The University of Cincinnati men’s basketball team defeated the University of Central Florida Knights 49-38 Tuesday night at CFE Arena in Orlando.
It was the Bearcats ninth win in a row as they improved to 16-2 on the season, including a 5-0 mark in American Athletic Conference play.
Here are a few takeaways from the game:
1. Gary Clark is a problem
The senior forward recorded his second straight double-double leading all scorers with 17, as well as recording a game high of 14 rebounds. In a game where points came at a premium, Clark proved he was the only player on the court capable of putting the ball in the basket. Defensively, he completely shut down anyone on the Knights whom he was tasked with guarding.
2. The bench needs to do more
The Bearcats received minimal production from the second unit Tuesday night. The bench registered just 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting, with no player putting more than three on the board. Junior guard Cane Broome, who Cronin put on the bench with the vision of creating a super sixth man, has not lived up to the hype surrounding him when he first came to UC. After averaging 23.1 points per game at Sacred Heart University, he has averaged less than nine per game this season. He was 1-of-7 from the field against UCF and committed two turnovers. UC needs more production from the bench against fiercer competition, and it starts with Broome.
3. These Bearcats don’t quit
For their third time in the last four games, the Bearcats overcame at least an eight-point deficit to rally for victory. Their sloppy play and poor shooting is concerning, as it has led them to trail against inferior competition. Their ability to battle back, however, is a good sign. Cronin has shown the ability to make halftime adjustments, and his players have demonstrated the ability to kick things into higher gear when it is needed. Their experience in coming from behind could prove beneficial come tournament time.
4. This defense is the best in the nation
This game certainly adhered to both team’s strengths, as the No. 2 and No. 3 defenses were going up against each other. Anyone with the slightest inkling of basketball knowledge could have told you this would not be a high scoring game. While UCF has struggled offensively all season, the 38 points the Bearcats held them to was their lowest point total in a game this millennium. UC’s defense smothered the Knights all night, providing zero open looks en route which allowed them to shoot 30 percent from the field.
5. Cumberland is an enigma
This is the most confusing player I have seen at UC in a while. Cumberland came to UC as a hometown product out of Wilmington High School with loads of hype, ranked as the No. 55 recruit in the nation by ESPN — Cronin’s biggest signing since the extremely disappointing Jermaine Lawrence. It is easy to see why the hype was so big, as the sophomore guard displays a smooth shooting stroke combined with the necessary speed and strength to get to the rim on a consistent basis. However, predicting whether he will show up is impossible. After not scoring a single point in 36 minutes against Temple, Cumberland scored 32 points combined during the next two games. Expecting him to continue building on that success, he instead laid an egg, putting up five while taking only four shots.