After an ugly loss against UCF on the road, the Cincinnati Bearcats shut down the Houston Cougars 67-45 in their final home game of the season, going undefeated at home 18-0, and riding a 26 game home winning streak. The coaches, alumni, and fans bid a farewell to the 3 outstanding seniors to Troy Caupain, Kevin Johnson and Zack Tobler. Today, the University of Cincinnati starts construction on renovating Fifth Third Arena which will premiere in the 2018-19 season. It was a bitter sweet moment for the fans, coaches and players since last night was the last time we will be in Fifth Third (Shoemaker).
Before I give my thoughts on the game, I have to reflect my time as a student and fan in Fifth Third Arena. I wasn’t able to witness the game last night in person because I had a friend from Florida in town and last night was the only chance I could see them. Waking up this morning I thought of all the great games I’ve witnessed and playing in the band at Fifth Third. I remember the Crosstown Shootout game against Xavier my freshman year, sold out UConn games and witnessing Sean Kilpatrick score his 2,000th point against arch rival Louisville in his senior year. A lot of great memories in that Arena. I will surely miss being there but this renovation means so much to the community. I’m sure that the games, crowd noise will be a lot better in the 2018-19 season.
Last night’s game was a perfect showing that the Bearcats could make a deep tournament run. The best part of the game was the first and last points scored by Zack Tobler. Tobler’s points were KEY for Cincinnati, just ask Mick Cronin. The best stat of the night was Houston was held to 45 points while they average 70 points a game. That is Cincinnati defense! Cronin was very vocal to his team to have a great defensive game. When the defense locks in, the offensive game will follow. Each member on this squad contributed. Caupain had 11 points and 5 assists, Clark had 14 points and 7 rebounds, and Jarron Cumberland came off the bench with 10 points. It was a great game from start to finish, but their season is not done yet when the Bearcats travel to Connecticut to take on the Huskies on their Senior Night.
The win solidified the Bearcats #2 seed in the AAC Tournament. This is a huge blessing because in the upper portion of the bracket, it’s most likely the #1 SMU will have to contend with UCF, UConn (if it all works out). The Bearcats will probably either play against Tulane, Tulsa or Temple (teams that we’ve already beat in the regular season. I’m hoping we will get a rematch with SMU. If we could win that game, I could potentially see the Bearcats being a #4 seed in the NCAA tournament. The problem I’m seeing with the Bearcats is that they suffacate with the games they have on the road. It’s like they get too worried or their mind plays tricks on them. They’re all good players, it’s just a matter for them to play together as a team is when they’re successful. This is Cronin’s best teams ever and I hope they can translate it on the court. The post-season games are about to start and I sure hope the Bearcats are ready for the challenge. It’s do or die now. Go Bearcats!