Men's Basketball Opens BIG EAST Action at Marquette|
Jan. 2, 2009
The Cincinnati Bearcats (10-3, 0-0 BIG EAST) conclude a two-game road trip on Sunday, Jan. 4 when they take on No. rv/25 Marquette (12-2, 1-0 BIG EAST) at the Bradley Center at 2 p.m. (ET). The game will be broadcast on the BIG EAST Network with Eric Collins handling play-by-play and Mike Kelley providing analysis. UC comes into its BIG EAST opener winning four of its last five contests, while Marquette is coming off of a 79-72 win over No. 15/13 Villanova in its BIG EAST opener on Jan. 1. The Golden Eagles enter Sunday’s matchup on a four-game winning streak and they have won seven of their last eight contests.
Cincinnati has won five of the last eight meetings vs. Marquette and holds a 24-16 advantage in the all-time series, but is 8-8 when playing in Milwaukee. The Golden Eagles won the last meeting in the series, 75-60, last season at Fifth Third Arena. The last time Cincinnati and Marquette played in Milwaukee, UC left the Bradley Center with a 70-66 win on Jan. 7, 2006. UC head coach Mick Cronin is 0-1 vs. the Golden Eagles.
· Marquette is 12-2 this season and 1-0 in the BIG EAST after defeating No. 15/13 Villanova, 79-72, in its BIG EAST opener on Thursday, Jan. 1.
· The Golden Eagles host the Bearcats at the Bradley Center where they are 10-0 this season and 1-0 in BIG EAST play.
· Four players average in double digits in points for Marquette led by Wesley Matthews’ 19.2 ppg. Jerel McNeal (17.6), Lazar Hayward (17.1), and Dominic James (11.4) are the other three Golden Eagle players scoring in double digits.
· Matthews, McNeal, Hayward, and James account for 80.2 percent of Marquette’s scoring.
· Hayward leads the team in rebounds, posting just under 10 boards a night (9.2 rpg).
· Senior guard Dominic James (5.1 apg) and McNeal (3.4 apg) are No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in assists.
· Maruette is shooting 46.2 percent from the field, .358 from the 3-point line and .716 from the charity stripe.
· The Tigers are outrebounding their opponents by 7.2 boards a game (38.1-30.9)
· MU is committing just 13.6 turnovers per game. On the other hand, MU is forcing its opponents into 16.2 turnovers per game.
BIG EAST OPENERS
· Cincinnati begins its BIG EAST ledger with a 2 p.m. meeting with Marquette on Sunday, Jan. 4.
· The Bearcats are 2-1 in BIG EAST openers, including a 58-57 win at Louisville last season.
· Under Mick Cronin, UC is 1-1 in BIG EAST openers.
UC VS. RANKED OPPONENTS
· Marquette enters the game as the No. 25 team in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll
· Cincinnati has played Marquette 18 times when the Golden Eagles have been ranked. UC is 12-6 against Marquette in those contests.
MEMPHIS GAME NOTES - DEC. 29
· The Bearcats’ 45 points are their fewest points this season and their fewest since scoring 42 points vs. Rutgers on Jan. 7, 2007.
· Cincinnati recorded a season-low five assists and committed a season-high tying 20 turnovers.
· UC fell to 2-3 when trailing at the half.
· Memphis outrebounded Cincinnati 44-32, dropping UC to 0-3 this season when outrebounded by its opponent.
· Cincinnati shot 26.1 percent from the field for the game, its lowest shooting percentage since shooting 26.7 percent at Connecticut on March 9, 2008.
· Cincinnati hit 18-of-23 free throw attempts compared to Memphis hitting 10-of-18 attempts from the charity stripe.
· UC’s bench averaged 32.4 bench points per game coming into the game and finished with 11 points vs. Memphis.
· UC hit a season-low tying three 3-pointers in the contest. The Bearcats also hit three 3-pointers vs. Florida State on Nov. 28, 2008.
· A 7-0 Bearcat run cut the UC deficit to five points, 37-32, with 14:18 to play in the game, but Memphis responded with a 6-0 run to jump back on top, 43-32, with 12:27 to play.
· The Bearcats were outscored 16-6 in points in the paint in the first 20 minutes. Memphis outscored Cincinnati 30-14 in points in the paint for the game.
· Cincinnati shot 21.4 percent (6-of-28) from the field in the first half compared to 34.4 percent (11-of-35) for Memphis.
· Two sophomore Darnell Wilks free throws with 5:00 to play in the first half gave the Bearcats a 19-18 lead, before Memphis closed the half on a 12-3 run to take a 30-22 lead into the intermission.
· UC started 0-of-8 from the field before freshman Dion Dixon hit a jumper with 14:28 to play in the first half.
· Junior Deonta Vaughn finished with 17 points, his ninth double-figure scoring game in his last 10 contests.
· Freshman Yancy Gates grabbed six rebounds in the first 8:59 of the opening half. Gates finished with five points and nine rebounds.
· Sophomore Rashad Bishop tied a career-high with three steals.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
· Last year, the Cincinnati Bearcats played their 13th game of the season on Jan. 1 at Louisville and knocked off the Cardinals, 58-57, to improve their record to 6-7.
· Through 13 games this season, UC has improved its win total by four and has 10 wins before the start of conference play for the first time since going 11-2 in 2005-06.
