Fresh off a victory on the road against UCF, the Cincinnati Bearcats (10-6, 3-1) established their first win streak since early December with back-to-back wins. Their defeat of UCF in Orlando marked the first road accomplishment for the Bearcats under new coach John Brannen. His Bearcats will enter the Forum as 5 point underdogs to the Tigers.
Cincinnati’s best win of the season came at home against what used to be a good Tennessee team. The Bearcats have taken some tough losses this year against Bowling Green and Colgate among others.
After Wichita State’s loss on Wednesday to Temple, there is a 4-way tie for first place in the American Athletic Conference among teams who are 3-1, Cincinnati being one of them. Memphis sits in 5th place with a conference record of 2-1, having played the fewest conference games to date in the American.
On Wednesday coach Penny Hardaway spent a few minutes with the media and cleared up some items of interest. He said that he will keep the starting lineup the same as it was against USF: Lomax, Jeffries, Quinones, Achiuwa, and Dandridge. Isiah Maurice went from the starting five to spending zero minutes on the floor against the Bulls. Lance Thomas played sparingly and Precious Achiuwa earned most of his minutes at center, even though he has said that is not his desired position. Regardless, he has been destroying opposing teams and elevating his draft stock. Achiuwa is currently averaging 15.6 points and 10.4 rebounds to go along with 2 blocks per game.
Coach Hardaway was a little curt with the media when asked if he was concerned about players’ egos when they were forced to the bench. This was a question concerning the insertion of Alex Lomax into the lineup in the place of Boogie Ellis. Hardaway said that he can’t be worried about players’ feelings and must do what is best for the team. We have seen his rotations tighten up to about 7 or 8 main guys instead of the 9 or 10 he was trying to get on the floor earlier in the season.
There were rumors that Achiuwa and Lester would be sitting Thursday, but Penny dispelled those in the short term and said they will both be playing against Cincinnati.
NET: Mem-27 Cincinnati-66
Haslametrics: Mem-38 Cincinnati-51
KenPom: Mem-41, Cincinnati-45
Jarron Cumberland – The reigning AAC player of the year is boasting a top 150 assist rate this season. The volume shooter puts up over ten shots per game but only averages 39% from the field including 31% from three, where he leads the team in chucks at 4.8 per game.
Keith Williams – One of the many senior guards on Brannan’s roster, Williams is a good three point shooter on low attempts. He is averaging 12 points and 4 rebounds on 10.2 FGA.
Jaevin Cumberland – The cousin of Jarron, the transfer from Oakland is a solid three point shooter averages 10 points per game and provides firepower off the bench, shooting a shade under 40% from the field.
Trevon Scott – Memphis will need to get a body on Scott as he has 4 double-doubles on the season and is a beast on the boards. He leads the Bearcats with 9 rebounds per game.
Chris Vogt – The former Northern Kentucky player is a 7’1’’ center who has scored in double figures in 15 consecutive games. He is a highly efficient scorer who is top 10 in the NCAA in both EFG% and TS%. Vogt averages 13.5 points and 6.6 rebounds with 1.4 blocks.
- Top 40 defense according to KenPom, with adjusted defensive efficiency of 91.6.
- High rate of converting second chance points off offensive rebounds
- Experience – Cincinnati is one of the more experienced teams in Division 1, with over 2 years under their players’ belts, good enough for 53rd in the country.
- Turnovers – 21% turnover rate (269th)
- Three point shooting – 31.1% (259th)
Keys to the Game
Convert turnovers to fastbreak points – Facing another turnover-prone team can play to the advantage of Memphis and their helter skelter offensive game as long as they capitalize on the Cincinnati miscues.
Memphis protecting the rim – The Bearcats are in the middle of the AAC in close two’s percentage to their total points. Memphis is the best rim protecting team in the conference and only allows opponents to shoot 44.3% in that range. If Memphis can eliminate Chris Vogt’s efficient shots at the rim and force more outside shots, that will bode well for them.
More College Hoops Content
- Theater In College Hoops (Ep. 46)
- Backdoor Cut (Ep. 55) – MEMPHIS TIGERS fall to Georgia in grueling fashion
- Scouting Report: Anthony Edwards and Georgia at Memphis
- Theater In College Hoops (Ep. 45) – Big name injuries, PC is dead, OSU/Kentucky
Zak (@BarnBurnerBro) is a native Memphian who covers the Memphis Grizzlies, Tigers, and St. Louis Cardinals for The Barn. He spends his free time exploring breweries, restaurants, and leading the Ivan Rabb stan club.