The Cincinnati Bearcats are set to take on the Temple Owls for the second time this Sunday. The first matchup ended in a 58-61 comeback win for the Owls, aided by a poor shooting night from the Bearcats.
The Owls brought out the worst game from the field for the Bearcats all season. Their 29% from the floor is the lowest by far, with their second worst being 34%. Cincinnati also had their 5th worst game from behind the arc, making just seven threes on 33 attempts.
The Bearcats, however, are coming off one of their best shooting games of the season. It was the first time all season that Cincinnati shot nearly 50% from the field, shooting 55% against the Wichita State Shockers on Thursday night. Cincinnati also tallied 17 assists, which was the first time they had more than ten in a game in almost a month.
For Temple, they are coming off a shorthanded win against SMU. Three of Temple’s rotational players missed the matchup, but a big 27-point outburst off the bench from Temple Guard, Tai Strickland, propelled the Owls to a win.
Temple’s injuries have started to pile up. Guards Damian Dunn and Jeremiah Williams are both key parts of this Owls team. When Khalif Battle was down with a season-ending injury seven games in, Dunn and Williams knew they had to step into more significant roles.
However, they both missed the SMU game and are both questionable against Cincinnati. Temple’s guard depth can only take so many hits, and they’re starting to stand on their last leg.
This year, Temple has had some big games in conference play. They bounced back from two losses to beat SMU, beat Tulsa and UCF on the road, and stuck with nationally ranked Houston, losing to them by just five. Temple is not a team to be taken lightly, as shown by their 12-point comeback against the Bearcats back in January.
Something to watch for in this matchup on Cincinnati’s side is starting center, Abdul Ado. Ado missed Cincinnati’s matchup against Memphis on Tuesday but played against Wichita State on Thursday. After the team recorded zero blocks on Tuesday, Ado totaled four while also grabbing four rebounds. Ado is a big part of Cincinnati’s interior defense, so his availability will be crucial.
In the first matchup, Damian Dunn led the way with 18 points. Dunn, the leading scorer for the Owls, also hit the shot that gave Temple a lead they would never relinquish. However, Dunn is dealing with an ankle injury and missed Temple’s last game against SMU. There is a chance that he is again unavailable for this matchup.
Cincinnati will need to have back-to-back good shooting days to beat Temple. While Temple isn’t a top team in the AAC, they are capable of beating any team any night. If Cincinnati comes out again and shoots below 30% from the floor, Temple will likely be able to take advantage again. Temple only shot 33% in the first matchup, but they were able to outrebound the Bearcats and ride the momentum to a comeback win.
The Bearcats have five games left this season. Sitting at 17-9 with a 7-6 conference record, it seems that getting into the NCAA tournament will have to come from an AAC championship. However, if the Bearcats can win out the rest of these games, that gives them great momentum going to Texas.
The Bearcats and Owls will tip-off at 2 p.m. at Fifth Third Arena. You can also watch the game on ESPN2.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism