That’s more like it. The Bearcats got back on track on Tuesday in the Caymans by smothering the life out of the Richmond Spiders. The A-10 school finished the night with 48 points and that was after they kept pace with the Bearcats in the second half. This was a 27-point win that didn’t feel that close. The Bearcats held a team to an inflated 48 points. This is what I hope most of our AAC games will feel like. Here’s what happened:
The Bearcats shared the load. When we get deep into conference play and this team is realistically scoring 75–85 points a night instead of 102, this is probably a good model. Cincinnati’s high scorer had 13, and only one other player was in double figures. Seven different players hit multiple shots. This is what makes the Bearcats better this year than in past years.
Gary Clark is a problem. After the Buffalo game I wrote about how even Gary’s “bad” games have a tendency to be pretty damn good. Here’s one against Richmond. He played just 20 minutes and shot 2-for-5 but finished with eight points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. He didn’t even make an inside shot. I would’ve loved to see him play a typical 30–33 minutes because he was on track for a triple-double.
Gary can play in multiple ways. I wanted to break this observation into a second part because it deserves its own recognition. Gary Clark demolished Buffalo, and Richmond took notice. They were intent on stopping Gary with everything they could muster, but Gary is smart enough not to play into that. He’s a dominant inside player who took just two inside shots on Tuesday because he wasn’t getting those opportunities in the post. He’d catch in the paint, wait for the defenders to swarm, and kick it out for an open three-pointer. That’s why he finished with seven assists an no two-pointers. That’s why he shot 2-for-3 from outside and just 0-for-2 inside. Gary is a smart player and totally adapted to — and exploited — Richmond’s defensive game plan. I loved it.
Trevor Moore flashed some greatness. I love the potential that Trevor brings to this team, but we really haven’t seen him jump off the page yet like the other freshman. On Tuesday, he fixed that. Coming off the bench, Moore finished with nine points, eight rebounds, and three assists. His Offensive Rating of 143 was the best by a Cincinnati freshman this season. The Bearcats will be fantastic if they can get these kinds of efforts from him.
Jacob Evans continues to be pretty good, not pretty great. Again, I want to be clear that the only reason I keep singling him out is because I think he should be held to a higher standard. On Tuesday he turned in 12 points, four assists, and two blocks on 5-for-8 shooting in 22 minutes. Perfectly fine, but nothing amazing by his standards. I have a feeling we’ll start to see Jacob blossom against tougher competition.
The free throw shooting stayed pretty strong. The team shot 12-for-17, good for about 71%. I’m not happy with that number of attempts, but at least the efficiency feels somewhat sustainable. Instead of fluctuating between 78% and 55%, just give me 71% every single game and we can make it work.
Sam Martin, a person who I am already growing to love, scored some points. He got fouled and knocked down both free throws. After the game, Mick let it slip that he thinks Martin could be an actual contributor by his junior year. Having seen him play a few minutes, I can’t say I disagree. The kid seems like he can play, and he’s at UC on a full-ride academic scholarship. The Baby Face Killa has a future with this program.
#BartyParty buzzer beater splashdown. This was fantastic.
Cane Broome still hasn’t found his groove. He’s not playing poorly, it’s just that he’s been fluctuating between slow offensive games and high turnover games. He had the latter on Tuesday, shooting a nifty 5-for-7 in 23 minutes but also committing five turnovers. He also seemed to be afraid to shoot from outside, two or three times passing up good looks and finishing the night without a three-point attempt. We knew there’d be an adjustment period, and I’m not worried. That being said, it would be great if he stabilized a bit in these next two games before the murderous early-December stretch.
The turnovers in general remain rough. Broome had five and Jenifer had three. Your point guards having twice as many turnovers as they do assists is not something you want to see. (I’m rhyming now.) Thankfully, Mick hates turnovers more than anything in this world. If there’s one guy who can break them of this habit, it’s him.
The defense let up at the end. I know this is really nitpicky, but Richmond probably should’ve been held under 40 points. Just saying.
The Bearcats have one final chapter in the Cayman Islands Classic on Wednesday night as they play for the championship against the Wyoming Cowboys. The Bearcats and Cowboys haven’t met since 1995, when Cincinnati won 101–51. In 1994, we had the infamous LaZelle Durden game in Laramie. These two teams share a long history of Wyoming getting embarrassed. I’m excited for this game.