#22 Cincinnati Bearcats welcomed the #11 Iowa State Cyclones to Fifth Third Arena for pre Christmas treat for Bearcat nation. So how did the Bearcats perform in primetime action on Tuesday.
The Bearcats came into Tuesday’s matchup with Iowa State looking at the game as a barometer as to where they are as a team. Going up against a Cyclones team ranked 11th in the nation, the Bearcats and head coach Mick Cronin showed the nation they were ready for the challenge.
Things didn’t start out well for the home team. The Cyclones jumped out to a 14-2 lead and led by as many as 13 points in the first half. The Bearcats were being outscored in fast break points 10-0 and it looked as if the Cyclones were playing at a much faster pace than the Bearcats. Being a nationally televised game the Bearcats didn’t seemed prepared for this kind of test as they trailed by 7 at halftime.
The most glaring stat of all was the Bearcats 7 turnovers. There was no patience in the offense and they only got to the free throw line 4 times. The ball movement wasn’t there either as they only had 5 assists at the half.
The Bearcats held the Cyclones scoreless from the field over the last two minutes of the first half, which was a positive sign that the defense was starting to come alive.
In the second half the Bearcats came out playing with much more intensity offensively and defensively. The ball movement was much better and it led to 12 attempts at the free throw line in the second half. The bench production was improved as the Bearcats outscored the Cyclones 28-12 led by Jacob Evans with 14 points. Kevin Johnson returned back to form with 8 points on 3-4 shooting.
Troy Caupain led the Bearcats with 18 points on 6-14 shooting. He also had 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Gary Clark played much better as he scored 6 points in the second half finishing with 10 for the game and 9 rebounds.
So as we came down the stretch the Bearcats and Cyclones were in an intense battle in the closing moments. The Cyclones have shown they are one of the top teams in the nation and the Bearcats were trying to prove they belong in that conversation. A close game like this the most important element of the game is offensive execution. The Bearcats came up short down the stretch in the offensive execution phase of the game. They had two bad turnovers by Caupain and Ellis in the final two minutes which led to Cyclones points. It was the story of night as the Cyclones had 12 points off turnovers. The Bearcats showed resilience, but came up just short 81-79 as Farad Cobb’s heave at the buzzer clanked off the rim.
The Bearcats will start conference play as they host Temple next Tuesday.