On Tuesday night the Bearcats fell short on the road against the best team in the American Conference (AAC), Houston. The University of Cincinnati (UC) men’s basketball will end their 2021-2022 season on the road as they head to Moody Coliseum, where they will take on the second-best team in the AAC, the Southern Methodist University (SMU) Mustangs.
Cincinnati’s game vs Houston was a tale of two halves. The Bearcats played a very good first half, they shot 52% from the field and 45% from three. With 8:13 left in the first half the Bearcats were down six points; from there they would go on an 8-0 run. This 8-0 run sparked a very tight end to the first half.
In the remaining 7:08 of the first half the largest lead was three points, until a last second three-point shot by Taze Moore put Houston up four. UC went into the half down only four points to the No. 14 team in the country. Cincinnati could have possibly gone into the half up if they didn’t shoot an abysmal 3-8 from the free throw line.
The second half is where everything would go wrong for UC. The Bearcats shot 28% from the field, 19% from three and 25% from the free throw line to end the game. Houston would end the game on a 6-0 run, which put UC to rest by 18 points.
Heading to SMU, oddly enough, both teams’ previous game was against Houston. Both UC and SMU lost by double digits to the Cougars.
SMU comes into this game averaging 74.4 points per game (PPG), while UC comes into the game averaging 69.7 PPG. On the season both teams average almost identical numbers in multiple categories. SMU averages 37.7 rebounds per game, 13.9 assists per game, 6.1 steals per game and 4.3 blocks per game.
On the other hand, Cincinnati averages 37.6 rebounds per game, 13.1 assists per game, 6.3 steals per game and 4.0 blocks per game. The biggest difference between these two teams is the turnover margin. The Bearcats have a turnover margin of 1.9, while the Mustangs have a turnover margin of -1.1.
The Bearcats will have to key in on SMU’s floor general, senior guard, Kendric Davis. The Houston native leads the Mustangs in PPG with 19.3. Davis has been efficient at putting points on the board, but Davis’s scoring isn’t the only thing the Bearcats will have to worry about. The guard is great at getting his teammates open and involved, Davis leads the team in assists (AST) per game, dishing out 4.6 AST’s every contest on average for the Mustangs.
SMU has a well-balanced offense, led by five accomplished senior starters. Four out of their five starters average double figures. All starters outside of Zach Nutall shoot 36% or above from three, meaning when the starters are on the floor, four of them are very capable three-point shooters. Due to this, UC must keep eyes on them, or they could cause havoc from behind the arc.
Tipoff is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m., viewable on ESPN.