Mar 22, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Mick Cronin during the second half against the Creighton Bluejays during the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament at the Wells Fargo Center. Creighton defeated Cincinnati 67-63. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati 84, Bellarmine 72: Bearcats Tested Once Again In Exhibition Play

For the second straight exhibition game Cincinnati was tested on its home court against a strong opponent. In the first half Bellarmine did nothing but break UC’s full press and hit three’s. The Knights made 9 of 19 shots from beyond the arc en route to a 36-point first half performance. The Bearcats muddled their way through the first 20 minutes, unable to get much of anything going offensively. That changed, however, when Mick Cronin subbed out GeLawn Guyn and Troy Caupain at point guard for redshirt sophomore Jeremiah Davis III.

At that point Cincinnati finally started to put things together, closing the deficit and going up by one at halftime. I’ve always believed JDIII should have been the starting point guard since day one. What really hindered his chances was the season ending injury he sustained last year. Guyn got the nod because he was slightly more experienced by way of actually playing in 2012-13. But JDIII is a better offensive option at point guard than Guyn and hopefully we see him leading this offense going forward.

Another player who stood out today was the ultra-hyped freshman Jermaine Lawrence. Against Carleton in his first collegiate action, #11 struggled to stay out of foul trouble and only notched a handful of minutes on the court. Today Lawrence was much more impressive. He finished with nine points and put on a show of athleticism that helped him earn the accolades during the recruiting process. Hopefully as he begins to get his feet under him Lawrence will live up to the hype that everyone gave him before the season.

Overall this wasn’t a dominating performance from Cincinnati but that’s a good thing. After playing Carleton and Bellarmine, both strong programs in their own leagues, the Bearcats know that they have issues defending the three-ball and creating consistent offense. Those are two things UC probably wouldn’t know if they romped an extremely weak exhibition opponent. Now that Mick Cronin has a better understanding of his team’s strengths and weaknesses he can make the necessary steps to correct them, or at least conceal them. Cincinnati won ugly in both games but the knowledge UC’s coaches and players gained in these tough contests will pay dividends in the long run.

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