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Leaders Step Up in Crunch Time to Lead Cincinnati to Overtime Victory over Memphis

Cincinnati was plagued by missed threes and free throws, but overcome their own mistakes and beat Memphis 92-86 in overtime.

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

Never in doubt!

As the clock approached for 4:00 mark of the second half of Thursday night’s basketball game. I tweeted out “Is it weird to still be confident and think this game is right there for the taking??”

It was admittedly very weird. To that point, virtually nothing good had happened for Cincinnati. They had missed 20 three point attempts and 13 free throws. Jarron Cumberland and Chris Vogt combined to make ZERO field goals. And the team just wasn’t getting stops defensively, as Precious Achiuwa and Lester Quinones were able to do whatever they wanted against the Bearcats.

So why, with everything going against them, would I feel confident, despite being down just 5 points, heading into the final stretch? The answer is belief.

I have a strong belief in this team - in the coaching staff, the leaders of the team, and the fans, who once again Thursday night proved they are very much apart of this team.

Coming back is nothing new for the Bearcats. They did it a couple weeks ago at Houston, they went back-and-forth with Wichita State and ended up blowing a lead of their own, before re-taking the lead. So we had seen this story before.

At the end of the day. the guys who had to step up did - Jarron Cumberland didn’t score his first basket until 42.5 minutes into the game, yet played a major role offensively in the comeback, Jaevin Cumberland hit some HUGE three pointers, Mika Adams-Woods and Keith Williams flexed their athleticism, freshmen Zach Harvey and Jeremiah Davenport made some big time plays, and senior Trevon Scott showed the world just how good he can be.

Cincinnati won the game, in overtime, 92-86.

At the end of the day, the team many expected to see before the season and the team we’ve seen in spurts throughout the year, not always consistently, is the team that stepped up and won the game.

Like I said, it was never in doubt.

Senior leaders

Trevon Scott was an absolute beast. Four days after setting a new career-high with 25 points against UConn, he matched it against Memphis and also set a new career-high with 19 rebounds. Scott was one rebound shy of Cincinnati’s first 20-20 game since Kenyon Martin did it in 1998. Bummer, but he’ll have to settle for his 9th double-double of the season instead. On a night where Cincinnati shot an absurd 9-33 from three, Scott actually made 3 of them (on 5 attempts). The three made threes are a new career-high.

Scott is a career 60% free throw shooter, who made 6-10 on Thursday. But the only 2 that mattered came in the final seconds. Cincinnati’s final possession of regulation was very discombobulated but ultimately ended with Scott getting fouled while trying to get off a shot. With ice in his veins, he hit both, tying the game at 73 and sending it to overtime.

When you look at Jarron’s stat sheet, and just look quickly at the numbers, 15 points and 9 rebounds looks solid and is on average with what we have been used to. But if you watched the game or look closer, you’ll see the 15 points was actually his worst offensive game of the season. The problem started when he was benched with 2 fouls less than 2 minutes into the game. That ruined all of rhythm for Cincinnati early on. He played much of the stretch run with 4 fouls in the second half and was able to contain himself.

Jarron did not hit a shot in regulation, with his first basket coming on a drive to the basket 2.5 minutes into overtime. That drive led to an and-one and foul shot for Cumberland. On a night where the team was putrid from the free throw line, Jarron flipped the script and missed just 2, hitting 13-15.

Like Sunday, when the shots weren’t falling he became a playmaker, more than a shooter. Against UConn, he set a career-high with 10 assists, and against Memphis he finished with 9 assists.

Jaevin Cumberland scored 10 points, shooting 3-7 from three, including a couple of clutch shots down the stretch.

Freshman step up

Mika Adams-Woods has been a solid ball handler for the Bearcats all year and a guy who has controlled the tempo and gotten everyone involved. But, for the most part, Jarron Cumberland, has taken on the role of “point guard” in this offense as everything flows through him. Last night, Adams-Woods stepped up in a big way, while Jarron was in foul trouble and struggling offensively. Adams-Woods hit 3-7 threes and finished with 14 points. Some of those threes came at really clutch times.

Zach Harvey played 14 minutes and continues to improve everytime he sees the court. He played well defensively.

Jeremiah Davenport....where has this been all year??

Davenport played 11 minutes and scored 8 points and was a huge spark plug off the bench. Ultimately, Davenport got some run when Mamoudou Diarra was ineffective off the bench. Davenport had some exciting dunks and an and-one opportunity and really got the crowd excited and the players hyped up.

The rest

Chris Vogt had a rough game. He scored 1 basket, which came late in overtime on a dunk. He had 6 rebounds and made just 3-8 from the free throw line.

As he does every game, Keith Williams made some big plays and finished with 11 points.

In the first meeting between these teams, freshman guard Lester Quinones went 3-3 from three. He hit 3-6 on Thursday and finished the game with 18 points

Memphis freshman Precious Achiuwa was a major problem for Cincinnati. I have to be honest, it would have been fascinating to see Achiuwa next to James Wiseman in this offense, but I’m not disappointed that it won’t happen. Achiuwa was limited to 2 points in the first half, and exploded with 20 second half points and finished with 17 rebounds.

As a team, Cincinnati made 9 three pointers on 33 attempts.

And made 29 of 47 free throws. But, it should be noted that they hit 8-12 free throws in overtime.

Imagine missing 24 three pointers and 18 free throws and winning by six?

Controversy with officiating?

In the first meeting between Cincinnati and Memphis, it was really easy to blame the refs and call out a number of blatant missed calls and impacted the game.

Memphis fans feel that a blatant missed call impacted the game for them on Thursday.

This call was huge. Under 4 minutes and down 7, Cumberland was able to get to the line and hit free throws. Had this been called a charge, not only would it be Memphis ball with a chance to build on the lead, Cumberland would have been out of the game with his 5th foul.

What do you think? Block or charge?

Loudest ovation of the night

It wasn’t Scott’s free throws, or Davenport’s dunk or any of Jaevin’s threes. It was when Luke Fickell was shown on the scoreboard near the end of the first half.

What’s next

Cincinnati travels to Greenville to face East Carolina on Sunday at noon. Last time Cincinnati play at ECU, they lost last season. They did beat ECU at home 82-57 last month.

Cincinnati is 16-8 overall and 9-3 in AAC play. Coming into Thursday night, Joe Lunardi of ESPN had Cincinnati as his last team in. This win, while not considered quad 1, is still a strong win and should keep the Bearcats barely in the field through the weekend. A loss to ECU, would completely cripple the resume and could doom the Bearcats, regardless of what happens in upcoming games against Houston and Wichita State. Cincy must continue to handle business and everything else will work itself out.