Men's Basketball Hits Road for BIG EAST Game at Rutgers
gobearcats.COM Connecticut's Stanley Robinson, right, knocks a rebound away from Cincinnati's Steve Toyloy in the second half of their NCAA college basketball game in Cincinnati, Wednesday Dec. 30, 2009. (AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)
gobearcats.COM
Connecticut's Stanley Robinson, right, knocks a rebound away from Cincinnati's Steve Toyloy in the second half of their NCAA college basketball game in Cincinnati, Wednesday Dec. 30, 2009. (AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)
gobearcats.COM

Jan. 1, 2010

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Game 13: Cincinnati at Rutgers

Saturday, Jan. 2 | 8 p.m. | Louis Brown Athletic Center (8,000) | Piscataway, N.J. | TV: FOX Sports Ohio/ BE Network | Radio: 700 WLW                       

 

THE MATCH-UP

The Cincinnati Bearcats (9-3, 0-0 BIG EAST), who have won its last three games at home in Fifth Third Arena, including a thrilling 71-69 victory over No. 10/10 Connecticut on Wednesday, take to the road for their first BIG EAST Conference road game of the year at Rutgers on Saturday, Jan. 2 at 8 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the BIG EAST Network and locally on FOX Sports Ohio (check local listings for channels) with Eamon McAnaney (pxp) and John Celestand (analyst) on the call. Dan Hoard (pxp) and Chuck Machock (analyst) will call the game on 700 WLW.

 

THE SERIES

Saturday’s game will be the 13th meeting between Cincinnati and Rutgers and the sixth since UC joined the BIG EAST Conference.  The Bearcats hold a 9-3 lead in the series, which began in 1971-72.  The Bearcats have won the last two meetings

and took last year’s match-up in Fifth Third Arena, 71-59, despite trailing by as many as 16 points in the first half. Deonta Vaughn led the charge with 24 points, a then-career high eight rebounds and four assists.

 

SCOUTING THE SCARLET KNIGHTS

·         Rutgers is 9-3 overall heading into Saturday’s match-up with Cincinnati having won six in a row before losing, 81-67, at No. 9/9 North Carolina on Monday night.

·         Rutgers is ranked 13th overall in the BIG EAST averaging 69.0 points per game with two players averaging in double figures.

·         Sophomore guard Mike Rosario leads the team and is sixth in the BIG EAST with a 18.1 points per game average.

·         The Knights are without their second-leading scorer Gregory Echenique (12.6 ppg), who will miss the remainder of the season due to an eye injury suffered in December.

·         UConn allows its opponents 63.8 points per game, which ranks 10th overall in the league.

·         Freshman forward Dane Miller leads the team in rebounding with 5.7 boards per night.

·         Senior center Hamady Ndiaye leads the nation in blocked shot at 5.42 per game, while the Knights are second in the nation and in the BIG EAST as a team at 9.1 a contest, trailing only UC’s previous opponent Connecticut.

·         The Scarlet Knights are the BIG EAST’s third-best team in guarding the 3-point line, holding opponents to just 29.1 percent (65-of-223).

 

DEC. 30 -CONNECTICUT GAME NOTES

·         Cincinnati is now 8-5 all-time against teams ranked No. 10 in the Associated Press poll, and 22-20 vs. ranked opponents at Fifth Third Arena.

·         The 71-69 win vs. Connecticut was the Bearcats first win against Connecticut (1-5).

·         The win snapped a three-game losing streak in conference play.

·         The win improved the Bearcats to 7-0 at home on the season. The seven consecutive wins match the best home winning streak for the Bearcats since 2003-05, when they won 11 games, spanning two seasons.

·         The attendance was 10,409, the largest home crowd of the year.

·         Back-to-back 3-pointers in an 18 second span by senior Deonta Vaughn at the midway point of the first half gave UC a 24-16 lead.

·         The Bearcats held UConn to 32.4 percent (12-of-37) from the field in the first half, including 0-for-6 from 3-point range.

·         UC forced nine Husky turnovers in the opening half, and scored 14 points off of the turnovers. Cincinnati finished with 21 points off of 14 UConn turnovers.

·         Cincinnati’s bench outscored Connecticut’s 15-10, including six points apiece from Yancy Gates and Rashad Bishop

·         For the first time this season the Bearcats won, despite being outrebounded. UConn held a 41-39 edge on the glass, despite UC outrebounding the Huskies, 20-16, in the final 20 minutes.

