Two Cents and Sense: Cincinnati Bearcats vs Memphis

[photo by Emily Witt | OhVarsity!]

[photo by Emily Witt | OhVarsity!]

This team is insane.

The Bearcats overcame an 11-point second-half deficit in Memphis, and I’m running out of adjectives to describe what we’re seeing in this 20-3 start.

Nothing was going right for the Bearcats for swaths of Thursday’s game. Eliel Nsoseme got hurt in practice Wednesday, and Nysier Brooks worked himself into foul trouble early in the game. The box score showed it. The Bearcats shot the lights out from deep early, but they coughed the ball up ten times in the first half, shot 3-for-7 at the line, took 13 minutes to convert a two-point field goal, and didn’t make a field goal in the last seven minutes of the first half.

Did it matter? Nope. Of course not. Why was I foolish enough to doubt a team that’s made winning these games a habit?

Keith Williams provided a spark late, at one point going on a 7-0 solo run. Jarron Cumberland started converting and-ones left and right. The abysmal defense perked up, the shoddy free-throw shooting became salvageable, and the Bearcats did what they do and cleaned the glass better than the Tigers.

The result was yet another win that looked mighty similar to what they accomplished Sunday against Temple in their last road trip.

We’ve seen more talented teams in Clifton. We’ve seen more successful teams in Clifton. I’m not sure we’ve seen a tougher team, and that’s saying a lot for a program that prides itself on this brand of fortitude. No sooner had I resigned myself to a loss early in the second half (much like I did against the Owls) than the Bearcats started getting ugly buckets, hard-fought rebounds, and timely stops. “Oh my gosh,” I thought. “They’re gonna do it again.”

They did. Once again, it wasn’t pretty. Once again, that didn’t matter. You better believe the ability to win these games will matter in the postseason.

The Bearcats are relentless, and it’s put them in position to throw down with the Houston Cougars Sunday. A top-25 matchup between teams with a combined 42-4 record. Are you having fun yet?

Stray Thoughts

  • Jarron Cumberland is cold. I think one mark of a good player is the ability to have an off night yet still turn on the jets and bury an opponent. That’s precisely what Teddy did. He had just five points in the first half, and Memphis had made him a virtual non-factor. Despite that, the kid finished with 17 points, six rebounds, and six assists. He made several of the game’s biggest plays down the stretch, including an “ice in my veins” and-one that may have been the dagger. Even when he’s not great, he manages to be fantastic. Give him the AAC Player of the Year trophy right now, for all I care.

  • Trevon Scott had a good game. He had the unenvied task of playing without Nsoseme and with Brooks in foul trouble virtually all night. He turned in 13 points, nine rebounds, and three assists while hitting a pair of threes early that helped give Cincinnati enough cushion that the late-half drought didn’t sink them.

  • Keith Williams, as mentioned above, was critical. His disappearance in the first half was a huge reason Cincinnati trailed going into the break. His emergence in the second is a huge reason they won. Nobody expected him to be this important to this team. The fact that he’s taken up the mantle is remarkable.

  • How about the bench? I just wrote about how they’d surprised me after being a source of minor worry thus far, and they continued tonight. A combined 16 points and 13 rebounds will do the trick on the road. Gorgeous.

  • I’ve already got heart palpitations over Sunday’s cage match. It's gonna be a good one. The Bearcats are in a great spot having won in Memphis. A loss would stink, but not knock this ship off course. A win would be, in a word, gargantuan.