CINCINNATI — It seemed like a typical lazy, late Sunday afternoon on the banks of the mighty Ohio River but inside the majestic Fifth Third Arena, the crowd of 12,576, was loud and the basketball played by the No. 19 University of Cincinnati was inspiring.
After surviving the weak scoring punch from the University of South Florida, the Bearcats brushed away the Bulls 94-53, like swatting away a pesky fly, extended their home winning streak to 21 games and remained undefeated in the American Athletic Conference.
At the start of the game, the Bulls found themselves undermanned for the contest, as their leading scorer guard Geno Thorpe, could not play against the University of Cincinnati because of ankle injury he suffered at practice Friday.
University of Cincinnati basketball coach Mike Cronin said that he did not envy the task for the Bulls to come into the game without their leading scorer.
“Having to come out on the road without Thorpe was quite an impossible task,” Cronin said.
University of South Florida interim basketball coach Murray Bartow, said that he is not allowing excuses to define his team but he did feel that the Bulls’ offense did not have the same feeling out on the floor.
“I’m not an excuse guy, which I’ve said many times,” Bartow said. “But obviously the injury to Thorpe on Friday just totally put our team out of whack.”
Stepping out and placing the Bulls on his shoulders, freshman guard Michael Bibby knocked down four 3-pointers and finished the game with a career-high 17 points.
With 12:15, to go in the first half the Bulls actually had the scored tied at 12-12, then the Bearcats decided that they had seen enough of the Bulls went on a 14-0 run and basically sealed away the victory.
USF could not find any flow to the game after the Bearcats went on their run going four minutes without a basket but the season-high of 24 turnovers committed by the Bulls did not help their chances against the Bearcats.
“We got off to a great start which I was pleased but obviously 24 turnovers were way too many,” Bartow said. “They’re just a really good team. They’re probably one of the top 15 teams in college basketball.”
The University of Cincinnati scored 34 points off of the Bulls mistakes with the ball and finished the game shooting a respectable 48.5 percent from the floor which included 35.3 percent from beyond the arc.
Leading the way for the University of Cincinnati, freshman guard Jarron Cumberland, he did what he wanted to do against the pours Bulls’ defense by scoring 26 points.
“Coach is telling me to shoot the ball. Don’t hesitate!” Cumberland said about his performance against the Bulls. “I got the ball and it’s a 1-3-1 or 2-3 there’s set to be somebody to knock down the shot. I’m just building my confidence.”
The University of Cincinnati outrebounded the Bulls 40-36, Bearcats’ forward Gary Clark led his team with seven rebounds and the Bearcats bench scored 60 points for Cronin and his squad.
Cronin said that his team overcame the emotional victory Thursday night against arch- rival and cross-town rival Xavier University and played with a high degree of basketball intelligent against the Bulls.
“Playing smart is extremely, extremely underrated the things that fans didn’t see. If you ask me today what I was most happy about other than Justin Jenifer, it would be our defense on South Florida shooters,” Cronin said. “What happen the other night, XU Trevon Bluiett scoring 40 should never happen and today we did not let Troy Holston get going.”
Holston finished the game shooting 1-of-11, from the floor and walked off of the court with just three points and three turnovers.
USF finished the game shooting 33.3 percent from the field including making 46.2 percent of their three-point shots.
“I just want our fans to know these guys are working hard. Our practices have been great and unfortunately it didn’t show tonight,” Bartow said. “We can’t get too down. We can’t over-magnify it. We’ve just got to move onto the next game.”
The next game for the Bulls will be, Thursday night February 2 against the University of Memphis inside the coolest basketball venue on the sunset side of the state of Florida the Sun Dome beginning at 7 p.m.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.