Cincinnati Bearcats blew out SMU on Tuesday 65-43, putting together one of their most impressive performances of the season.
Bearcats are proving they can win multiple ways. One week after beating Temple 89-82, they put together their best defense performance of the season. SMU shot 26% from the field and the 43 points was by far their lowest output of the season.
The win was the 7th in a row for Cincinnati over SMU and improved their overall record to 13-7 and 6-2 in AAC play. For the third time this season, Cincinnati has won 3 games in a row, their longest streak.
Guess who’s back, back again
Cincinnati was led by the 2016-2019 version of Jarron Cumberland, who seems to be in the zone and playing at another level right now.
I hate thinking about how Jarron Cumberland played the first couple of months of the season. He was transitioning to a new coach with a new and vastly different system and was dealing with several injuries. He missed the summer workouts with a foot injury and suffered several other injuries throughout the opening month.
Finally, Cumberland seems to be getting into a rhythm though. He has been named to the weekly AAC Honor Roll two weeks in a row, after helping carry Cincy to a win at Temple last week.
On Tuesday night, Cumberland played, by far, his best game of the season, scoring 28 points, while hitting 9 of 13 shots, including 4 of 6 from three and 6-7 free throws. He grabbed a season-high 9 rebounds and had a team-high 4 assists.
I said after the Temple game, when Jarron and his cousin Jaevin combined for 37 points, that the Bearcats are unstoppable when those two guys go over 30 points. Jaevin only hit one three on Tuesday, giving them a combined 31 points. Whether it’s 2 Cumberlands or 1, when they hit 30 points, they won’t lose.
I don’t regret the negative things I said about Cumberland earlier and being critical of his earlier in the season. He was not playing well and he hurt the team more than he helped them. That’s true. But what’s also true is how hard he has worked to turn it around. I always had faith he would figure it out, and here we are, entering the final month of the regular season and needing to win, basically every game from here on out to extend the season beyond the conference tournament. Killer eyes Jarron is the best type of Jarron. And we’re lucky to be seeing it one last time.
As noted above, Jaevin hit just one three, shooting 1-8 from three. He is shooting 35% from three on the season and remains extremely hot and cold.
Mika Adams-Woods played 22 minutes and his impact offensively was minimal, but his defensive effort was outstanding the best performance of his career. He was tasked with guarding Kendric Davis, who was noted as our player to watch, entering the game averaging a team-high 16.2 ppg. Davis did not reach 16 points. He did not even reach 1 point. In 26 minutes, Davis shot 0-6, committed 3 turnovers and was held scoreless for the 4th time in his year plus career.
Chris Vogt did not have his best game. He shot just 4 of 10, finishing with 8 points and 9 rebounds. The 6 misses were his most in a game this season.
Trevon Scott maintained his season average of 9 rebounds per game. While Jarron is the key to success for Cincinnati, Trevon performing like a senior, playing at a high level, is a significant boost for this team as well.
Keith Williams is just a really good, quality player. He scored 13 points.
And shout out to Zach Harvey, who has gotten off to a slow start in his Cincy career, but played 10 minutes off the bench, scoring 5 points. He is starting to get into more of a rhythm in recent games and hopefully can continue to gain confidence and prove to be a valuable contributor.
After Tuesday night, Cincinnati is up to 42 in the latest KenPom rankings. More importantly, Houston is ranked 23, and that’s what’s next for Cincinnati.
On Saturday night, the Bearcats host the Cougars in a massive AAC showdown, with major March implications. I still don’t believe the Bearcats are on the bubble yet, but they are getting closer and closer to entering the conversation and a win over Houston will prove that they belong in the discussion.
And when Jarron Cumberland plays like he did in the second half against Temple last week and Tuesday against SMU, this Cincinnati team is not going to lose.