The Cincinnati Bearcats will try to get back on track when they travel to Moody Coliseum in Dallas, Texas for an American Athletic Conference showdown against the SMU Mustangs.
SMU has won two of its first three AAC contests but will be looking to rebound from its first loss of the season. The Mustangs have overcome a battle with COVID-19 to enter with a 6-1 overall record through their first seven games and will be up against a Bearcats’ squad searching for its first conference victory of the year. Cincinnati has won just two of its first eight games and it has dropped all three of its AAC contests during its current five-game losing streak.
Can the Bearcats defy the odds and pull off the upset on the road against SMU on Thursday night?
Bearcats can’t stop slide, drop fifth straight game
Cincinnati was unable to stop its current slide on Saturday, coming up short in a 70-66 loss at home versus Tulsa. The Bearcats battled back from an early 12-point deficit but never led on the night. Keith Williams scored a team-high 18 points while Jeremiah Davenport added 16 points for Cincinnati, which dropped its fifth straight game.
John Brannen’s second season at Cincinnati is off to a tough 2-6 start and the Bearcats come into Thursday’s matchup ranked No. 82 in the latest KenPom rankings. While Cincinnati sits at just 2-6, it has not dropped a game against a team ranked outside of the top-100 yet this season. The Bearcats have scored 105.2 points per 100 possessions for the season (100th in the NCAA) but rank outside the top-200 in several major statistical categories. Cincinnati has turned the ball over 21.1 percent of the time (243rd in the NCAA) while shooting a pedestrian 26.0 percent from 3-point range (324th in the NCAA) through its first eight games.
On defense, Cincinnati has given up 95.5 points per 100 possessions for the season (63rd in the NCAA) but that number has sky-rocketed to 107.0 points per 100 possessions versus AAC opponents (10th in the AAC).
Mustangs hoping to avenge first loss of the season
SMU snapped its season-long six-game winning streak over the weekend with a 74-60 loss at home against Houston. Junior guard Kendric Davis finished with 23 points, eight rebounds, and four assists on the night
Tim Jankovich has guided the Mustangs to a 6-1 start and they enter Thursday’s matchup ranked No. 51 in the latest KenPom rankings. SMU has scored 110.4 points per 100 possessions for the season (38th in the NCAA) while giving up 95.4 points per 100 possessions on the defensive end of the floor (61st in the NCAA). The Mustangs rank first in the AAC with an effective field goal percentage of 52.3 percent and they sport the second-best turnover rate in the conference (17.0 percent) as well. However, poor free-throw shooting and a lack of offensive rebounds (8th in the AAC) have held them back from being an elite offensive team. SMU has shot just 54.5 percent from the charity stripe during AAC play (11th in the NCAA), which is a far cry from their season-long mark of 73.2 percent (91st in the NCAA).
While the Mustangs have been able to sustain their scoring efficiency during league play, they’ve struggled on the defensive end, giving up 97.0 points per 100 possessions through their first three AAC contests (7th in the AAC). SMU has held AAC teams to just 40.3 percent shooting from 2-point range (2nd in the AAC) but offensive rebounds and 3-point shooting have hurt the Mustangs’ defense. Through three conference games, opponents have shot 32.8 percent from deep (8th in the AAC) while sporting an offensive rebounding rate of 34.1 percent (9th in the AAC) against the Mustangs’ defense.