again in the first half. But, as noted above, the coaches and players made the proper adjustments and were able to figure it out in the second half and take over.
Too often throughout the half, UCF got easy second chance points off of offensive rebounds and back-door cutting led to open layups.
Second half dominance
After trailing by 3 at halftime, Cincinnati made some serious adjustments and outscored UCF 42-25 in the second half.
After committing just 5 turnovers in the first half, UCF committed 9 in the second half. Also noteworthy to point out that UCF had 9 assists as a team and shot 1-9 from three.
It was another interesting game for Jarron Cumberland. He did not attempt his first shot attempt until 15 minutes into the game - it was an airballed three. His first half numbers - 0 points on 0-1 shooting and 1 assist, 2 turnovers. It was a weird half, to say the least.
But in the later stages of the second half, Jarron woke up and seemed to play angry. He seemed to be sparked by the student’s section chanting “airball” at him. He finished the game with 6 points on 3-4 shooting and had 7 assists (1 shy of a career-high). He made plenty of positive contributions in the second half, without scoring.
One of his biggest contributions and assists, came on a play involving his cousin, Jaevin, who had 9 points off the bench. All 7 of Jaevin’s shots were three pointers (he hit 3 of them).
As you see below, Jaevin airballs a three, off a pass from Jarron. Keith Williams gets the offensive rebound, passes to Jarron, who goes back to his cousin, who doesn’t airball the second time...
The poise of this man to miss the first shot, immediately recognize the mistake, then take the same shot off the dribble seconds later, and NAIL it... OH BOY pic.twitter.com/BkYxw163Ek— Barstool Cincinnati (@UCBarstool) January 11, 2020
I have mostly avoided dissing the refs but recaps this year, but it’s hard to ignore. Thankfully, it didn’t cost Cincinnati in this game, but boy were they bad. Whether it was a charge on Jarron or phantom fouls on Scott and Vogt, these refs were seriously bad.
The worst call, or non-call, came late in the game when UCF’s Collin Smith backed down Vogt and was called for an offensive foul. The refs reviewed it and confirmed it was the right call. The problem, is that Smith clearly (whether intentional or not) threw an elbow at the mouth of Vogt. By definition, that should have been a flagrant 1 foul.
This is far from a Cincinnati problem. This is an AAC problem, if you watch any other games. The refs in this league are really bad, whether it’s basketball or football.
Around the AAC
SMU lost their first conference game and just their third game of the year (to fall to 12-3), losing a road game to East Carolina. If teams like ECU and Tulane are going to be tough outs, this conference is going to be a ton of fun to watch over the next couple of months.
Speaking of Tulane, they won on a second straight Saturday, beating Temple in Philly 65-51. It remains to be seen how good Temple is, but regardless, seeing Tulane win a road game in conference play is quite a big deal.
What’s Next for UC
If you don’t believe me that road wins are awesome, ask the coach.
2 underrated highs in life. 1. @Skyline_Chili after a long vacation.— John Brannen (@coachbrannen) January 11, 2020
2. Road Wins.
But you know what’s better than 1 road win? 2.
Cincinnati’s next game will be Thursday night at Memphis, the team most projected to win the AAC in 2020. Memphis is coming off of a loss on Thursday night to Wichita State and travels to USF on Sunday. They are currently ranked #21, though may fall out of the top 25 as a result of the Wichita State loss.
This game will have major implications on Cincinnati’s long-shot hopes for an NCAA Tournament bid in March.
More coverage of Memphis and this game to come this week at Down the Drive.