For those of you who checked out the last eight days with UC on a midseason break thanks to the conference schedulers, here is all you need to know for the Bearcats return home against Rutgers tonight.
What: Rutgers at No. 24 UC
Where: Fifth Third Arena
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.,
TV/Radio: Fox Sports Ohio/WatchESPN/SNY/TW-Wisco (Jim Barbar/Bob Valvano) -- 700WLW radio (Dan/Chuck)
Follow along: UCGameday.com
2012 records: Bearcats 16-4, 4-3, Knights 12-7, 3-5
Tickets: Student tickets sold out, regular seats still available starting at $15. (CatsTix.com/1-877-CATS-TIX)
What to wear: No color scheme in place tonight.
Past results: UC beat Rutgers 68-58 earlier this month and is 6-1 at home against them.
Need to know: Since the Bearcats beat Rutgers on Jan. 12, the Scarlet Knights spiraled. They've lost three in a row and four of five. The last two losses were both by double digits (St. John's, @UConn).
Game-changing stat: Myles Mack can be deadly from 3-point range and change a game. On the season he hits 43 percent from long range, ranking sixth in the Big East and 11th in total 3-pointers made.
During Rutgers three-game losing streak, his inefficiency has helped bury them, though. He's hit just 3 of 16 (19 percent) from deep during the streak.
Who to know: Rutgers G Eli Carter. Sean Kilpatrick and the Bearcats defense shut down the Scarlet Knights leading scorer (15.4 ppg) in the first game, holding him to just six points and the only conference game this year he didn't hit a 3-pointer, going 0 for 6. He's been hit or miss lately, he had a similarly wretched performance against St. John's last week where he only scored five points on 1 of 14 shooting. Yet, when he's on he can carry this team. He scored 20 in a near upset of Notre Dame and 23 in a victory against Pittsburgh.
His biggest problem of late has been turnovers. He alone has committed 14 turnovers in the last three games. The UC defense could feast on his struggles holding on to the ball.
Record Watch: Cashmere Wright is only three steals away from passing Darnell Burton (184) for second on the all-time steals list.
By the numbers: You don't want to get into a free-throw shooting contest with the Knights, so keep an eye on how close the game is being called. Carter and Mack rank in top three of the conference in free-throw percentage. They will knock them down from the line all night. On the flip side, UC ranks 295th out of 345 Division I schools in free throw shooting (64.4 percent).
Defining matchup: Kilpatrick vs. Carter. Kilpatrick was the clear winner in the first game, it would be unrealistic to expect another inept night from Carter, but holding him below his season average would be enough to keep him from carrying the Rutgers offense and, consequently, enough for a UC win.
Good read: Voice of the Bearcats and fellow GoBearcats.com blogger Dan Hoard with a good read on Cashmere Wright being appreciative of how Cronin held him back during this knee injury.
Quotent Quotables: Cronin on the importance of focus trying to beat a team for the second time:
"We have to play Rutgers Wednesday night like it's the national championship."
Looking Ahead: This is the first of three winnable games for UC. They head to Seton Hall for an 11 a.m. tea and crumpets game on Saturday then to Providence after that. All three teams are in the bottom half of the conference and a combined 7-16 in conference play.
Great cause: Look for Mick Cronin wearing sneakers along with his suit for tonight's game, he's doing it along with all coaches this week to benefit Coaches vs. Cancer. Here's a video from Mick explaining the cause.
I want to hear from you. Send any questions, comments or photos of your experience at the game to my email at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on Twitter tonight @pauldehnerjr.