Justin Cashman | Staff Reporter
The Cincinnati Bearcats men’s basketball team prevailed 82-74 against a much-improved South Florida Bulls team Tuesday night, a game that turned out to be a dogfight until the final whistle.
The Bearcats defense, led by junior guard Jarron Cumberland with four steals, were able to force a whopping 21 turnovers against the Bulls, 15 of them coming in the first half alone.
Not only did Cumberland lead the team in steals, he also dropped a career high 34 points on 9-20 shooting from the field, as well as 14-16 from the free-throw line.
Cumberland is the first player to record 30 points in a game since Troy Caupain Jr. on March 11, 2016 against UConn.
Not only did Cumberland set a career high in points, he became the 53rd player in program history to record 1,000 career points on a gorgeous four-point play early in the first half.
The Bearcats were able to put pressure on South Florida anytime they drove down the lane with sophomore forward/center Eliel Nsoseme racking up four blocks, part of a collective nine team blocks making it nearly impossible for the Bulls to score down low.
Cincinnati also managed to steal the ball 12 times, with the other nine Bulls turnovers coming from crucial missed/dropped passes and two charging fouls.
While the Bulls turned the ball over heavily throughout the first half, they out-rebounded Cincinnati 19-9 keeping them barely alive at halftime down 43-31.
The rebounding gap would be closed by the final buzzer as Cincinnati finished with 23 rebounds to USF’s 27.
“It’s been a history for us to be able to defend and not get the rebound,” stated Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin, who was ejected for the first time in his career early in the second half.
Cronin later told media members he was ejected for saying “What?” to the ref, as well as throwing his hands up in the direction of the official.
Associate Head Coach Darren Savino, who has been with the Bearcats since prior to the 2010-2011 season, would take over for Cronin following his ejection.
The Bulls managed to keep the second half tight, rallying behind redshirt-junior guard Laquincy Rideau, who finished with 26 points, shooting 9-17 from the field.
He would also go 6-6 from the free throw line, with the team going a collective 22-26 from the charity stripe.
That comes after a terrible free throw performance in their overtime loss against Temple, going a horrific 10-25.
Luckily for the Bearcats, free throw shooting was a plus for them as well in this matchup as they shot a terrific 29-32.
Free throws haven’t been a positive for them throughout this season as they were against USF.
Prior to this game they shot a mere 70% on the season, which is 160th in the NCAA.
In the end, the Bearcats ability to draw fouls as well as South Florida’s inability to hit shots in the clutch put Cincinnati in the driver’s seat to give the Bulls their second straight loss.
This win puts Cincinnati at 15-3 on the season, including 4-1 in AAC play.
The Bearcats will have four days until they play next at Wichita State on Saturday. at 2 P.M..
Wichita State snapped a four-game losing streak at home against UCF Wednesday night, to put the Bearcats in a tie for first place with Houston and Temple.