Those darn Bearcats: Cincinnati ends SMU’s AAC title chances, 82-74


Steve Hamm/Special Contributor

SMU head coach Tim Jankovich makes a point as he directs his players during first half action against Tulsa. The two teams played their NCAA mens basketball game at SMU’s Moody Coliseum in Dallas on January 12, 2019. (Steve Hamm/ Special Contributor)

Here are a few takeaways from SMU’s 82-74 loss to Cincinnati on Friday in the second round of the American Athletic Conference tournament:
Another quick start

Not much defense to talk about in the first half…. or at all, really.

The Mustangs and Bearcats both shot over 50 percent before the break and traded the lead five times. Both teams also shot 50 percent exactly from the perimeter. Cincinnati took a greater number of shots, but SMU made up for that by keeping the Bearcats off the free-throw line, completely.

SMU led by 7 as the half began to wind down, but a late surge by Cincinnati and three-pointer made by AAC Player of the Year Jarron Cumberland on the Bearcats’ final possession gave Mick Cronin’s squad the advantage at the break. The shot took some air out of SMU’s balloon, but the Mustangs fought hard to give themselves a chance.

Jimmy Whitt is a bad, bad man

Not only did Cumberland carry Cincinnati’s offense by scoring 26 points, he also finished with a career-high 8assists.

On SMU’s end of the floor, Jimmy Whitt was very much the guy once again. Despite a heavily taped shoulder, Whitt contributed 24 points while shooting 12 of 19 from the field. His mid-range jumper was in peak form. In tandem with Jahmal McMurray (18 points), the duo combined for over 50 percent of SMU’s scoring on the night.

Those darn Bearcats

Cincinnati and SMU at the end, again? For two programs who have paced the American the past few seasons, it’s starting to become a trend. Or maybe a tradition.

The Mustangs have now played the Bearcats in their would-be final game of the season three of the past four years. SMU is 0-3 in those games.

In 2016, SMU lost on Cincinnati’s home floor 61-54 in its regular season finale. SMU fans might remember this as Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy’s final game. The Mustangs would not play in the postseason due to NCAA violations. Cincinnati has now eliminated SMU from the AAC Tournament back-to-back years.

The exception was 2017, when SMU won the conference championship before falling to USC in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The team the Mustangs defeated to win the AAC? Cincinnati.

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Source:: Daily times

      

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