With the Bearcats' win streak pushed to 12 games, they're now three wins from achieving the thing I've been talking about for weeks: Heading to Dallas on February 11th with a 22-2 record. The AP Poll comes out on Monday, and there's a chance the Bearcats will match the highest ranking of the Mick Cronin era. Here's how they got there:
Gary Clark continues to amaze. On Saturday he had 18 points and nine rebounds and it was his worst game in weeks. He shot 5-for-14 and snapped his double-doubles streak at four games. He seemed to struggle with the way the game was being called (more on that later) and even briefly checked out of the game with a minor injury. One thing to watch going forward: He's shooting just 10-for-19 at the line in his last two games, dragging his FT% down to just over 75%. Saturday's game was at FedEx Forum, a place Mick has talked about as being unusual for players to shoot in. Hopefully that's the bulk of Gary's issue, because his efficiency at the line has been a huge part of his potency.
Jacob Evans was having another great game before the refs (more on that later) took him out with his fifth foul. He played just 20 minutes but scored 14 on 6-for-9 shooting. Aside from the four turnovers, this was an impressive outing for Jacob. He's scored in double figures in every conference game and in 18 of 21 games this season. Oddly enough, I don't think people are appreciating how good Evans has been over the last two years, and especially the last 10 or 12 games. Every Bearcat team going forward needs a kid like this, and UC fans aren't used to relishing their time with a kid while he's a junior. We're dreading the departure of Gary Clark, as we should, but odds are probably good Jacob follows him out the door.
Cane Broome had six assists and one turnover. He has 23 assists and five turnovers in his last five games. 👀
I'm falling in love with Trevor Moore. This kid is much better than I anticipated, and the way he plays is perfect. He had eight points, three rebounds, and an assist in Memphis. What stuck out to me, and not for the first time, was his defensive energy. Stop and think about how many great defenders the Bearcats have had over the years. When's the last time you saw a guard who flexes and waves his arms and screams after forcing a turnover? The kid genuinely seems to be more excited about mucking up the opposition's offensive flow than making a shot. Moore is my favorite member of this freshman class so far, and he still hasn't nailed down what was supposed to be the best aspect of his game--the outside shot. If he can become the shooter he was advertised to be, look out.
Memphis is really bad, and it's funny. They've played two games against the Bearcats this year and did not score 100 points combined, failing to reach 50 in each game. That's pretty funny.
The officiating was absolutely dreadful. I should mention that I'm not the fan that blames the refs after every game. Check the receipts. I go off on the referees maybe once per year in football and basketball combined. That being said, here it is: This game may have been the most poorly officiated I've ever seen. The Bearcats are a very disciplined team, sitting at #42 in the country in fewest personal fouls committed with 16 per game. They were called for 27 fouls on Saturday. They haven't been rung up that many times in a game since the overtime win over Marquette in 2013. (You may remember SK's game-winner in that one.) I can't find the last time they did it in regulation, because Sports Reference data cuts off at the 2010-11 season. Jacob Evans became the first Bearcat to foul out this season. These refs were absolutely putrid.
Memphis made a run. I guess this kinda came around to a positive, but the Bearcats completely fell on their faces out of halftime, allowing Memphis to make a game of it. When you're on a 12-game winning streak, this type of micro-adversity is probably a good thing, but UC's tendency to hit a dry patch for 6-10 minutes in each game will cost them against a good team. It's worrying.
KenPom gives the Bearcats an 84% chance or better in their next three games with the most difficult coming Wednesday night against Houston. Don't let up. Just keep winning.