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Cincinnati Finishes Non-Conference Play Strong Over Tennessee Tech

Coming into the season, the Cincinnati Bearcats were viewed as a fringe NCAA tournament team. With the big dogs of Memphis and Houston likely making the AAC a two-team race this year, the non-conference play of the Bearcats was crucial to possible postseason qualification. Plenty has changed in the college basketball landscape since then. Cincinnati basketball has taken care of their business however before the AAC season.

Although not without a few stumbles along the way, the Bearcats are in good shape heading into AAC play. Cincinnati destroyed then-No. 14 Illinois by 20 before losing a close game to then-No. 13 Arkansas by six. Cincinnati was tripped up by Monmouth before losing a brutal rivalry game at Xavier.

All in all, Cincinnati basketball is 10-3 and have to be feeling good about their chances at this point. The confidence will be much-needed for a brutal opening to AAC play at Houston next Tuesday.

Cincinnati Basketball Tops Tennessee Tech, 76-67

Crashing The Glass

One of the easiest ways to win a game at any level is to crash the boards. The offensive boards in particular are even more important. The Bearcats out-rebounded Tennessee Tech, 13 to five. In a game where one team is clearly better on paper, it is a backbreaker for their opponents when they give up second chances. That was the case in Cincinnati’s win on Tuesday. It was tough enough to stop Cincinnati consistently and is even harder when they put up 16 more shots as well.

Cincinnati has had trouble with consistency when it comes to shooting. In the AAC, that will likely be a death sentence every night of the year. The two times it won’t are when said teams either play great defense or do a good job rebounding. Cincinnati is going to play some good defensive teams and they will need to be able to score consistently to have staying power in the conference.

The best way for Cincinnati to stick around and pull off some potential upsets is to crash the offensive boards. If they can continue to do that, they may just make a serious run at the conference championship.

Mike Saunders Jr. cincinnati basketball college
Credit: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Poor Shooting from Deep

In the new era of basketball, three-point shooting is key. While there aren’t many consistent high-powered offenses in the AAC, virtually every team has the ability to heat up to lethal levels on any given night. The one exception, to this point, seems to be the Bearcats. Cincinnati has made just 85 of their 286 attempts from deep in 13 games this season. That is only good for 29.7% shooting.

Usually, poor shooting can be attributed to tough luck or just off nights. For Cincinnati, however, the issue seems to be systemic. Only two players who average over 10 minutes a game shoot 28% or better from three. Those two players are Mike Saunders Jr. and Jeremiah Davenport. However, while good, they have also struggled with consistency. If Cincinnati continues to shoot poorly from deep, they’ll need to lean heavily on Davenport and Saunders each game. From what we’ve seen so far, that won’t lead to any consistency once AAC play rolls around.

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