The Bearcats are back, and they brought their offense with them. In their first game since December 22, the Bearcats walloped Tulane in the opener of the AAC slate, winning 93-61.
The game was interesting early, at least. Tulane trailed 17-14 after five minutes. Things got ugly in a hurry though, and Cincinnati used an explosive 33-9 run to take 27-point lead late in the first half.
By halftime, Jarron Cumberland and Justin Jenifer had single-handedly matched Tulane’s scoring with 28 points.
The Green Wave are miserable this year. Their #273 KenPom ranking places them last in the conference, yet it’s hard not to feel optimistic about a 48% shooting clip in an AAC game. Tulane coach Mike Dunleavy has seen the Bearcats before and he couldn’t draw up much of anything to put the brakes on a runaway Cincinnati offense.
Cumberland finished with 22 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, shooting 7-of-8 from the free throw line. Jenifer added 18 points and four rebounds while adding to his national-best assist-to-turnover ratio with five dimes and no turnovers.
The best news may be in Cane Broome’s stat line. His 17 points were the most he’s scored since Thanksgiving, and helped snap a woeful five-game streak that saw him fail to score more than four points. He shot 6-for-7 from the field, but just 0-for-1 from deep. I’ll hold off the party until last year’s 39% rate from outside starts to come around again. He’s still shooting just 17% from deep this year, and hasn’t made multiple threes in a game all season. It’s a stunning turn for one of the team’s best shooters a year ago. Cincinnati’s offensive explosion Wednesday is proof of what Broome’s contributions add to this team. They need him back.
Keith Williams, relegated to reserve duty after Broome reportedly had a good week in practice, added 10 points off the bench and looked explosive as usual. He remains one of the team’s better shot blockers, swatting a trio of shots Wednesday to go with three steals. Both led the team.
It was the kind of ho-hum blowout fans have come to expect against the bottom of the conference. The team travels to East Carolina this weekend, so more serious evaluations will have until next week’s trip to Tulsa, currently KenPom’s #124 team. Expect the wins to start piling up if the team continues to click offensively like this. The road to March is just beginning, and I’m sure Cronin appreciates the bounty of garbage minutes to test new lineups and give young guys extra time on the floor.
Rashawn Fredericks got hot early in the first half, scoring nine straight points for the Bearcats on three straight outside shots. They accounted for all of his scoring on the night, and he added three rebounds as well. Rashawn is slowly catching up to speed, and it would be nice if he gave Mick another weapon as the season wears on and rest for starters becomes essential.
Big men Trevon Scott and Nysier Brooks combined for just seven points on 3-for-13 shooting, which was weird. UC’s guards were so hot that it didn’t matter in the slightest, so I’m not worried.
10,689 showed up for the 6:30 weeknight snoozer. Yes, it’s right on the heels of New Year’s and yes it’s the conference opener, but that’s a number typically reserved for strong conference opponents in big Thursday night games. The renovations are paying dividends for attendance so far. It will be nice to see a few sellouts coming up with some nice weekend games on the horizon.
This one was, dare I say, boring. This kind of boring is good. Hopefully Saturday’s ECU matchup is more of the same.