Defend. Rebound. Win. Those are the word of do-everything coach Larry Davis, which led to a season high 84 points. UC won the turnover battle 13-8, the steal battle 7-1, and outrebounded the Owls 36-22. As discussed, in the postgame press conference by Kevin Johnson, if the Cats play defense, the offense simply flows better. And boy was #25 right.
Fifth Third Arena was electric tonight. A season high crowd of 12,071 showed up, and forced Temple out of the building in the second half. UC led 29-28 at the half. Coach Davis discussed defensive adjustments at halftime. However, the offense then came out of nowhere and took over causing a lead by as much as 35 for UC in the second half.
The Cats made their first 11 buckets of the second half! UC shot the ball 76.9% in the second half, including 7-10 from 3. This more than doubled their first half at 32.1%. UC scored 55 points in one half! That’s more than they scored in the whole game against Saint Francis, Eastern Illinois, Ole Miss, VCU, and Memphis this year. For the game, UC shot 53.7% and made 17-22 free throws. The Cats also racked up a decided paint advantage, 34-18.
Four UC players scored double figures, including senior Jermain Sanders, who stepped up in a starting role tonight going 7-9 for 16 points and adding key defense that won’t show up on any stat sheet. Kevin Johnson is continuing to grow. Tonight he went 4-5 from 3 and had 14 points. Octavius Ellis added 13 and Gary Clark another 11. Clark added 8 boards, and Troy Caupain found a groove with 7 assists.
Defensively, the Bearcats forced 13 turnovers. They held the Owls to 29% shooting in the second half, and 36.5% for the game.
Next up – an easy W against Houston at home Wednesday night at 7 pm ET on ESPNews. No disrespect to the Cougars, but they are simply not good. Houston is 7-10 on the season and 0-6 in the American. We will not waste your time with any analysis previewing this game. Suffice it to say we hope there’s a lot of dunks and fun at Fifth Third Arena while the Cats coast to another “W.”
Story by Andy Smith
Photos by Rhett Lemmel and Andy Smith
Check out our photo gallery from last night: