The Bearcats blew the brakes off the Tulane Green Wave, 78-49, to clinch their second conference championship in five seasons. I don't know if anyone else feels the same, but I think it's pretty satisfying that the team won the conference and nobody really cared, aside from those who apparently collect Enquirer front pages. It's the same old story, but this program has come lightyears in the past decade. Nobody feels satisfied with a regular season championship, and they shouldn't be. That's pretty cool.
Anyway, here's what happened last night:
Kyle Washington is the best, man. He finished with 16 points, seven rebounds, two blocks, and perhaps his play of the year. I'm really good miss that kid and what he brings to this team, especially considering the difference in style we'll see next year at center. Because he switched schools in the middle of his career, nobody is talking about the strides he's made, but they've been massive. For example: As a freshman at NC State, he shot 44% on 4.7 attempts per game. This season, he shooting 53% on 8.6 attempts. His game is so refined, even compared to last season.
Cane Broome is Nick Van Exel 2.0 or something. He played 25 minutes (another good thing) and ripped off 13 points on 6-for-7 shooting. He's averaging 14 points on 71% shooting in his last four games. If Evans has to miss time with his injury, be glad for a kid like Broome. (More on this later.)
Keith Williams is a fill-in miracle. After Evans left with his injury, Williams played major (27!) minutes. The 6'5" guard decided he was a power forward, netting six points to go with five rebounds and two blocks. I know we got some good glimpses of Williams early in the year, but this was the first time I really saw the star potential. He's going to be an issue for teams in another year or two.
Trevon Scott is a fantastic bench player. He dropped 10 points to go with six rebounds in just 17 minutes. I'll save you from a speech here (or maybe I'll write a separate post) but look at some of his recent numbers. The kid is a Swiss army knife. Even the announcers last night knew it.
The defense finally felt like Cincinnati defense. Tulane leads the American in pace, so I had some worries about how the Bearcats would be able to stop them in their current slump. It wasn't an issue, as the Green Wave shot just 31% on the night and scored just 49 points.
Jacob Evans got hurt. This is pretty much the worst thing that could happen, although it appears to be minor. It's an ankle sprain, which can vary wildly depending on severity. Considering that Evans was back on the bench before halftime without any ice on his ankle, I think we're okay. However, let's say he's hurt and can't start the Wichita game Sunday. Here's where Broome is huge. You can bring him in to replace Jenifer and add Williams or Moore to keep some athleticism and length. A lineup of Broome, Cumberland, Moore/Williams, Clark, and Washington is not as good as our starting lineup, but it's pretty damn good considering it's missing a future NBA pick.
Gary had just four points, making Thursday his least productive outing of the year and the worst since that train-wreck game at UCF last season. I think most of Gary's issues in this one were forgivable seeing as he didn't have to do a single thing more than he did. Tulane was getting wiped. I fully expect Gary to bounce back Sunday.
Well, this is it, everyone. We're in crunch time. Put up or shut up. Do or die.
We're officially to the point where every remaining game is important. Sunday's matchup with the Shockers will be a titanic clash before the Bearcats head off to Orlando where they'll need to at least reach the AAC title game to lock up their seed.
We're nine days from Selection Sunday and I still feel like I just watched the Bearcats beat Savannah State. This has to be the fastest season I can remember.
Just keep winning.