The Bearcats ticked off the first box on their AAC Tournament journey on Friday, earning a sleepy 61-51 win over the hobbled SMU Mustangs. With a bigger game looming tomorrow, I won't write much about what happened in this one, but here it is:
Jarron Cumberland was great, despite shooting 0-for-4 and scoring zero points. The sophomore continued his largely-unheralded tear by grabbing five boards and dishing out eight assists in the win. He's the last thing you'll notice on the box score and he was instrumental on a day in which the Bearcats didn't have much going. These types of performances bode well for his future at Cincinnati because they've taught him how to be a complete player. With fewer scoring opportunities this season, given UC's strength at the top of its lineup, he's been great at finding other ways to impart his will on games.
Kyle Washington is back. After a tough (but still impactful) outing in Wichita, Kyle led UC on Friday with 15 points and seven rebounds. The Bearcats had no outside game to speak of, and Kyle's off-kilter brand of post moves were back to doing the trick after they weren't quite falling in Kansas.
Gary Clark had a double-double. He is a problem.
Cane Broome is really, really good and his play in the last few weeks has my mouth watering. He's exactly what the Bearcats will need down the home stretch. He's been in uniform for just 32 games as a Bearcat, yet I already struggle to remember life without him. A few years ago (or even last year) I'd have killed for a player who could simply go get buckets. Now they have one and he's cresting at the perfect moment.
Evans was a ghost, largely. He couldn't quite put it together Friday, but fortunately Mick got him some rest. The junior played just 24 minutes, chipping in some production in the form of three rebounds and a pair of assists to go with just two points on 1-for-4 shooting. Jake will obviously be instrumental later this weekend and into the tourney, but I know better than to freak out over one (bizarre) game, especially after the display he put on against the Shockers.
Friday was nothing more than a stepping stone on Cincinnati's road to Selection Sunday. With the last two seed up for grabs the Bearcats are in good shape. Win Saturday and they should be all but locked into that spot.