Cane Broome has always been a fairly hot-and-cold player, but usually he can bounce back and forth between cold games and use his outside shot to offset his ability to attack the rim. He shot 39% from deep last year.
He’s really struggled this year, to say the least. He’s done well to force the issue in the lane in several games, but his outside shot hasn’t been there since Day 1, and he shot just 16% from deep in the first 15 games. Thursday night looked to be more of the same. He started the game 0-for-4 from outside—and while he did well to distribute the ball—it looked like we’d get another frustrating chapter in the mystery of his lost jumper.
Then the tables turned.
With 2:23 remaining in the second half and the Bearcats trailing by five points, the dam started to break. With 23 (!!) seconds on the shot clock, Cane shifted to the top of the key and drained one. Tulsa immediately answered with one of their own, followed by another point at the foul line on the next possession.
With a minute left and UC trailing by six points, Cane caught a feed from Trevon Scott at the top of the key again and confidently drained another. The Bearcats got the ball back on their next possession down three points and Cane penetrated, stopped on a dime, turned, and tossed it in.
On a night were nothing had gone right in Tulsa, and the Golden Hurricane had shot the roof off, the Bearcats were suddenly within a point. Another Tulsa free throw would stretch the lead to two and a Hurricane foul with five seconds left set up an opportunity for UC to change the outcome.
Cumberland caught the inbound and dumped it off to Cane who again rose and drained the game’s tying shot with just over a second remaining. The guy who couldn’t buy a bucket had scored his team’s final 14 points in regulation, the only Cincinnati points in the final eight and a half minutes. The Bearcats were going to overtime with all the momentum.
The extra period was breezy considering the 40 minutes that preceded it. The Bearcats fell behind three points on the first Tulsa possession but used a 10-2 run to build a six-point lead that felt comparatively insurmountable.
Jarron Cumberland connected on a three from the corner before converting an old-school three-point play in transition. However, it was his job locating Trevor Moore for a three to give the Bearcats a four-point lead that proved to be the dagger. A Scott lay-in and a Logan Johnson free throw iced it, and the Bearcats escaped Oklahoma victorious.
You’d be crazy not to worry about how this team has played on the road so far. The UNLV game was a mess UC salvaged. The Mississippi State game was a beatdown. The ECU game was a horror movie. Thursday’s tilt felt like Danny Ocean’s heist at the Bellagio. Their performance at home since the season-opening loss has been mostly inspiring, but teams in bad conferences don’t earn good tournament seeding while dropping road games left and right. Until the final minutes, Cincinnati was ice cold from deep. Meanwhile, their last two opponents have nearly blazed a trail to 2-0 from behind the arc, shooting 23-for-45—good for 51%. That’s an issue. So is giving up an average of 69 points over the last two outings to a mediocre team and a downright lousy one.
Having said that (and acknowledging I’m a foolish optimist) didn’t it feel like something clicked in the final minutes in Tulsa? The question marks remain, but this team looks a helluva lot better when they’re making timely shots, getting help from Broome, and stirring the drink with Cumberland like they did in overtime.
Mick Cronin says the team is reeling from a bout of the stomach flu (freshman LaQuill Hardnett was too sick to even leave the hotel for Thursday’s game) which makes this gutty win feel a little bit better… especially with a pair of home games looming.
Torrential Tulsa shooting, stomach flu, mounting pressure following a stinker against ECU? The Bearcats figured it out anyway.
There was a lot we didn’t know about this team in early November, but I was positive they wouldn’t be boring. At least I was right about one thing.
Cumberland sat for much of the first half after picking up his second person foul on a bogus double technical call. I disagreed with that call and I continue to disagree with the arbitrary rule put in place by many college coaches that says you must sit any player for the remainder of the first half if he accrues two fouls. That’s all I’ll say.
Trevor Moore was big for the Bearcats tonight. His resurgence will be overshadowed by Broome’s, but he was crucial as well. He must be flipping the switch in practice (or maybe he was just a flu-free player tonight) because he got off the bench early and propelled the Bearcats with a 3-for-7 performance from outside to go with three rebounds, three steals, and no turnovers.
Joining Moore in the Overshadowed Club is Scott. His 12 points and nine rebounds were big, as was both the assist to Broome with a minute left in regulation and the final field goal of the game that allowed me to exhale.
Seriously, what a night for Cane Broome. 16 points, six assists, and two steals off the bench. That was big.
Logan Johnson nearly broke the backboard with a chase down block:
This was a heart-stopping, exciting victory. There’s a big one looming Saturday night against UConn. See you at The Shoe.