·         The Bearcats extended their lead to 12 points at the 9:00 minute mark, equaling the largest lead of the game, on a lay-up by Lance Stephenson.

·         At the 6:00 minute mark, senior Deonta Vaughn drained two free-throws, giving him points 1,600 and 1,601 of his UC career.

·         Cincinnati did not allow the Huskies a blocked shot. UConn came into the game leading the nation in rejections, with 10.1 per game. UC blocked six Connecticut shots, two short of its season high.

·         Senior guard Deonta Vaughn fouled out of the game at the 1:30 mark for the Cats, finishing with a season-high 17 points.

·         The Bearcats held UConn under 40 percent shooting (24-of-64, 37.5%), marking the fourth game in a row they have held their opponent under 40 percent and the seventh time this season.

·         Vaughn’s 10 first half points equal his most in the opening half (10 vs. Maryland) this season.

·         Vaughn knocked down three 3-pointers, passing Field Williams for second-place on the career 3-pointer list.

·         Junior Larry Davis contributed nine points (4-of-8) from the floor, all coming in the second half.

·         Rashad Bishop continued his strong three-point shooting, going 2-of-4 from three-point range. On the season he is now shooting 39.3 percent (11-of-28).

·         Freshman Lance Stephenson led the Bearcats in scoring with 21 points, notching his second 20-point game of the season.

·         Vaughn’s 17 points give him 1,601 for his career, passing Lloyd Batts (1585), and Jack Twyman (1598) and moving him into eighth place all-time. Next up on the list for Vaughn is Louis Banks (1,644). He becomes the eighth player in school history with at least 1,600 points.

·         Sophomore guard Dion Dixon recorded a season-high four assists.

·         Junior forward Ibrahima Thomas, making just his third start at UC, notched season highs in rebounds (9), minutes played (29), and tied season-highs in offensive rebounds (3), and blocked shots (2).

·         Freshman Lance Stephenson set a career-high in free-throws made and attempted, going 7-7 at the charity stripe, including the two game-winning shots with 0.7 seconds left in the game.

 

TOUGH STRETCH

·         Starting with the Connecticut game on Wednesday, Dec. 30, the Bearcats are in the midst of an 11-day stretch where they will play five games, including four BIG EAST Conference games.

·         UC’s BIG EAST opponents during the stretch (Connecticut, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, and Seton Hall) are a combined 38-11 (.776).

 

ROAD OPENERS

·         UC’s game vs. Xavier at the Cintas Center was its first “official” road game of the season.

·         The Bearcats’ three games in Maui were considered neutral site contests, while the Miami (OH) game at U.S. Bank Arena is considered a “home” game since Cincinnati moved a home contest to an arena within the city limits.

·         The Bearcats are 0-2 in away games this season and have a record of 7-29 (.194) in road games under Mick Cronin.

·         UC has shot 35.2 percent on the road this season vs. Xavier and UAB and is averaging 63.0 points.

·         Cincinnati’s last road win was a 64-62 overtime victory at Georgetown last season on Feb. 7.

 

UC VS. RANKED OPPONENTS

·         Cincinnati is 114-168 (.404) all-time vs. opponents ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, including a 23-20 (.535) record in Fifth Third Arena.

·         UC is 3-0 vs. teams ranked in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll this season after knocking off No. 24/24 Vanderbilt and No. 21/22 Maryland in the first and second rounds of the 2009 EA Sports Maui Invitational, respectively, and No. 10/10 Connecticut at home on Dec. 30.

·         The wins vs. Vanderbilt and Maryland marked the first time since the 1999-00 season that Cincinnati defeated ranked opponents in consecutive games. That year, UC defeated No. 25 Gonzaga 75-68 on Dec. 4, 1999, before defeating No. 7 North Carolina 77-68 on Dec. 8, 1999.

·         UC is 6-16 vs. ranked opponents under Cronin.

 

TALE OF THE TAPE — LAST FIVE GAMES

·         Cincinnati has a record of 3-2, winning the last three games vs. Lipscomb, Winthrop, and Connecticut.

