Richmond needs tough defense vs. No. 12 Cincinnati

Cincinnati's Mick Cronin might be having some second thoughts.

After winning their first three games by an average score of 102-61, the No. 12 Bearcats left the cold of southern Ohio for the blue water, sunny skies and sandy beaches of the Cayman Islands for a matchup with Buffalo in the first round of the Cayman Islands Classic on Monday.

"It's time to get some resistance," Cronin told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "We need to start to play some teams that can beat us if we don't play well."

The Bulls, picked to win the Mid-American Conference East Division, gave the Bearcats all they could handle. Buffalo rallied from a double-digit deficit before losing 73-67 Monday night.

That sets up a second-round game for Cincinnati against Richmond on Tuesday night at John Gray Gymnasium in George Town on Grand Cayman. The Spiders defeated UAB 63-50 in an earlier first-round game.

Richmond (1-2) lost its first two games -- both at home -- before redshirt freshman Grant Golden scored 26 points, hauled down seven rebounds and blocked three shots to lead the Spiders into the second round of the tournament.

"We talked about how we didn't get off to the start we wanted (to the season), so coming down to the Cayman Islands was sort of like a fresh start for us," Golden told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "So I think we really bought into that idea and came out with a lot of energy."

The energy helped the Spiders shut down UAB's offense, which was averaging 88.7 points per game in the Rams' first three games.

Richmond coach Chris Mooney's squad will have to have some of that same defensive intensity when the Spiders and Bearcats collide Tuesday.

"I think there was a grit that we played with and a bit of a, maybe a refocus," Mooney said. "I just think it's fairly common to think you're going to do well and think things will be easier than they are. I think the two games at home really stunned us. We had some time, we were able to really talk to our guys and practice hard and get ourselves prepared."

Cincinnati entered the tournament with an offense ranked in the Top 10 nationally. Jarron Cumberland leads the offense at 16.3 points per game, while five other Bearcats average in double figures.

Cincinnati is taking its trip to paradise seriously -- very workmanlike.

"We're here on a mission," UC senior forward Kyle Washington said before scoring 14 points in the win over Buffalo. "I wish I was going down to the Cayman Islands for a regular vacation, but we're here to get some hardware."

"This is my first time across the water," Bearcats guard Justin Jenifer said. "It's exciting. I'm ready to have fun a little bit, but it's always business first."

Gary Clark certainly took care of business as he led the Bearcats with 24 points and 14 rebounds in Cincinnati's first-round victory. Cumberland added 14 points, but he turned the ball over seven times.

Buffalo jumped out early as the Bearcats struggled until Nysier Brooks gave Cincinnati a 13-12 lead with a pair of free throws. The Bearcats pushed the lead to 13 at the half and maintained a double-digit advantage for most of the first 12 minutes of the second half.

The Bulls began their rally, and C.J. Massinburg's layup cut the Buffalo deficit to five points with six minutes left.

A 3-pointer by Massinburg with under a minute left narrowed the margin to four, but the Bearcats hung on.

Copyright 2017 by STATS. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS is strictly prohibited.

Our Latest Stories