The worst has come. The Bearcats have followed up their 16-game winning streak by losing back-to-back games. The infamous home winning streak is over. The Bearcats got split in half by a scorching hot Wichita offense. I want to cry. Here's what happened:
I think we solved the point guard issue. Cane Broome had his best game as a Bearcat, scoring 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting in 28 minutes. Give him 28 minutes every night. He's proven to be a slightly better defensive player than Jenifer and he brings an offensive spark that Jenifer doesn't have in his game. My biggest "issue" with Broome to this point has been turnovers, but he's settled down nicely and hasn't had three turnovers in a game since the AAC opener on January 7th. Whether he starts is largely irrelevant, but I think he should be getting 25+ minutes every night.
We're not dead yet. After the Houston loss, I said the margin for error was virtually non-existent. After Sunday, it is not-existent. My goal since November has been a 3-seed for UC. It's still on the table, but it'll take perfection until Selection Sunday. It's not ideal, but it's better than nothing. UC can still win the conference and get a good seed. At the end of the day, that's all you can really ask for.
This team doesn't quit. For the second game in a row, they were on the cusp of victory against a good team because of pure effort. Say what you want about execution, but take solace in the fact that this team refuses to roll over in games where it would be easy to. The Bearcats went 0-2 last week, but not for lack of trying.
The arena sounded great on TV. Good job, everyone. You did your part.
Cincinnati lost because of their defense, and it isn't the first time this year. I'm not sure what to make of this, but it doesn't feel like a good thing. By defensive efficiency, Sunday's game was UC's second worst of the season, trailing only the Shootout. Wichita shot a blistering 53%, the best at home against UC this season. When your team is built around defense, you better bring that defense. You can find three of UC's losses by looking at their four worst defensive games (by efficiency). They better get back to being the #2 defensive team in the country, because that's how this team is built to work. The offense did its part...
Good offense wasn't good enough. The Bearcats have lost a couple games this year while playing poorly on offense and defense––see: Florida and Houston. Sunday was not one of those times. Cincinnati's offensive efficiency was 109.5. Coming into the game, the Bearcats were 34-1 since the start of last season when playing at that efficiency on the offensive end. (The loss was to URI last year.) They haven't lost at home with a 109.5 offensive efficiency since the Temple and Iowa State games that occurred just before the 39-game home win streak began, and the Butler game earlier that month is in the same boat. This means that UC's last four home losses dating back to December 2015 were a result of poor defense, not offense. This is a really long-winded way of saying that I don't understand the post-game gripe from the fans based around offense. Yes, UC has lost games in the last two years because of poor offense. Sunday was not one of those times.
What was up with Kyle Washington? He played just 17 minutes, despite playing well early. My only guess is that he was getting bullied by Shaq Morris, but Morris seemed to bully everyone. I like the guys we have at the top, and I think they should get as many minutes as possible. Washington was a huge part of that 16-game streak, and it felt like Mick really helped Wichita by removing him from the equation.
The turnovers were bad. Jacob Evans had four and Jarron Cumberland had three. You can't do that against against good teams like Wichita. The defense couldn't lock down the Shockers and that simply gave them more possessions.
The home win streak is over, snapped at 39 games. I have plenty of reasons to be disappointed with this game, and this is a big one.
It's time for some soul searching. The Bearcats lost their way at some point and are officially out of time to regain it. The potential is still the same. We know what this team is capable of when everything is moving in the right direction, and it's still better to figure it out in February than in March. We're out of wake-up calls and excuses. The talent is there, just go win.
The Bearcats have a home game against UConn on Thursday, and KenPom predicts a 21-point win. Figure things out and blast the Huskies. The Bearcats haven't lost three games in a row since February 2015. Get back to winning.