The Bearcats got a much needed win on Sunday beating No. 24 SMU 61-54 on senior day in front of a sold out crowd at Fifth Third Arena.
Senior Octavius Ellis had 8 points and 11 rebounds in his final game in Clifton. Fellow seniors Coreante DeBerry and Farad Cobb added 10 points and 6 points, respectively.
"It's a big win for our seniors and our season,” said Troy Caupain who led UC with a team-high 14 points. “We had to finish or it was all going down the drain."
UC shot 29.5 percent from the field and went 1-of-19 from deep, but still managed to take down a top 11 team in the country in RPI, forcing 17 turnovers in the win.
"People ask, ‘What's UC basketball’? You have to play tough and win when you don't make shots,” said UC head coach Mick Cronin.
“We shot five percent from three and dominated a top 25 team. It’s a credit to how hard the guys competed."
The conversation quickly turned to the Bearcats tournament hopes in the postgame press conference and whether or not UC had done enough to prove their case to make the NCAA tournament.
That’s when Mick Cronin went to bat for his team.
"We have the same record as Duke,” said Cronin. “How we could go 22-9 in this league and not get in? It’s mind boggling."
"You want to tell me we're not one of the better teams? It's a joke. Our league doesn't get respect. Hopefully the (tournament) committee watches us."
According to Joe Lunardi’s latest bracketology before UC beat SMU on Sunday, the Bearcats were a projected 11-seed, one of the last four teams in. UC improved to 2-4 against the RPI top 50 with Sunday’s win and 1-3 against the RPI top 25.
The Bearcats now prepare for the American Athletic Conference Tournament in Orlando, FL, later this week.
Mick Cronin said senior Forward Shaq Thomas, who has missed the last three games with an injury, will play in the AAC tournament. UC is the 4-seed and will take on UConn, the 5-seed, Friday at 2 p.m.