CINCINNATI ROMPS PAST MUSTANGS

by Dan M | Posted on Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

Image result for SMU vs Cincinnati                                                               BY:  Dic Humphrey                                                                                                                                                                             MEMBER:  United States Basketball Writers Association

The Cincinnati Bearcats romped to an easy 65-43 win over the SMU Mustangs Tuesday night in the newly remodeled Fifth Third Arena on the University of Cincinnati campus.  Cincinnati came out with much better energy than SMU as they scored the first eight points and never trailed in the game.  The Mustangs failed to hit a field goal in the first 10 minutes falling behind by 13 points.  SMU made one solid run to cut the lead to four points, but Cincinnati rallied back to lead by 15 at halftime and were never really challenged again.  The loss ended SMU’s three game winning streak.  They fall to 5-3 in conference play and 15-5 for the season.  Cincinnati took sole possession of third place in the conference race with the win.  They are 6-2 in conference and 13-7 for the season.

This was SMU’s worst game of the season.  Cincinnati has long been known as a really good defensive team under former Head Coach Mick Cronin.  Under Cronin’s replacement, John Brannon, the defense is still really good, but they are a much better offensive unit.  Cincinnati struggled early in the season as players adjusted to Brannon’s style of play.  Plus, last season’s American Athletic Conference Player of the Year – Jarron Cumberland was injured.  This team looks to be on the upswing now.  They have caught on to Brannon’s system, and Cumberland is healthy.  Tuesday night, he scored a career high 28 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Cincinnati in both categories.  Keith Williams was the only other double digit scorer for the Bearcats with 13 points, and Tre Scott matched Cumberland’s nine rebounds.

“They (Cincinnati) played fantastic first of all,” Head Coach Tim Jankovich said after the game.  “I don’t know if they could have possibly played better.  Something else that went really right for them is they’ve been waiting on (Cumberland).  Tonight, he was the guy he was last year.  I think he’s really getting healthy and confident. That really went wrong for us on the defensive end.  On the other side of the ball, obviously I thought we played poorly, but at the same time….we just couldn’t make any shots.  We had too many guys having a rough night.  I do think their defense was outstanding.  We just weren’t sharp in any way.  We never got any rhythm.  Very tough day.  Give them credit, but also, we should take some of the blame as well.”

The Mustangs were miserable shooting the ball.  They were 6-25 (24%) from the field in the first half to manage just 19 points, their lowest scoring first half of the season.  They weren’t much better in the second half shooting 8-29 (27.6%) from the field.  Three SMU starters – leading scorer Kendric Davis, Isiah Jasey and Emmanuel Bandoumel – failed to score at all.  Tyson Jolly led SMU with 16 points.  C. J. White came off the Ponies’ bench to be the only other double digit scorer with 11 points.  It was clearly White’s best game as a Mustang as he added a career high six assists to his point total.  Jolley and White combined to hit six of the eight three-point baskets SMU made in the game.  Davis was the Mustangs’ leading rebounder with seven boards.

SMU returns home this weekend to host the Tulane Green Wave.  Tulane is 10-9 on the season and 2-5 in conference play.  Prior to coming to Dallas, they host Central Florida Wednesday night.  Saturday’s game time at Moody Coliseum is 7:00 PM Central, and it will be televised on ESPNU.

NOTABLE:

  • Kendric Davis was named to this week’s American Athletic Conference Honor roll.  It was the third time he has received the honor in the last four weeks.  He scored 35 points in the Mustangs’ two games last week including 20 points in last Saturday’s upset of then number 20 Memphis.
  • SMU is now 5-14 all-time against Cincinnati.  The Mustangs have never won a game against the Bearcats in Cincinnati, which includes last year’s meeting played in Northern Kentucky while the Bearcats’ home court was remodeled.  Cincinnati is one of four conference teams that the Mustangs face just once in the regular season this year.
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