Cincinnati at TCU Preview

Cincinnati (16-10, 5-8) will begin a two game Texas stretch on Saturday afternoon at 3 pm when the Bearcats travel to Fort Worth for a return match up against TCU (18-8, 7-6).

Cincinnati won an overtime thriller, 81-77, in the first match up at Fifth Third Arena between the two teams on January 16th.

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

Day Day Thomas led the Bearcats with 21 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, followed by John Newman with 20 points.

For TCU, Trevian Tennyson led the Horned Frogs with 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the 3-point line. Containing him from beyond the arc will have to be a focus in the second meeting between these two. Tennyson has struggled recently, being held to seven or fewer points in three of the last four games. 

Key Stats and Notes:

- TCU is currently third in the league in offense and 27th nationally, averaging 81.5 points per game. The Horned Frogs lead the Big 12 and ranks 25th nationally in shortest offensive possession length at 15.8 seconds. Kenpom ranks TCU 25th in adjusted offense.

- TCU has shot the ball well all season. They currently rank third in the Big 12 and 26th nationally in field goal percentage at 48.1 percent. In Big 12 games only, TCU is first in scoring offense (77.2) and first in 3-point percentage (37.9).

- Defensively, TCU is an interesting team. Jamie Dixon's squad ranks third in the Big 12 and 18th nationally with 9.1 steals per game, third in the Big 12 and 27th nationally with 15.0 turnovers forced per game, and lead the nation with 19.3 fastbreak points. However, TCU is second to last in the league, giving up 71.3 points per game. TCU has forced 13 or more turnovers in all but five games this season. 

Keys to Victory

Defend the Three-point line

TCU finished 11-of-25 from the three point line in the first meeting with six different players connecting from beyond the arc. Trevian Tennyson leads the Big 12 in 3-point percentage at 43.4.and has made 2.7 threes in Big 12 games this season, which ranks second in the league.

Win the turnover battle

TCU is at their best when they are able to get out in transition and play at a fast pace. Cincinnati finished with 15 turnovers in the first game between these two but TCU was only able to convert those in to 12 points. On the other side, Cincinnati was able to force TCU in to 19 turnovers and convert those in to 19 points. 

Crash the boards

TCU is one of just three teams to out-rebound Cincinnati this season. Led by Ernest Udeh's 11 points, 9 rebounds, TCU out-rebounded Cincinnati 41-35 and scored 18 points off 18 offensive rebounds. TCU is third in the Big 12 with 12.6 offensive rebounds per game, and fifth in the Big 12 with a 5.6 rebounding margin. In the Oklahoma State loss, Cincinnati allowed offensive rebounds late in the game on consecutive possessions to turn a one point deficit in to six point deficit with 1:29 remaining in the game. 

Emmanuel Miller

UC did a good job limiting Emmanuel Miller in the first game between these two teams. Miller finished with 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting but had scored just 11 points prior to the overtime period. Miller leads the team and ranks tied for sixth in the Big 12 with 16.1 points per game, has scored in double figures in each of the last 14 games and reached 20 points seven times this season. Miller is also the team leader in rebounds with 5.9 per game, and.ranks third in the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 48.7.

Slowing him down will go a long way in Cincinnati leaving Fort Worth with a victory.

Attack the rim

UC outscored TCU 50-30 in points in the paint in the first meeting. Vik Lakhin scored 11 of those 50 and Cincinnati's guards did a good job of getting down hill and being aggressive going to the rim. While Lakhin has had his problems of late, Jamille Reynolds is shooting 54 percent from the field over his last six games and is now averaging 13.6 minutes per game.  It will be interesting to see the big man rotations on Saturday afternoon and how the different styles of play are utilized after Lakhin has not played in the previous two games.

With TCU big man Ernest Udeh being listed as day-to-day, the Bearcats will have to take advantage of a size advantage in the paint and attack the basket.

Final thoughts:

TCU comes in to Saturday's match up with an 11-2 home record. Coming off a bad home loss, 80-76, to a young Oklahoma State team, Wes Miller will have to find a way to get his team focused on putting together a complete 40 minutes. Even with the OSU loss, winning on the road at TCU would keep the Bearcats in the tournament conversations and solidly on the bubble. 

UC is currently 3-3 in Big 12 road games. Adding another Quad 1 win to their resume would be a great start to a Texas road trip that ends with Houston on Tuesday night. 

(Photo: Kareem Elgazzer / USA Today)

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