Gary Clark is a problem for other teams. Saturday night before a sellout crowd at 5/3rd Arena, he scored a team high 13 points (alongside Jacob Evans III) to lift the Bearcats to a 65-60 victory over the UConn Huskies. More than that, Clark made big plays during crucial sequences.
In the closing minutes against UConn, and following a made three by Kevin Johnson, Clark reached out and blocked a UConn shot to further catalyze the raucous crowd and his teammates. With the win, the Bearcats move to 10-5 in the AAC Conference, and 20-8 on the season.
Some NCAA tourney prognosticators labeled the game a “Double Bubble” matchup because both UC and UConn were(are) on the verge of not making the tournament. However, UC’s victory should be enough to propel them into the field, provided they: (1) don’t give up an easy game against ECU on Saturday, and (2) win against Houston or SMU. It’s difficult to predict what the powers will decide about UC’s tournament fate, but I cannot imagine the selection committee turning a blind eye to a 23-8 or 22-9 Bearcats.
A few things stood out about the Bearcats’ performance on Saturday. First, Gary Clark is a handful for opponents when he’s active and aggressive on the offensive end of the court. No matter what, he’s going to get plenty of rebounds every game. Clark gets out of bed and hauls in 8 rebounds. But when he looks to score, opposing teams better look out.
Second, Jacob Evans III is a real talent. The freshman might be the best NBA prospect on the team. He handles the ball nicely and can create his own shots, at will. And he knocks down threes with some regularity. Evans has a very high ceiling. Let’s hope he doesn’t regress in seasons to come.
Third, Troy Caupain continues to lead this team, game in and game out. Saturday he scored in double figures. Troy always seems to show up and compete. I hope the BearcatNation is grateful for his consistency this season.
As a completely biased observer, I’d have to say Saturday night was a good night to be a Bearcat. The crowd was rocking. The team is surging toward March. And the weather hinted at Spring. Go Bearcats!
By Brian Fox