The Eagles came into the game winless and looked to score an upset on the road. However, from the tip, Cincinnati's size and athleticism advantage was evident. With that advantage, Cincinnati crashed the boards, gaining a 29-16 advantage, and used a hot shooting first half, hitting 8-15 behind the three-point line, to gain a 52-23 lead going into half time.
Junior Sean Kilpatrick led the team with 19 points in the first half, but it was the play of Cashmere Wright that paced this Bearcats squad. The senior point guard had 15 points, hitting 5-5 from three, and dished out five assists with zero turnovers. Point guard play is imperative to this teams success, and when Wright has it going like he did Saturday, this team is incredibly hard to guard.
The second half saw the Bearcats go to their bench, as they had a comfortable lead for most of the game. With that bench play, Bearcat fans saw the emergence of redshirt freshman forward Shaquille Thomas. The 6-7 forward is an athletic freak had his best game of the season, finishing with 11 points and seven rebounds, while using a variety of slashing drives to the basket and some mid range shots. The development of Thomas could be crucial to this teams success going forward as it adds another body to a somewhat thin playing rotation.
The one negative from this decisive win was the turnover margin. Cincinnati failed to hold onto the ball last Thursday against Arkansas-Little Rock, committing 18 turnovers, and continued that trend on Saturday, giving away 15 more turnovers, to Maryland-Eastern Shores 13. Cincinnati needs to do a better job of taking care of the ball the closer they get to conference play, as turnovers are absolute momentum killers to a team that can thrive off of runs. The frontcourt play needs to improve as well. The trio of Cheikh Mbdoj, Titus Rubles and David Nyarsuk combined for only seven points, with all seven coming from Rubles. If this team wants to win a Big East championship, the frontcourt needs to step up and bring some offensive game to the table. The Bearcats take a week off before getting back into non-conference play when they take on the Marshall Thundering Herd next Saturday at 2pm in Fifth Third arena.