Nevada Wolfpack find themselves going up against a Cincinnati Bearcat team with a defense that is as good as any. Add in that Jarron Cumberland can flat shoot the rock handling his business against Georgia State with a huge 27 points 9 of those coming from deep, and you have what some might think is a recipe for success for the 31-4 Bearcats. That is if Nevada didn’t have a lucky streak and a Stephens, Hall plus two Martins who can also shoot the fire. It’s time to find out if the O can roll, in this highly-anticipated meeting.
No surprise here, Nevada brings two Martins, Cooke, Stephens, and Caroline in their starting five while the Bearcats start Evans, Jenifer, Clark, Washington and madman scorer Cumberland. It is Washington for the Bearcats however who draws first blood. Jarron doesn’t wait long hitting the first three of the game and putting Cincinnati up 5-0, then again for three to go up 8-0. The defense of the Bearcats is spectacular as well, Washington slams one home bringing it to a 10-0 run and Nevada calls a MUCH-needed timeout. If something isn’t changed quick this could get out of hand for the Wolfpack. Cincinnati fans have traveled and are starting to get loud adding another factor for Nevada to overcome. Finally, Caleb Martin hits for two and gets the Wolfpack on the board, he then commits a foul and gives Cumberland the chance for two. Cody Martin follows suit and scores getting Nevada up to four but losing 12-4 with sixteen to play. Jacob Evans III drove hard and scored easily twice in a row for the Bearcats stretching the lead out by 12. After Kyle Washington slams down a grown man sized dunk. It’s obvious to everyone the Bearcats aren’t JUST a defensive team they are a defensive team with a great Offense. The O may roll but right now it’s not Nevada’s that’s rolling. Kendall Stephens finally showed up and knocks down a 15-footer to get Nevada to six. The Wolfpack is having to fight for every point and every inch with this swarming Bearcat defense, after almost losing the ball Nevada finds an open Hall to get them to eight with just under thirteen to play.
Cincinnati is rolling and there isn’t much the Pack can do to stop it, the Bearcat offense is fine-tuned and so is their defense. Caroline tries to stop the bleeding with an inside two but as quickly as those hit the scoreboard Jarron Cumberland races the floor and drops a three in to bring us to 27-12 with eleven to play in the first.
While only down thirteen with less than ten to play, it feels like the Wolfpack is down by far more. It is everything they can do to stay that close at this time. Cody Martin has been a bright spot for Nevada, even dribbling down to the post and scoring for the Wolfpack. Kendall Stephens hit a three with six to play in the first bringing Nevada within striking distance. Cody Martin added to the total and now the Wolfpack fans have come alive. Cincinnati is sitting at 33 and Nevada rallying with 26, five to play. The Bearcats have gone cold, they are still getting to the interior and even getting clear shots from beyond the arch but the shots are not falling like in the first fifteen. Under five to play and Jacob Evans III drove it right down the pipe for the score and the foul, after hitting the extra point the Bearcats are back out to a ten-point lead. Kendall Stephens knocks a pass out of bounds and we go to the half with Cincinnati leading by twelve and a head full of steam. I watched the Wolfpack go out during the half last game against Texas and come back in the second a whole new team. I wonder if Coach Musselman has another great speech or strategy to motivate his Wolfpack offense. They will need all they can get seeing as Cody Martin leads the team in scoring with only 12, while the Bearcats have three players with more points than the entire Wolfpack team.
Justin Jenifer comes out and busts the first three, not to be out done fellow teammate Gary Clark hits one also to put the Bearcats up 51-35 to start the second half. Cody Martin was called for a technical and I am not sure why, the whole arena seemed confused as the ladies who slept with Harvey Weinstein and still didn’t get movie parts. This has definitely been the year of the upset and dethroning of some blue blood organizations, this doesn’t seem to be one of those games as the number two seed holds a strong 15-point lead with fourteen to go in the game. Kyle Washington hits a big inside hook and now its 58-41 Bearcats. Another Technical foul was called on Nevada, this time their coach Mick Cronin got in the action. Still not sure as why he received the T, maybe it’s because with a name like Mick you are supposed to wear green everyday not just yesterday. Jarron Cumberland adds to the Bearcat lead with a tear drop floater. Cincinnati sits comfortably in the lead with twelve to go at 61-42.
Kendall Stephens sank a three at the ten-minute mark to get the Wolfpack up to forty-eight. Followed by Caleb Martin and another by Stephens and we sit now at 65-53 Bearcats. The Wolfpack is not going away, their offense is starting to rally and just in time with under ten to play. Cody Martin drove the lane, hit and was fouled. Cody hit the extra point and it may have been the spark to start the fire. Wolfpack down nine when Cody “I have ice in my veins” Martin hit a three to bring the pack closer than they have been all game. Josh Hall followed suit and now the Wolfpack is back within six with six to play. Kyle Washington hit a big two to stop Nevada rally, the weird guy with the Afro sitting next to me said his imaginary friend Thompson is really enjoying the circus.
Under five to play and the Wolfpack down six, when Cincinnati comes up with a big block and stop at the rim. A huge blow came to the Bearcats as Jarron Cumberland fouled out at four minutes and the Wolfpack only down six. Cody Martin hits a huge floating double to bring it to 67-71 Bearcats, however the energy has changed and Nevada has the juice. Down to the two-minute mark and the Bearcats only holding a three-point lead. Nevada starts the press, as the Bearcats bring it down. After a bad shot the Wolfpack has the ball with a minute and down three. Caleb Martin drains a three and ties the game! Only forty seconds on the game clock tie game, and Cincinnati has the ball. Another shot won’t fall for the Bearcats and now with nine seconds Josh Hall and the Wolfpack take the lead for the first time of the whole game. Cincinnati ball and after a fumble, we have yet ANOTHER UPSET! Cincinnati played a hell of a game but luck and hard work paid off for the Nevada Wolfpack yet again! I am telling everyone, whatever Coach Eric Musselman says to his team during the half needs to be bottled and given to people on their death bed.
HMG Guest Writer: Stephen Eugene