It all comes down to this. Well, technically not. But if the Bearcats want any chance at claiming an AAC regular season title, they better bring their A-game to Fifth Third Arena.
On Sunday, the Cougars are traveling to Cincinnati for a rematch of February’s conference showdown. This game is a little more watered down as the Bearcats were defeated by UCF on Thursday night, ending any chances for Cincinnati to be crowned outright champions and clinch the number one seed for the conference tournament. The Bearcats still have plenty to play for, including a win against a ranked team on their home court. Nothing feels better than that.
The Cougars are led Corey Davis Jr., Houston’s leading scorer (16.2 ppg.). Davis has filled the hole left by Rob Gray last year, but the Cougars are soaring under Kelvin Sampson. The transformation under Sampson has been incredible as Houston even hosted College Gameday last weekend. The Cougars are always a tough test, but the Bearcats aren’t going down without a fight.
Cincinnati will host Senior Day for two Bearcats, Cane Broome and Justin Jenifer. Both have had up and down paths under Mick Cronin, but each has made a difference, especially this year. Jenifer has been a surprise on the offensive end of the court as he’s averaging 8.4 ppg. and is shooting 44% from beyond the arc. Broome, however, has regressed, but still has been a needed presence off the bench and has drained some clutch shots (see you later, UCONN). While both players aren’t going to be getting their numbers retired anytime soon, their presence as leaders and work ethic has contributed mightily to this young Cincinnati team.
Cincinnati has one last chance to prove itself before making a run in March. Cincinnati sits steadily at a number seven seed for many March Madness projections, but if they want to move up, they’re going to need to prove themselves to the committee, something they haven’t done much of all season. Fifth Third should be rocking as this game has been completely sold out for weeks and fans are encouraged to wear red. The Bearcats are in for yet another dog fight, but Cincinnati should come out on top.