The No. 21 Cincinnati Bearcats (16-4, 4-3 Big East) started off the season 12-0 but are 4-4 since, with three of those losses in conference play and the other to New Mexico. They lost to New Mexico and St. John’s by one point, Syracuse by two and Notre Dame by six.
The Bearcats need to shore up some of their weaknesses to win the type of close games they have been losing, beginning with shooting the ball better.
The team puts up a lot of shots, but they need to do a better job at making them.
Cincinnati is ranked 204th in field-goal percentage (42.5 percent) and 158th in three-point field-goal percentage (34 percent) in Division I basketball this season, while also ranking 25th in field-goal attempts and 31st in three-point field goals attempted (21.75 per game).
The Bearcats are shooting worse in conference play. Their field-goal percentage and three-point field-goal percentage have both gone down during conference play. Cincinnati is ranked 14th out of 15 teams in field-goal percentage (39.7 percent) and eighth in three-point field-goal percentage (31.4 percent) through seven games. They also lead in three-point field goals attempted (22.3 per game).
The team shot 20.7 percent (6-of-29) and went nearly 10 minutes without scoring a basket in the first half of their most recent game against No. 3 Syracuse. Unable to effectively penetrate Syracuse’s 2-3 zone defense, the Bearcats didn’t score a two-point field goal until there was 2:04 left in the half.
They had 18 points at halftime.
The Bearcats also need to shoot better from the free-throw line. Cincinnati is ranked 294th in Division I and 14th out of 15 Big East teams in free-throw percentage, shooting 64.4 percent this season.
Beyond shooting, Cincinnati needs to start getting more assists. They are ranked 125th in assists per game with a 13.7 average.
If the Bearcats can address these weaknesses, they can win more games and position themselves well for the Big East and NCAA tournaments in March.