| The News Record)
With a soft Bowling Green team sandwiched — along with finals week — between an exhausting, emotional win at Iowa State and an upcoming battle on the road against Butler, many thought “trap game.” Instead, UC handled business and eased their way past the Falcons. Here’s what happened:
(Busy day. GIFs coming in a bit.)
- Justin Jenifer is really coming into his own. We’ve been fooled in the past, so I typically don’t count on young, role players blossoming into solid contributors in a single offseason, but Jenifer has been a pleasant surprise. Last night was his birthday, and he celebrated with a career-best 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including a thrilling buzzer beater to end the first half. I cautiously floated the idea during the Bellarmine game that Justin just might be able to be a solid piece that could help the Bearcats down the stretch. Eight games later, and I’ve seen nothing to disprove that. What a pleasant surprise for this doubtful fan.
- Kyle Washington is such a nice dimension for this team, especially when he’s scoring efficiently like he did last night. He scored a career-high 24 points on 11-for-13 shooting in just 23 minutes. That stat-line is preposterous, especially at Cincinnati. Big men in Clifton simply do not do that. Kyle’s proven to be less of a factor against top-flight competition, which is understandable. In the AAC, he’ll still get plenty of chances to absolutely feast on weak teams.
- Troy Caupain is back! 12 points against Bowling Green tied his season-high, but he did it on a spiffy 5-of-8 shooting, including 5-of-6 inside the arc. He had a couple nice and ones, made both of his free throws, and sweetened the pot with four rebounds, four assists, and zero turnovers. This awakening is coming at a perfect time, because the ‘Cats are gonna need him against Butler.
- Nysier Brooks is still a diamond in the rough. I’m not ready to say anything outlandish about such a small piece of the team, but I think he’s the best end-of-the-bench player UC has had in years. Usually big men who get eight minutes a night are just about worthless. Brooks manages to play well in short bursts, which is hard for a young player, especially one who never gets enough burn to get into an offensive rythym.
- The Bearcats (brilliantly) broke a Bowling Green press. The play included just one dribble. Something about teams doing that so easily is hilarious to me. Needless to say, the Falcons didn’t try another one all night.
- Zach Tobler hit his first career three pointer. It was probably the loudest the arena got all night. The place erupted.
- The postgame press conference was good, as usual. Like I said last week, you should be watching these.
- There weren’t any major ones. Any downsides of last night’s game will just be nitpicks.
- Jarron Cumberland’s shooting is still spotty. This happens to lots of young kids when they get to the college level. Jacob Evans was pretty inefficient last year before blowing up this season. Cumberland will be fine. He shot just 1-for-7 last night, but threw in six rebounds, three assists, a steal, and a block to offset his cold spell.
- Quadri Moore is still struggling, fans are still hard on him, and he’s still really hard on himself. He got himself into the game last night and caught the ball at the three-point line. The whole arena groaned and he hesitated and travelled. He slammed the ball against his left hand, and took a seat on the bench. He didn’t even crack a smile when Tobler’s shot went down. When he plays confident, Quadri is just fine. In limited minutes against Iowa State, I thought he did everything right. People need to ease up on him. If we can get his confidence back, he’s talented enough to do what we need him to do.
With finals coming this week for the players, there’s just one game. It’s on the road in Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse. Get ready for Iowa State part two. It’s gonna be a battle.