·         Freshman guard Lance Stephenson leads the team in scoring, averaging 15.6 points per game. During the stretch, he has scored in double figures three times, including a season-high 22 points vs. Xavier on Dec. 13 and 21 vs. Connecticut on Dec. 30.

·         The UC defense is limiting opponents to 65.0 points per game on 36.8 percent shooting (114-of-310) from the field.

·         Cincinnati shooting 42.4 percent (133-of-314) from the field during the stretch, but that number climbs to 48.8 percent if you remove the Bearcats 29.5 percent (31-of-105) shooting from behind the arc.

·         The Bearcats, who are one of the nation’s top teams in terms of rebounding margin (+8.0 rpg - t-24th in NCAA), are pulling down 41.0 boards a contest during the last five games. They are allowing opponents 39.0 rebounds per game during this latest stretch for a +2.0 margin.

·         Despite the team’s 41.0 rebounds per game in the last five, no UC player is averaging more than Deonta Vaughn’s 5.4 rebounds per game. Nine players are averaging two or more rebounds per game.

·         Senior guard Deonta Vaughn was three for his last 23 3-point attempts (13.0 percent) before knocking down all three of his attempts vs. Winthrop and 3-of-5 vs. Connecticut. He is now 9-for-30 (.300) from 3-point range in his last five games.

 

DEFENSIVE STOPPERS ...

·         One of the major reasons for Cincinnati’s success in this season has been its defense, which has held its opponents to 62.2 points per game.

·         Nine of UC’s 12 opponents this season have scored 64 points or less. Despite giving up 83 points to Xavier, Cincinnati limited XU to 61 points in regulation.

·         Opponents are shooting 37.4 percent (260-of-695) vs. UC.

·         Even in UC’s three losses, UC’s defense has been solid holding its opponents to 41.1 percent shooting overall and 27.8 percent from 3-point range.

·         The Bearcats rank 16th in the nation in field-goal percentage defense (.374) and 64th in scoring defense (62.3 ppg).

... AND REBOUNDING FIENDS

Besides defense, the other main characteristic of UC basketball over the last 20 years has been rebounding.

·         The Bearcats are tied for 24th in the nation in rebounding margin at +8.0 per game.

·         Cincinnati is pulling down 42.5 boards per game, while limiting opponents to 34.5 rebounds.

·         Five times this season UC has posted 45 or more rebounds in a game (Prairie View A&M - 47, Vanderbilt - 53, Maryland - 47, Texas Southern - 47, Xavier - 52).

·         On the offensive glass, UC is tied for 47th in the nation, posting 14.2 offensive rebounds per game.

·         Sophomore Yancy Gates has posted double-digit rebounds three times this season and UC is undefeated in those games (Prairie View A&M, Vanderbilt, Maryland).

·         Dion Dixon and Lance Stephenson have Cincinnati’s other two double-figure rebounding performances.

 

DEEP THREAT

·         Coming into the season, junior Rashad Bishop had a career three-point shooting percentage of 27.9 percent.

·         While UC has struggled from behind-the-arc to start the season (29.0 percent), Bishop has thrived from long range this season.

·         Bishop has made a 3-pointer in eight of 12 games this season and is shooting 39.3 percent (11-of-28) from the three, tops on the team.

·         Against Lipscomb on Dec. 19, Bishop went 5-for-5 from the field, including a career-best 3-of-3 from 3-point range.

·         Against Connecticut on Dec. 30, Bishop went 2-for-4 from behind the arc and is five for his last 12 (.417).

 

UC’S SIXTH MAN

·         Sophomore Dion Dixon has become the Bearcats “Sixth Man” this season, a role he started to take on during BIG EAST play last year.

·         As the Bearcats “sixth man,” Dixon averages 7.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.6 assist per contest in 20.8 minutes per game.

·         He posted his first double-double of the year coming off the bench vs. No. 24/24 Vanderbilt in the opening round of the Maui Invitational with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and an assist as Cincinnati knocked off the Commodores, 67-58.

·         Dixon notched his third double-figure scoring performance at UAB with 13 points. He was the only Bearcat in double-figures vs. the Blazers.

·         In the following game at home, Dixon posted a 15 point scoring effort against Lipscomb with 13 of those points coming in the first half.

 

BENCH STRENGTH

·         Now in his fourth year, Coach Cronin has developed a bench that has nine players averaging 10 minutes or more a game and another averaging 9.0 or more.

