The University of Cincinnati (UC) basketball has improved to 2-1 on the young 2020-21 season, with a 78-73 victory over the Furman University Paladins – who collected their first loss of the season and now stand at 4-1.

The Bearcats held a lead for the entirety of the game, although by fluctuating amounts. Up by 14 at one point, the Paladins closed the gap to only a single possession a handful of times in the second half. The Bearcats we’re ultimately able to stretch the lead back out – courtesy of guard Keith Williams

Williams was Cincinnati’s leading scorer for the night, putting up 27 points on 10-17 shooting and collecting five rebounds. 

It was a noticeably better shooting night for Williams compared to the senior’s 2-10 season debut against Lipscomb and 6-16 performance in the crosstown shootout against Xavier on Sunday. 

However, Williams continued his struggles at the line, going 6-12 – sticking him with an eyesore for a free throw shooting percentage at just 53% through three games. In 2019, it was quite the contrary, as Williams was one of the best free throw shooters in the American Athletic with an average of 80%.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” Williams said postgame. “I just got to keep shooting, stay out of my head.”

As a whole, free throws have been a source of trouble for the Bearcats so far this season. The unit is shooting 64% from the line, even worse than their mark of 67% in 2019. Worse yet, Cincinnati has allowed fouled enough to allow 73 total shots at line against opponents in just three games, where said opponents are shooting an average of nearly 77%.

Like Williams, the Bearcats enjoyed a much better total shooting display against Furman than in their previous two games. They made 56% of their collective shots on the night – attempting only 13 three-pointers, compared to their previous marks of 22 and 21, respectively – making four of them.

“I think [shooting] can be [a strength],” head coach John Brannen said. “We just got to have guys take the next step in shooting in terms of getting in the gym and putting the work in.”

Senior center Chris Vogt fouled out of the affair for his second game in a row. After a strong debut to the season, Vogt’s foul troubles are also paired with a strange lack of rebounds and blocks over the past couple of games. At 7’1”, six rebounds and one block over two games is a noticeable shortage of his normal numbers.

“I think for Chris, it’s staying out of foul trouble,” Brannen said. “There’s productivity there. Bottom line, I think Chris gets some heat because he’s 7-foot, 260 pounds. But, it’s not that easy to get the ball inside to a guy like that when the other team know you’re trying to throw it to him.”

Cincinnati’s next matchup will see them off to Rocky Top to face the University of Tennessee at 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 12 in Thompson-Boling Arena.