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Where did the defense go for No. 20 Memphis?

Cincinnati guard Sean Kilpatrick (23) drives past Memphis guard Geron Johnson (55) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn. Kilpatrick led Cincinnati with 18 points as Cincinnati won 69-53. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)


Entering Tuesday night’s date with No. 20 Memphis, offensively-challenged No. 15 Cincinnati had scored more than 80 points in a game just five times.

Their victims? Campbell, Kennesaw State, USC Upstate and Chicago State all lost to the Bearcats before Christmas. Temple, one of the bottom-feeders in the American, managed to score exactly 80 points back in January.

Memphis allowed the Bearcats to put up 97 points.


To be fair, Cincinnati probably would have scored closer to 88 or 90 points if Memphis didn’t continue to foul well into the second half, but that’s not really the point. Cincinnati is not a good offensive team. As a matter of fact, outside of Sean Kilpatrick -- who is having an all-american caliber season -- they are a bad offensive basketball team. And Memphis still found a way to lose 97-84 to them.

That’s a problem.

Part of the reason is that Mick Cronin has Memphis figured out. The Bearcats were able to get out and run on Memphis, whether it was off of turnover or a missed shot. But that wasn’t the only issue defensively, as Memphis also allowed the Bearcats to find endless driving lanes and put them on the line for 38 free throw attempts. Think about it like this: Cincinnati, who is not a good shooting team, shot 53.3% from the floor, got to the line 38 times, scored 1.37 PPP and committed just three turnovers.

That’s pretty close to perfect.

The good news?

Joe Jackson looks like he’s snapped out of his slump. He finished with 21 points and six assists, hitting his first three-pointer since February 12th. Entering the night, he was 3-for-14 in his last two games.

So maybe there’s a glimmer of a silver lining in an otherwise ugly night.