The Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Texas Longhorns By The Numbers


Friday around lunchtime the Cincinnati Bearcats will take on the Texas Longhorns in their second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance under Mick Cronin. The UC head coach has done a whale of a job bringing the Bearcats back to respectability and the next step is building wins in the Big Dance. But it won’t be easy. The Longhorns have a storied basketball tradition that is only 1-upped by their immense football tradition. As such, Texas fans have high demands for champions and head coach Rick Barnes has answered the call. In fourteen seasons with the Longhorns, he has compiled a 71% winning percentage in the Big-12 including 20+ win seasons in all but one and three conference championships. Texas has been to the Big Dance every year under Barnes making it to 5 Sweet Sixteens, 3 Elite Eights, and 1 Final Four.

So as you can tell, the Longhorns have some experience in the NCAA Tournament. But that historical success is overshadowed by the amount of inexperience on this year’s team. Over half of Texas’ roster (6/11) are made up of freshmen. These new faces have played 60% of Texas’ minutes this year and account for nearly 57% of the team’s scoring. By comparison, Cincinnati’s roster of 14 is composed of 6 freshman who only account for 13% of the team’s points. This year at Texas, Barnes has clearly leaned on his youngsters to produce early. While talented they have experienced their share of growing pains adjusting to big time college basketball. This partially explains the 9 – 9 Big-12 record good for 6th in the conference this season.

Key Numbers

There are a couple statistics that will be key determinants in this game. The first is Texas’ rebounding which is middle-of-the-pack in the Big-12 but is bound to get much worse with senior Alexis Wangmene out with a wrist injury. This is especially so with how well UC defends the class despite running, for the most part, a 4-guard lineup. By the numbers the Bearcats will have an edge on the offensive boards as they pick up 13.5 per game (4th in the Big East, 30th nationally) while their counterparts only pick up 22.9 defensive rebounds per game which is 2nd-to-last in the Big-12 and 207th in the country. Overall Cincinnati and Texas are dead even on the boards (36.2 per game) but it’s that offensive/defensive discrepancy that is important.

The second key figure is the Longhorn’s assist-to-turnover ratio (0.98 per game). Any A/T less than 1 is not very good and Texas’ 0.98 is 7th in the conference and 149th in the country. Considering Cincinnati is one of the best teams in the Big East at not only stealing the ball (6th) and forcing turnovers in general (6th), UT will have to keep extra care of the ball in this game as Mick Cronin will surely be implementing the press and double-teams early to keep the Longhorn players out of rhythm.

Finally, the numbers on the perimeter are important for the simple fact that one of the teams (UC) just looooves to shoot the three-ball. The Bearcats not only shoot the most threes in the Big East (709 total) but also make the most (253 total). Cincinnati can get a bit three-happy at times even if they aren’t dropping which is why they have slipped to 5th in the conference in 3-pt field goal percentage (34.3%). But they could get quite a few open looks from the Longhorns who don’t seem to defend the perimeter well at all. They allow opponents to shoot over 35% from beyond the arc which is 219th nationally. Unless Rick Barnes makes huge adjustments to his defense this week, I don’t think it will be a problem getting those open looks on Friday. The big question will be if the Bearcats can actually nail them.

Players to Watch

– J’Covan Brown (#14): I have a feeling I’m going to absolutely hate this kid at the end of this game. Brown is just a scoring machine at 20.1 points per game which is best in the Big-12 and 16th nationally. He has had games where he just goes bat-shit crazy: 34 pts against Missouri, 32 pts against Baylor, 33 pts against Kansas. Those aren’t run-of-the-mill programs either as those teams finished 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in their conference. He has clearly thrived in big games. Brown’s one flaw might be his ugly 1.4 assist-to-turnover ratio. Cincinnati (particularly Cashmere Wright) is really good at creating turnovers and turning them into points. If there’s one player the Bearcats must double-team it’s Brown to cause him to make mistakes with the ball. But in one-on-one situations it may be up to Cash or this next guy to try and contain him.

– Jaquon Parker: The Cincinnati guard is the best rebounder at his position on the team. In fact, he’s the Bearcats’ second-leading rebounder just behind Yancy Gates. Parker is the reason UC is able to perform so well on the boards despite running a small, 4-guard line-up. In the past few games, #44 has also molded himself into one of the most valuable players on the team (if not THE most valuable). It’s no secret that Cincinnati needs Parker to run the 4-guard offense effectively but his abilities to drive the lane, collect those boards, hit mid-range jumpers with success, and play great defense has made him even more important to the Bearcats. UC will need a solid performance out of him against the Longhorns.

– Clint Chapman (#53) vs. Yancy Gates: Without fellow senior Alexis Wangmene, the Longhorns will rely on Chapman to contain Yancy Gates in the paint. He is 6’10” 245 lbs and size-wise matches up well with the 6’9″ 260ish lbs Gates. But Chapman isn’t the dominating presence inside like his counterpart and if Gates establishes himself early it could be a short day for the Longhorn power forward. Likewise if Chapman starts to get into foul trouble, Barnes will have to turn to freshmen to guard the UC big man and that’s when Gates could really take over.

Final Thoughts and Prediction

The Bearcats have the veterans and size to control this game. But Cincinnati sometimes relies too much on the three-ball to win games and if shooters like Kilpatrick, Dixon, or Cash go cold from beyond the arc, UC will be in trouble. That could be compounded if J’Covan Brown decides to be unbelievable on Friday and drops 30 or 40 on the ‘Cats. Overall I think this game is won or lost on the glass and from three point land. If Texas plays good perimeter defense, goes even with the Bearcats from a rebounding standpoint, and Brown makes plays, the Longhorns win. If however Cincinnati owns the boards and creates turnovers to get extra possessions while being somewhat warm from beyond the arc, the Bearcats win. This will be a close game but I think the needle points in the direction of UC on Friday who squeak by with a 4-point victory:

Cincinnati: 73

Texas: 69