Since the Xavier debacle, the Cincinnati Bearcats have played outstanding basketball. Perhaps it was just that kind of adversity this team needed to overcome in order to refocus and unite this team. Oddly enough, Cincinnati’s biggest weakness was their strength this afternoon. UC outrebounded Nebraska 40-31 and picked up several defensive rebounds to close out Cornhusker possessions. That was mighty impressive. The three-point defense was a concern today, though. Nebraska shot 45% from beyond the arc but just 36% from the field in general. That skew is very concerning but Cincinnati’s stellar interior play more than offset that deficiency.
Individually, we have to call out Justin Jackson who posted another double-double. The senior stayed out of foul trouble and ate up Nebraska’s post players down low. Additionally, Kevin Johnson was an impressive offensive option for Mick Cronin today. The freshman is usually good for 4-5 points per game but the 11 he put up in the first half pace all players. That performance was especially important to make up for Sean Kilpatrick’s inability to make anything from the field. Killa wound up with a team high 21 points but 17 of those came from the free throw line. Now, I do have to give him some praise. Kilpatrick quickly found his shot just wasn’t there today and changed his strategy to go hard in the lane to draw fouls. The veteran move worked and he was able to do damage with free throws.
Cincinnati now stands at 11-2. They closed out nonconference play today and will face the SMU Mustangs at Fifth Third Arena on New Year’s Day at 6 pm. The Bearcats are playing their best basketball of the season right now so it’s ideal that UC begins their AAC schedule on Wednesday.