UC bball enters top-25

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Freshman guard Cashmere Wright wasn't aware of the news before he took the dais for Monday's media availability. So, when the question came - how does it feel to be ranked No. 22 in the nation? - he was confused.


"Who's ranked?" he asked.


You are.


Big smile across his face: "Oh. Well." And then, his voice squeaked: "It feels good."


It surely must. Especially for a guy like senior guard Deonta Vaughn, who's been a member of some struggling Bearcats squads and is the one player who's been here all four years of the Mick Cronin era as the coach has tried to rebuild the program.


"What can I say?" Vaughn said. "We earned it, showing we can play with some of the top teams in the nation. It's good we're getting some respect. It took four years to do it."


He said he was surprised it happened this week, particularly after losing the Maui Invitational finals to Gonzaga, then unranked and now No. 17. But the strength of UC's victories against Vanderbilt and Maryland were enough to impress the AP voters.


"I'm very happy for the guys," said Cronin, whose squad will play host to Texas Southern on Tuesday at 5/3. "Being in the top-25 gets your highlights on ESPN and helps with recruiting and ticket sales. But you're a loss away from dropping out of the top-25. This needs to be commonplace for us."


You also probably don't have to worry about this going to the collective head of the Bearcats. Rashad Bishop knows Cronin won't let that happen.


"It's still early in the season," Bishop said. "We still want to get to the NCAA tournament. Winning four games isn't going to do it."


--Former UC cornerback Mike Mickens was signed to the Bengals practice squad today. He was drafted by Dallas, and Tampa Bay then signed him to its 53-man roster Nov. 4. He was inactive for three games before the Bucs released him last Wednesday. Now, he'll have his chance with the Cincinnati.


--Got a Bearcats Rising book signing Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble in Westchester. Come on out. Hang with me. We'll chill.

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