Lots of space for shooters
SMU's 3-point defense reverted back to its early season form. Defenders looked confused on several of Cincinnati's made 3s, frequently cheating off shooter, sagging too much or over-rotating. The Bearcats first-half lead (at one point a 15-point advantage) was fueled by a 6-for-9 start from 3-point distance. Cincinnati has better shooters than previous seasons, but Troy Caupain and Kevin Johnson, two of the team's less effective shooters, did a lot of the early damage. On one of Caupain's first-half 3s, all he and Johnson did was pass to each other on the wing without any type of ball screen, but Shake Milton and Ben Emelogu over-rotated to create space. Both of them were caught too far off a shooter or with their hand down on the perimeter.
Not much went right offensively for SMU in the first half. The Mustangs went nearly six minutes without a field goal during Cincinnati's 16-0 run. Of those 16 points, 10 game in a little over three minutes. That's easy to do when SMU's offensive possessions only produce one shot and don't involve any offensive rebounds. SMU had just one offensive board in the last 15 minutes of the first half. SMU was reluctant to work toward the basket for much of the first half and didn't get a lot of great looks after the first few minutes.
In the second half, SMU got better looks. Many resulted from collapsing the defense on dribble drives, or came in transition. Ben Emelogu missed one of the better looks SMU had - a transition 3 that would have pulled SMU within 3 points with 10:19 left. But Emelogu also created space for Sterling Brown to make a layup when he drove toward the basket, collapsed the defense, allowing Brown to follow right in his path. Emelogu, interestingly, attracted three defenders on another take, then found Jarrey Foster for a 3. Foster's 3 with 44 seconds left came when Ben Moore passed out from the paint and found him in the corner.
Gary Clark creates problems
Cincinnati's junior forward and reigning AAC defensive player of the year made an impact on both ends of the floor. He missed only one shot, scored 18 points and locked down Semi Ojeleye (zero first-half FGs) for much of the game. Ojeleye finished with 12 points, but needed 11 shots to get here and only attempted four inside the 3-point line. Clark had two easy dunks in the second half when SMU's defense broke down, a result of a defender turning around or going to the wrong man. Clark made a pair of 3-pointers when SMU gave him space, converted every two-point attempt and even had two assists. On one, Clark kicked out to Kyle Washington for a jumper when Ojeleye helped off Washington and toward him when he got he ball in the paint.