Cincinnati 62 Memphis 60
Just back from the Forum--here are my quick thoughts on the game (a game that had far more similarities to last Saturday's game against Louisville than most Tiger fans wanted to see):
As the title indicates, at least the Tigers gave maximum effort in this game. Unfortunately, the effort was very reminiscent of last Saturday's game against Louisville--effort without execution will not get it done against good teams, and Cincinnati is a good team.
Also like last Saturday, Rodney Carney faded away when the spotlight was brightest. Rodney's a special athlete, but this is becoming a trend--Rodney has to give this team more and do it more consistently. At least he'll be back next year, for certain.
Darius Washington has been showing signs over the last few games that he's hitting the freshman wall. His decision-making has been poorer, and his play has suffered--however, as he showed late in this game, he's still capable of very special things; that late 3 to tie the game at 60 was way beyond the arc, and it was clutch. He's got a long way to go, and he's hobbled with injuries, but the growth he's shown this year bodes well for the Tigers in the next year or two.
If Cincinnati could have just shot the ball, they would have won this one comfortably. They shot 33% from the field and just barely over 50% from the line. Memphis' defense was a big part of the poor FG shooting--the Tigers can defend as well as anyone in the conference. The Bearcats missed some easy ones, though.
Speaking of missing easy baskets, the Tiger missed several bunnies. In addition, the Tigers were scoreless in the first 9:00 of the 2nd half. Couple that with the 14:00 scoreless run against Louisville and it's clear that the halfcourt offense is nothing short of a disaster. The halfcourt game just hasn't developed this year--way too much reliance on Washington (a tiring freshman that isn't the best decisionmaker) and Carney (an inconsistent shooter and a reluctant leader).
Oh yeah, the worst part? Rebounding. I can tell you from having been there many times this season that the Tigers do, in fact, practice rebounding. But you wouldn't know it, would you? Embarrassing effort as they got bullied by Cincinnati all night long. I know Cincy's a big team, and I know they're tough, but you've got to man up at some point and work harder than your opponent. The Tigers never did.
Well, it's on to the Conference USA tourney on Wednesday--they've got to win 4 games in 4 days. Best of luck.