Bearcats. Cougars. Lets Go.
This Wednesday at 7pm on CBSSN the #8 Cincinnati Bearcats (19-2, 8-0) take on the Houston Cougars (16-4, 6-2) at BB&T Arena. Of course the 39 game home winning streak and the current 12 game winning streak are on the line. The Bearcats also have the opportunity to widen the lead in the American over Houston (tied with Wichita St for second) with a win.
The Bearcats breezed by Memphis on Saturday and had a couple days to recoup and prepare for this Houston team.
Houston is led by the Man Bun himself Rob Gray. He’s their hero and leader. The senior averages 19.7 points a game and has the green light at every opportunity. In my opinion he’s one of the top 3 picks for AAC player of the year. I’d currently put him second, right behind Gary Clark. The Bearcats have to know where he is on the floor at all times. I’m guessing JE III, Teddy, and Moore will all see minutes on him. They also have Corey Davis Jr at 12.3 ppg and Devin Davis at 10.8 ppg and 6.4 rpg.
The Cougars average 79.3 points a game and shoot a crisp 46.7 % from the field. They are also all over the glass with 39.5 rebounds per game. Their two losses in conference are to Tulane (81-72) and Wichita St (81-63). The other two losses on the year were to LSU (80-77) and Drexel (84-80) ((ouch)).
The best defense in the country has to be hitting on all cylinders to tame the Cougars.
The GoBeercats Keys to the Game
- Keep it physical with Man Bun. Keep a body on him and let him earn it. 14 points or less.
- Keep turnovers to less than 10 (this is super critical) and hit free throws. (Gary had a very off night from the line against Memphis)
- Rebound, rebound, rebound.
This game is going to be won in the trenches. Offensive rebounds and turnovers will be huge for the Bearcats. Free throws will need to be hit along the way as well.
Adversity. The Bearcats seemed well in control of the Memphis Tigers on Saturday night. Until half time that is. Memphis came out determined and full of life. They cut down the Bearcats once 16 point down to single digits before the Bearcats knew what hit them. Yes it caused some high blood pressure but I was glad to see them get some resistance. So far the bad AAC teams haven’t shown that kind of life after getting down that much. The Bearcats pushed the lead back over ten and didn’t look back.
Floor General. The Bearcats have a void at the point guard right now. Justin Jenifer seems to have no confidence in his offensive abilities right now and Cane Broom is quick but isn’t up to par on the defensive side of the ball, not to mention he’s turnover prone. For the Bearcats to have one of their starting five produce zero offense leaves them vulnerable. The ‘Cats struggle scoring for stretches of games, not having a key player score at all highlights that. Cronin likes to remedy that with sliding Evans over to PG. What about starting him there and sliding Moore in for a start. He had the D and the shot, as we seen with his dagger late in the game at Memphis on Saturday.
Injury Watch. At Memphis it looked like Gary Clark may have gotten hurt at some point and we all held our breath. Dan and Terry didn’t really make much of it on the radio broadcast just stating that it might have been a shoe insert issue. Apparently Gary goes through them like he does defenses. I haven’t seen anything else about it so I’m assuming The Problem doesn’t have any. Jarron Cumberland looked just fine on Saturday as well. He twisted an ankle against Temple last week.
Rank Rising. On Monday the most recent AP poll came out having the Bearcats clock in at #8. Their highest rating this season and highest such ranking since they reached #7 in 2014. Cronin is well documented for not caring or discussing the rankings.
The Problem. Gary Clark was named the American Athletic Conference Player of the Week for the second time in a row. He continues to play at an elite level. His resume to earn the title again was nothing short of impressive. He averaged 17.5 ppg, and 9.5 rebounds. He also hit career milestones of 1000 points and 1000 rebounds. Unfortunately he broke his streak of double doubles on Saturday. He had 18 points and 9(!) rebounds. Mr. Clark is also the only player in America that ranks in the top 10 of both offensive and defensive ratings.
Bearcats Defense. Clark ranks #1 in country for his defensive rating. Although it should be noted that Kyle Washington is #5, Jacob Evans III is #6, and Jarron Cumberland is #16. Virginia is the only other team with 2 players in the top 16.
The ESPN match up predictor gives the Bearcats an 89.4% chance to win this game. The Bearcats will push the streaks.