#22 Cincinnati Bearcats opened up conference play Tuesday with a matchup against the Temple Owls. After a tough loss to Iowa State last week could the Bearcats redeem themselves and get back to their winning ways?
The Bearcats came into Tuesday’s matchup with Temple looking to start out conference play on a good note after taking Iowa State to the wire. The Owls sitting at 5-5 came into the game as the underdog and the Bearcats were the overwhelming favorite. So it is natural to think the Bearcats should have an easy day the office right? Not so fast and the famous quote that’s why they play the game applied to the game played at Fifth Third Arena Tuesday afternoon.
Things started well for the home team on the offensive end. The Bearcats raced out to a 16-9 lead after two Octavius Ellis free throw shots. Early on the ball was moving and the shots the team made were good efficient shots. In the first half they led by as many as seven points and had 6 assists. So far this season the Bearcats haven’t really pushed the pace much, but in the first half they had 7 fast break points.
On this day offense wasn’t the problem. Mick Cronin’s team never has an issue scoring the basketball with guys like Troy Caupain, Jacob Evans and Shaq Thomas on the roster. Defense and rebounding is where this team has struggled. Once again the little things that matter like boxing out didn’t get it done. They gave up 11 second chance points in the first half. That’s effort not skill. They trailed at the half 39-37 after leading most of the half.
In the second half unlike the Iowa State game the Bearcats energy level just wasn’t there. They had 6 crucial turnovers compared to only 2 in the first half. They had no problems offensively other than turnovers. They scored the basketball consistently to keep up with Temple, but the achilles heal for this team all season long has been getting timely stops on the defensive end to create easy scoring opportunities for themselves. The Owls had a total of 19 second chance points. Same results just a different day for the Bearcats as they fell to the Owls 77-70
Troy Caupain led the Bearcats with 19 points and 7 assists. Octavius Ellis and Shaq Thomas came off the bench today which Cronin said was because of how ugly yesterday’s practice session went. Ellis finished with 12 points and 7 rebounds.
The Bearcats will continue with conference play as Tulsa visits Fifth Third Arena on Saturday at 4pm.