I heard a rumor that after his No. 23 SMU Mustangs lost to the Cincinnati Bearcats (for the second time this season) Thursday night, Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown mistakenly ordered a “Farad salad” at a Dallas diner.
The waitress, reportedly a bubbly, buxom brunette with a nose full of freckles, replied, “You want a what-now?”
Brown looked down at his menu and pointed to his meal of choice.
“Oh, a Cobb salad,” the waitress realized.
“What’d I say?” Brown wondered.
“You said ‘Farad salad,'” the cute server replied. “What’s a Farad?”
Brown forced a smirk and then dropped a couple of seltzer tablets into a glass of water as the waitress jiggled back to the kitchen.
(Okay, that story isn’t true. The truth is, I recently asked my buddy Schmidt: “Do you think when it’s all said and done, it’s gonna be called a ‘Farad salad?'” His reaction was the same as most people’s when my brain does that sort of thing: “You’re out of your mind.”)
Farad Cobb, sometimes known as “Farad salad,” torched a stout SMU defense (20th nationally in points allowed) Thursday night in Dallas, just as he did back on January 3 in Cincinnati. Cobb poured in 18 points in Cincy, and followed that up with an efficient 14 at Moody Coliseum. Overall, “Salad” is 11-for-19, including 6-for-12 from downtown, against the Mustangs (18-5, 9-2).
“Larry Brown’s gonna have nightmares about Farad Cobb,” Bearcats associate head coach Larry Davis joked.
While Cobb was a big reason why UC (16-6, 7-3, No. 25 in ESPN RPI) was able to grab an improbable road win Thursday night, a handful of other Bearcats were vital:
1) Troy “Clyde” Caupain
It’s no secret that as Troy goes, the Bearcats go. The 6’4″ point guard came up large against UConn last Thursday, sticking 8 of his 9 field goal attempts and finishing with a career-high 20 points in UC’s romp. On Sunday, Caupain only had 4 points and 2 assists in a shocking loss at East Carolina. He wasn’t aggressive at all in that game.
But Troy came to play in Dallas. He drove the lane and popped in a floater for UC’s first hoop, then confidently nailed a 3 and found Jermaine Sanders for a right-handed lay-up to give the ‘Cats an early 7-5 lead. Caupain finished with 14 points (wetted all three of his 3-point attempts), 4 rebounds, 4 assists and only two turnovers.
That’s a big-time performance out of the sophomore from Midlothian, VA.
2) Jermaine “Far Rockaway Style” Sanders
Speaking of big-time performances, how about ‘Maine Sanders? The lone senior in the rotation led UC in points (15), rebounds (9) and deflections (?), and yak-yak’ed a gigantic 3 from the corner to extend Cincinnati’s lead to 7 with 4:47 to go.
Since being inserted into the starting lineup six games ago, Sanders is averaging right around ten points and five boards per game. UC’s offensive efficiency has gone through the roof in that span. Scoring less than one point per possession for the season, the Bearcats are at 1.114 over the past six games, a clip that would rank 13th in the nation in offensive efficiency according to Teamrankings.com if that was a season-long pace. (UC is at 0.998 and ranks 153rd overall this season.)
Davis explained what Sanders brings to the table:
Click Here to Listen to Dan Hoard mention me and Larry talk about Jermaine before the East Carolina game.
3) Octavius “Oc” Ellis
After 14 points, 14 boards and 3 swats against East Carolina, “Oc” followed that output with 6 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 blocks against SMU on Thursday night. Brown believed Ellis was more of a factor than the numbers showed…
4) Shaq Thomas
Hip hop hooray for Shaq! The kid’s had an up-and-down season to say the least. He lost his starting spot six games ago (likely because he’s got 33 turnovers and only nine assists this season). But the New Jersey native hit three huge shots against SMU (while also contributing his customary 1-for-2 from the foul line), including an absolute heartbreaker:
UC had built a seven-point lead but saw the Mustangs cut it to three with just under 2:00 to play. With the shot clock running down, Thomas launched a 25-footer from the right wing………and canned it! Dagger!
Coach Davis also praised Shaq for being in the right spot on offense while playing a new position (the 4 spot). Big contribution off the bench for the redshirt junior.
5) Gary Clark & Coreontae DeBerry
Clark struggled at times Thursday night, only playing 18 minutes and picking up three quick fouls to begin the second half. But the freshman still managed to grab five boards, dish out 4 assists and Bill Walton a 12-footer off the glass from the right baseline in the second half.
DeBerry, meanwhile, only logged four minutes. But the 6’9″ 280-pound behemoth was productive, converting an important jump hook late, blocking a shot and grabbing two rebounds.
Overall, the big key for UC was an encouraging display of MENTAL TOUGHNESS, adhering to the advice of Coach Davis before the Bearcats took the floor. “I wrote it on the white board before the game,” Larry said. “I knew mental toughness would be more important than physical toughness in an environment like this.”
What was head coach Mick Cronin’s advice to Davis before the game? “Defend and rebound,” Mick texted, likely using a shortcut key on his phone to send those words. The Bearcats did both: UC out-rebounded SMU 32-25 and held a team shooting nearly 50% on the season to 36.5 from the field (and 3-for-14 from deep).
Big, huge, enormous bounce back road victory for the lesson-learning Bearcats on Thursday night. According to ESPN’s calculations, UC now sits at No. 25 in the Daily RPI, putting themselves back in the picture for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. If they can pull it off, it’d be the fifth straight appearance for the program.
Next up: Saturday vs South Florida (8:00), then Tuesday at Temple (7:30). Both games will air on CBS Sports Network.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy your weekend!
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