In our interview with University of Cincinnati head coach Andy Kennedy this week he stressed the Cats needed to shot the ball over 40% for them to have a chance to win games the remainder of the season. Well that statement is very true when you look at the stat sheet after the Bearcats trailed the Miami Redhawks at the half in their 114th battle.
With James White having his worst night of the season and Armein Kirkland not doing much better, the Bearcats looked to guards Devan Downey and Jihad Muhammad to help power them over the pesky rival. Downey would score 19 points on 4 - 7 shooting and going 9-9 from the charity stripe. Muhammad shot 6-11 (3-6- 3pts) for 15 on the night. But while Downey would be the easy choice to be the team's spark plug for the night, Muhammad was the key with his pushing offensive style and aggressive defense. For the night Jihad dished out 4 assists to go along with 2 blocks and 1 steal.
Coach Kennedy had the following to say about Muhammad. "I thought Muhammad was the difference in the game," Kennedy stated. "I'd like to see it every game. He was great on the ball. He's always been a good on-the-ball defender. He showed that energy in the second half." "That's being a senior," Muhammad responded when asked about his performance. "That's senior leadership--just taking charge."
But not to be left out of the action, the Bearcats saw Eric Hicks and Cedric McGowan both hit double figures with Hicks getting 4 blocks. McGowan showed no ill effects to his injured shoulder and played a total of 34 minutes.
Miami was led by William Hatcher with 26 points as he shot 11-of-17 from the field.
The Bearcats head out of U.S Bank Arena and back to Clifton with a victory, but if not for a better shooting performance in the second half they would have seen their third loss of the season. As a team the Bearcats shot only 37.9% in the first half while Miami heated up the nets at 45.5%. But what Kennedy said to the team at the half was, it worked. UC would shut down Miami and hold them to 32.3% shooting for the second half and 39.1% for the game. UC hit for 37.9% in the first half and came out and shot 63.2% for the second half with a 47.9% for the game.
The Bearcats add another W in the victory column and will prepare to finish out the pre-Big East schedule with North Carolina A&T enters Fifth Third Arena on Friday night.
Bearcat Insider Player of the Game
Jihad Muhammad - Guard
Jihad was a key spark in the resurgence of the Bearcats in the second half.