The No. 21 Cincinnati Bearcats entered the RAC on Saturday night after losing their last 3 home games. Playing the 11-3 Scarlet Knights in their hostile arena is normally not a great place to end a losing streak, but the Bearcats pulled out a 68-58 win to go 2-2 in the Big East.
The first half was a defensive struggle that Cincinnati won easily. Cincinnati took a 27-15 lead at half as Rutgers only shot 4-19 from the field.
The Bearcats pulled away in the first half doing things they haven’t done much of the past few weeks. Forcing turnovers, ball security, and offensive rebounding were the three huge reasons for the Bearcats success last season, and they all reappeared tonight vs. Rutgers. At half Cincinnati had 0 turnovers to Rutgers 5 and 6 offensive rebounds to Rutgers 1.
Teams that don’t shoot that well really need to create as many possessions as possible to make up for that, and the Bearcats did that in the first half. Cincinnati shot 29% in the first half, but still had a 12 point lead because they took 31 shots to Rutgers’ 19.
Austin Johnson and Wally Judge led Rutgers with 4 points apiece, and Judge was the only member of the starting five with a field goal in the first half. The other 4 starters were 0-10.
The second half sped up at times, but was very much a relief to Bearcats’ fans because the lead never got lower than 9 points.
Rutgers was unable to cut the deficit because of Cincinnati’s free throw shooting, timely shooting, and offensive rebounding.
Cincinnati turned it over 7 times in the second half, but they absolutely crushed Rutgers on the boards in the second half with 9 more offensive rebounds. Titus Rubles ended the game with 11 rebounds, while Parker had 9 and Jackson had 8. Those three players had 11 of the 15 offensive rebounds.
The last five or so minutes Mike Rice elected to foul the Bearcats down the stretch. Cincinnati responded shooting 23-32 from the line with an impressive 9-10 line from Cashmere Wright to total 23 points for him. JaQuon Parker had 11 and Sean Kilpatrick added 10.
Myles Mack was the only Rutgers player in double figures as he hit a few late 3’s to get his total to 15. Cincinnati held star point guard Eli Carter (17ppg) to 1-11 from the field.
Cincinnati now looks to start a winning streak as they head to DePaul for an 8:30pm game on Tuesday the 15th.