After escaping Temple with a W thanks to a Jacob Evans clutch jumper, UC did not disappoint Sunday evening. Since the inception of the AAC back in 2012, SMU has always presented a challenge for Mick Cronin’s Bearcats. Led by Tim Jankovich, the Mustangs play sound, fundamental basketball. They know when to pass and shoot. And they do not turn the ball over.
UC obliterated that plan and made it look easy in the process. Forcing 18 turnovers and holding SMU to just 37.5% from the field, the Bearcats coasted to an easy victory. Gary Clark during the postgame press conference talked about how the Bearcat players focused on guarding only the player they are responsible for defending. UC did not fall for the easy kick-out three on this night.
Gary Clark became a problem in the second half, transitioning into his aggressive role. Clark and Evans both finished with 18 points. Cane Broom played just 12 minutes, but his ankle seemed to hold up just fine.
The Cats attempted more free throws than three pointers, and again came out with a W. Jarron Cumberland forced 11 deflections, and Coach Cronin discussed how Jarron is learning to play harder. For the game, UC caused 40 deflections.
UC is now 14-2 and tied with Wichita State atop of the AAC. Where will they move in the rankings this week? After losing to Norwood, they have not received any love despite winning, and winning convincingly. They should at least be top-15, but we shall see what the “experts” have to say.
PS – the nation’s longest home court winning streak in now extended to 35. After all, the Bearcats are playing on their actual floor transported from Fifth Third Arena and hauled into BB&T so the streak technically continues, right?
Next up – an easy one at USF (7-10) on Saturday at 7 p.
By Andy Smith