Two Cents and Sense: Cincinnati Bearcats vs Tulsa (Round 2)

[photo by Emily Witt | OhVarsity!]

[photo by Emily Witt | OhVarsity!]

In the Mick Cronin Tournament era (since 2010-11), the most three-pointers in a game by any player is eight. Sean Kilpatrick lit up Chicago State way back in November 2012. Behind that performance are 15 times a Bearcat has made six three-pointers. On that list are players like Jarron Cumberland, Farad Cobb, Cashmere Wright, and Dion Dixon. Joining them on Thursday was Justin Jenifer. His 6-for-10 performance from deep against Tulsa jumps off the page, and it powered UC to a resounding 88-64 victory in Clifton.

All of this, of course, would’ve been seen as insane a few months ago. 17-3. 6-1 in the conference. An AdjO rank that surpasses any seen in Clifton since the days of Tony Bobbitt and Field Williams. Jenifer played 36 games a year ago, making just 30 outside shots at a respectable 35.7% clip. He’s blown the lid off this year. In just 19 games, he’s already made 35 threes and is knocking them down at an unbelievable 46.7%. He’s 18-for-36 in conference play.

Of course, this emergence from Jenifer is a huge reason Cincinnati is where they are: “Rebuilding,” while picking off conference opponents one by one.

Another reason is Trevon Scott. The junior scored 13 points on 6-for-7 shooting while flashing an impressive mid-range game. He even connected on a three-pointer. Toss in 11 rebounds and you’ll see why John Thompson III was gushing over him on the ESPN broadcast.

Jarron Cumberland led the way with a quiet 23 points, five assists, and four rebounds. He hit five threes of his own.

While Cane Broome went scoreless in the second half, he led the team at halftime with 10 points. He also hit a three pointer, which is always encouraging given his struggles this season. He turned the ball over just once while dishing out three assists and notching two steals. Consider Thursday a step in the right direction for him.

I wrote after the Wichita State game that I’d feel much better about this team’s “under-performing” stretch against some mediocre conference teams if they hammered Tulsa on their second try. They did just that. The scoring was there. The defense looked about as sturdy as it has all season. The Bearcats won the rebounding battle 44 to 26.

The remaining stretch is downright tantalizing, starting with Sunday’s match-up in Philly against a sturdy Temple team. The Bearcats have 11 games remaining in the regular season. Eight of them are against top-100 KenPom teams. One of the sub-100 games (SMU) is on the road in a tough environment, making it hardly a freebie.

Mick Cronin’s surprising team will be put to the test over the next six weeks. So far, they appear to be built for the challenge. Things are about to get fun. I can’t wait.

Stray Thoughts

  • 20 assists on 32 made field goals. That’s more like it.

  • The free throw shooting vanished for the second time this month. The ‘Cats shot just 10-for-20 Thursday. They also shot 8-for-18 in the loss at East Carolina. Their season average of 71.1% is still above the national average, but it’s weird how it all seems to disappear at times.

  • Seriously, this team has the nation’s #30 offense and the #36 defense. Absolutely surreal.