Two Cents & Sense: Thoughts on UC vs Penn State



N.C. Brown

| The News Record)

The Bearcats got the job done, dominating wire to wire against Penn State in the consolation game of the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Tip-Off. After the letdown against Rhode Island, it was encouraging to see UC put the clamp on the Nittany Lions and cruise to a dominating 71–50 victory that wasn’t even as close as the score makes it seem. Here’s the scoop:


  • Kyle Washington is going to give the AAC all it can handle. Unless the wheels completely fall off, I can’t envision a scenario in which he isn’t a first team all-conference player. He’s putting up video game numbers through four games, and it doesn’t look flukey. He’s just that good. Sunday brought 16 points and 17 rebounds. We still saw flashes of poor shot selection, dumb fouls, and bad turnovers, but I think Mick will stomach a certain amount of those issues if Washington is going to be a dependable scorer and rebounder all year.

(video via ESPN/Bearcats TV, GIF by OhVarsity)

  • Tre Scott was terrific. I’ve said that Scott’s freshman season is a “take what you can get” year. He won’t be required to do very much aside from play without making major mistakes. Against Penn State, he went above and beyond, shooting 5-of-6 for 10 points, three rebounds, an assist, and a block in just 18 minutes. With the short rest between games, Mick needed to rely on Tre. He came through big time, and did a marvelous job of picking his spots. Penn State gave him a couple wide open mid-range jumpers. He said “thank you very much,” and knocked them down. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

(video via ESPN/Bearcats TV, GIF by OhVarsity)

  • The ‘Cats did what needed to be done. Before tip-off, this game looked like a big win on paper. UC is a veteran team that wanted to bounce back from a game they blew against Rhode Island. Penn State is led by freshman coming off a game in which they burnt themselves out trying to beat the #1 team in the country. This was a game UC should have won decisively, and they did. It’s nice to see the Bearcats pass tests like this. It’s good to see them quickly respond to a tough loss by fighting off sore muscles and pounding a solid Penn State team.
  • Gary Clark took it easy. He only took four shots, and they were basically the only shots he had to take all day. However, he made all three and also threw in six rebounds, two assists, and three steals. Given the short layoff and the fact that the game was a blowout early, I don’t think he wanted to do much more than that. He gave UC what they needed today, and made a pretty step-back to open the scoring.

(video via ESPN/Bearcats TV, GIF by OhVarsity)

  • Jacob Evans moved the chains. It’s pretty cool when 14 points, five rebounds, and two steals from a sophomore elicits an ehh reaction, but that’s where we are with Jacob Evans. He hit some pretty shots. He had a couple strong finishes. He also made some sophomore mistakes. He’s having a great year so far, and an easy 5-for-7 afternoon against Penn State kept things rolling.
  • UC put the lid on Tony Carr. He’s just a freshman, but he’s good, or at least he’s going to be. He racked up 20 points and six rebounds against #1 Duke on Saturday. On Sunday, the Bearcats cut that in half, holding him to 10 points and two boards on 3-for-9 shooting. Part of can be attributed to the fact that he’s just a freshman, making him streaky on top of being unprepared to play back-to-back against ranked teams. However, the Bearcats still limited him, which was an encouraging sign. They’ll face players like him in the conference slate.
  • The Bearcats still look good, plain and simple. They shot 50% against the Nittany Lions and so many things looked easy for them. Passes are better. Ball movement is better. Shot selection is better. For the third time this season, they’ve maintained a lead despite stretches of less-than-stellar play. I think a mark of a good team is being able to stay in the game (or even lead it) while you find your footing.


  • Troy Caupain had a rough weekend. After shooting 4-for-15 against Rhode Island and looking generally bad, Troy finished 5-for-13 against Penn State. He showed a bit of improvement on paper, but he didn’t look that much better in his eye test, especially in the first half. Hopefully all we’re seeing is a guy struggling to live up to the pressure of being a senior point guard in the Cronin system. I can’t imagine his struggles will drag on much longer, but it’s definitely not fun to watch right now. Regardless, he’s still Troy Caupain, so he impacted the game in other ways. His stat line included seven rebounds, three assists, and a steal. He’s also clearly the leader of this team. Even if he isn’t scoring, things just don’t quite work as well when he’s on the bench.
  • The three-point shooting is still not great, although a lot of that has to do with the aforementioned shooting struggles from Caupain. UC shot 6-for-17 against Penn State, but Troy led with five attempts, making just one. I wish they looked better from outside, but you have to believe this team will regress to the mean and shoot a bit better moving forward.
  • Kevin Johnson is still floundering, and seems to have lost all confidence in himself. He stepped up and knocked down a pretty three-pointer in the second half, but he passed up a couple open shots earlier. He finished with just three points on 1-for-4 shooting and 0-for-2 at the line. He did have three steals without a turnover, but it still feels like some kind of roster adjustment is imminent.
  • Free throw shooting needs to be better. The Bearcats only got themselves 10 shots at the charity stripe, which isn’t that great. Worse, they only made five of them. All five misses were by guards, three by seniors. Inexcusable.

The Bearcats return to Clifton for a Wednesday game against the Samford Bulldogs at 7 PM on ESPN3. I’d like to see UC use the next two outings against soft opponents to break Troy and Kevin out of their funks before a brutal road game at Iowa State to open December.