·         UC is outscoring its opponents bench 29.1-13.2 per night (349-158).

 

HIS TIME HAS COME

·         After transferring to UC following the first quarter last year and sitting out the first seven games this season, junior forward Ibrahima (ib-bruh-HEE-muh) Thomas made his debut in a Bearcats uniform at Xavier in the Crosstown Shootout.

·         Thomas scored two points, grabbed two rebounds, and blocked a shot in seven minutes of action vs. the Musketeers.

·         Thomas made his first start as a Bearcat against Lipscomb on Dec. 19 and recorded his first double-digit scoring effort with 10 points and added six boards.

·         Thomas followed up Lipscomb with 11 points vs. Winthrop. It is the first time in his career that he has had consecutive double-figure scoring efforts.

·         Despite a 1-for-7 shooting night against Connecticut (Dec. 30), Thomas played a key role in the game, scoring his only basket of the night on a dunk with 17 seconds remaining to put UC up, 69-66, and pulling down a game-high tying nine rebounds.

·         Thomas transferred to Cincinnati from Oklahoma State last season at the end of the fall quarter after starting seven games for the Cowboys and averaging 8.3 points and 3.9 rebounds. He also blocked eight shots.

·         Thomas is a native of Dakar, Senegal.

·         Thomas and Rutgers senior center Hamady Ndiaye are both from Dakar, Senegal and played together at Stoneridge Preparatory School in Simi Valley, Calif.

 

VAUGHN IN SEARCH OF HISTORY

·         Senior guard Deonta Vaughn has started all four years at Cincinnati for head coach Mick Cronin where he has twice been named all-BIG EAST Conference (1st team in 2007-08; 3rd team in 2008-09) and led the team in points and assists all three years.

·         In UC’s game vs. Connecticut he became the eighth player in school history to score 1,600 points in his career, moving ahead of NBA Hall of Fame Jack Twyman. He also took over second place in career 3-pointers made.

·         Only Oscar Robertson, Steve Logan, and Deonta Vaughn have scored 1,600 points and dished out 400 assists in their career in Clifton.

 

ALL-AROUND EFFORT

·         The maturation of junior forward Rashad Bishop and his move to the four spot on the floor has given Coach Cronin many options, offensively and defensively.

·         After averaging 5.4 points per game as both a freshman and sophomore, Bishop has become a solid scoring option for UC, posting 8.4 points per game.

·         He scored a career-high 20 points vs. Toledo on Nov. 18 and has a combined 39 points in UC’s last five games.

·         With 13 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting from the floor against Lipscomb on Dec. 19, Bishop picked up his third double-figure scoring effort of the season, matching his double-figure scoring performances from 2008-09.

·         Bishop has a keen sense for shot selection and is the Bearcats second best shooter, converting 53.7 percent of his shots (36-of-67).

·         Bishop is also second on the team in rebounds (5.5) and is fourth in assists (1.8 apg).

·         On defense, Bishop is considered the Bearcats top defender and typically draws the opponent’s toughest assignment.

 

STEPHENSON PRESEASON ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

·         Freshman Lance Stephenson, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound guard who was named the 2009 BIG EAST Conference Preseason Rookie of the Year, committed to the Bearcats on June 30 after a highly-decorated prep career at Lincoln High School (Brooklyn, N.Y.), where he averaged 28.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 3.9 assists to earn Class AA New York State Sports Writers Association (NYSSWA) Player of the Year honors his senior year.

·         He graduated high school as the all-time leading scorer in the history of the state of New York with 2,946 points, passing fellow Lincoln High grad Sebastian Telfair, who was the 13th overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft and now plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

·         Stephenson made his college debut starting the season opener vs. Prairie View A&M. He scored seven points, pulling down four rebounds and dishing out two assists vs. the Panthers.

·         Stephenson earned BIG EAST Rookie of the Week honors for the second time this season after leading the Bearcats in scoring against local foes Miami (OH) and Xavier. He scored 11 points in a 63-59 win over the RedHawks. In an 83-79 double-overtime loss at Xavier, Stephenson scored a collegiate-high 22 points and grabbed six boards.

·         Stephenson is looking to become the first UC freshman to lead the team in scoring since his teammate Deonta Vaughn did it in 2006-07 with 14.5 points per game.