cincinnati connecticut

No. 11 Cincinnati’s loss to UConn shows it needs more offensive variety

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The No. 11 Cincinnati Bearcats are one of the toughest teams in the country. Nobody will dispute that Mick Cronin’s team can rebound and defend with the best of them. But does Cincinnati have enough scoring and variety on offense to be a major factor in March?

After Saturday’s 51-45 road loss to UConn, Cincinnati should be a bit concerned.

The Bearcats should be pleased that they were able to hang with UConn despite a poor offensive showing, but history has shown this season that when Cincinnati struggles to score, they usually struggle to win.

That isn’t earth-shattering analysis by any means, but to illustrate my point, Cincinnati is 22-0 when they score 60 or more points and just 2-5 when they don’t.

And when you only have two players that average double-figures in points, like Cincinnati does, 60 points isn’t as easy as it looks.

While Sean Kilpatrick is enjoying a tremendous season — and averages 20 points a game — when teams are able to slow him down like Connecticut did, it gives Cincinnati’s offense major issues.

The Huskies usually denied Kilpatrick the ball on the perimeter, and to avoid getting beat on backdoor cuts, a UConn interior defender would usually sag and help to make sure Kilpatrick didn’t get any easy buckets. Kilpatrick got a few — all good scorers do — but UConn’s defense showed that Cincinnati needs more offensive variety to be a serious threat.

UConn dared Cincinnati’s other players to beat them and they couldn’t. While Kilpatrick struggled to a 4-for-16 day from the field, his teammates weren’t much better. The Bearcats shot 27 percent from the field on 13-for-48 shooting from the field and had four points the first 12 minutes of the second half.

Cincinnati is filled with gritty and tough role guys that do their job, rebound and defend but can they get someone besides Sean Kilpatrick to step up and score if their senior star is struggling? Cincinnati can stay in most games because of its defense, but if a team gets hot against the Bearcats and gets a double-digit lead, Cincinnati could be in trouble.

#CBTtop100: Counting down the Top 100 Players in college basketball

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We’ll be counting down the top 100 players in college basketball all week long. Be sure to check back here throughout the week as the countdown continues over @CBTonNBC.

Jalen Coleman-Lands cleared to practice

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Jarrod Uthoff #20 of the Iowa Hawkeyes defends against Jalen Coleman-Lands #5 of the Illinois Fighting Illini in the second round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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When Illinois takes on Southeast Missouri State in the opener of the 2016-17 season, the Fighting Illini should have it’s starting backcourt out on the floor.

According to Jon Rothstein, Jalen Coleman-Lands has been cleared for all basketball activities. The sophomore two-guard has been recovering from a broken bone in his right hand.

The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.

Coleman-Lands will team up with Tracy Abrams, a point guard who was granted a sixth year of eligibility after missing the past two seasons due to injuries.

This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.

The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.

NBC Sports projected Illinois to finish eighth in the Big Ten this season.

Curtis Jones jumps over Tom Crean

Tom Crean
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Indiana held its annual Hoosier Hysteria on Saturday night.

One of the highlights from the team’s dunk contest was when freshman guard Curtis Jones jumped over Indiana head coach Tom Crean.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a newcomer us his coach as a dunk contest prop. Last week, Rawle Alkins cleared Arizona head coach Sean Miller en route to a reverse jam.

Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.

WATCH: Edmond Sumner take off from the foul line

CINCINNATI, OH - FEBRUARY 03:  Edmond Sumner #4 of the Xavier Musketeers dunks the ball during the game against the St. John's Red Storm at Cintas Center on February 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Edmond Sumner is a big reason why Xavier is likely going to be a preseason top-10 team.

On Saturday night, during Musketeer Madness, Sumner won the team’s dunk contest when he took off from the foul line.

Sumner defeated freshmen Tyrique Jones and Quentin Goodin. J.P. Macura, the reigning Big East Sixth Man of the Year, took home the honors last year.

The 6-foot-6 redshirt sophomore is coming off a debut season in which he averaged 11.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.

WATCH: Duke goes crazy for Chase Jeter’s bottle flip

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Chase Jeter #2 of the Duke Blue Devils looks on in the second half against the North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The bottle flip has become an international sensation in recent months.

It’s as simple as it sounds: flipping a water bottle in the air, attempting to have it land upright.

Duke sophomore forward Chase Jeter, in front of 9,300-plus fans, successfully pulled off the bottle flip on Saturday night at Duke’s Craziness.

Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.