· Defensive play has been the biggest area of improvement for UC as it has limited opponents to 60.2 points per game, down 7.5 points from last year. From the field, opponents are hitting on just 36.8 percent of their shots this year.
· After defense, the boards have also keyed UC’s four-win jump as they are getting 6.5 more rebounds per game this season
· Below is a comparison of the first 13 games of 2007-08 and 2008-09:
FIFTH THIRD ADVANTAGE
· The Bearcats opened the season with just three road games in their first 14 contests before starting BIG EAST Conference play on Jan. 4 at Marquette.
· Two of the three road games were part of the Global Sports Classic. After playing home games vs. Western Illinois (Nov. 22) and Coastal Carolina (Nov. 24), the Bearcats traveled to Las Vegas for the final two rounds at the Thomas & Mack Center where they faced Florida State (Nov. 28) and UNLV (Nov. 29).
· The other lone pre-conference road game was at 2008 NCAA national runner-up Memphis on Dec. 29.
· The Bearcats are 8-1 at Fifth Third Arena this season, with its only loss coming to then No. 10/9 Xavier.
· UC is off to its best home start (8-1) since the 2004-05 team started its home campaign with an 8-0 record.
· UC is 262-51 (.837) in games at Fifth Third Arena since the building opened in 1989-90.
· Under Mick Cronin, UC is 28-16 at home (.636).
SCORING IN BUNCHES
· Junior guard Deonta Vaughn has begun to earn a reputation for scoring his points in bunches during a game, starting at last year’s BIG EAST Conference Championship in New York, when he single-handedly brought UC back against Pittsburgh with 23 of his 30 points in the second half.
· In front by three points, 32-29, with 4:06 to play in the first half vs. Mississippi State (12/18), Cincinnati went on a 15-0 run over that stretch to enter the intermission with a 47-29 lead. Vaughn scored 14 of his team-high 16 points during that run, including 11 straight points.
· Cincinnati closed out the first half vs. Eastern Kentucky (12/20) on a 17-6 run over the final 5:59 to close within four points, 36-32, after trailing in the half by as many as 15 points. Vaughn scored all eight of his first-half points during that stretch.
· The Bearcats jumped out to an 11-7 lead against Arkansas-Pine Bluff thanks to three 3-pointers from Vaughn.
· Cincinnati trailed Eastern Kentucky, 30-15, at 7:19 of the first half on Dec. 20 before mounting the second-largest comeback under head coach Mick Cronin.
· Trailing 73-71, an alley-oop dunk by Yancy Gates from Deonta Vaughn with 0.1 second left in regulation tied the game at 73, sending UC to its first overtime game this season and its first overtime game since March 2, 2008.
· The Bearcats went on a 12-4 run in overtime, including nine free throws, to pull out the dramatic victory.
· The largest comeback under Cronin was vs. West Virginia in 2006-07. Down by as many as 17 points with 10:49 left in the first half, UC, led by 32 points by Marvin Gentry, fought all the way back and downed the Mountaineers, 96-83, in overtime.
· Cronin is now 4-1 at UC in overtime games.
PLAY DEFENSE AND REBOUND
· UC basketball has built its success over the last 20 years on two core values ... defense and rebounding. Head coach Mick Cronin learned it as an assistant at UC and those same values still hold true.
· This season UC has shown marked improvement in each category, holding its opponents to 60.2 points per game and 36.8 percent shooting, while averaging 42.5 rebounds per game and a +9.6 rebounding margin. Last year, UC allowed opponents 67.8 points per contest on .430 shooting.
· UC’s +9.6 rebounding margin ranks third in the BIG EAST.
· In the most recent NCAA statistics, Cincinnati was ranked nationally among the Top 25 in rebounding margin (+11.4/4th), and field goal percentage defense (.367/22nd).
· Four players are averaging over 4.0 rebounds per game this season.
· With the addition to Mike Williams and Yancy Gates down in the blocks this year, UC has jumped from 11th in the BIG EAST in offensive rebounds per game last year (12.7) to second this season (16.3).
· In the latest release of NCAA statistics, UC’s 16.7 offensive rebounds per game ranks sixth nationally and is the second highest by a BCS program.
SHARING DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON
· In its previous four games before playing Memphis on Dec. 29, Cincinnati averaged 18.3 assists per game, posting 19 vs. Charleston Southern (Dec. 15), 20 vs. Mississippi State (Dec. 18), a season-best 21 vs. Eastern Kentucky (Dec. 20) and 13 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Dec. 22).
· Senior guard Deonta Vaughn has become more comfortable with his new role as the team’s point guard and has 24 assists in the last five games (4.8 apg).
· Vaughn needs one assists to reach 300 for his career, leaving him 107 behind Damon Flint (407) on the all-time list.
UC SHOOTS PAST BULLDOGS
· Cincinnati hit nine first-half 3-pointers vs. Mississippi State to jump out to a 47-29 halftime advantage over the Bulldogs.
· UC finished the game 12-of-27 from behind the arc (.444), its most made 3-pointers in a game this season.
THE GROOVY 70’S
· With Cincinnati’s 79-49 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Dec. 22, Cincinnati had surpassed the 70-point plateau in its fourth straight game and for the ninth time this season. UC is 9-0 in those contests.
· UC is 17-8 in head coach Mick Cronin’s two-plus seasons behind the bench when scoring 70 or more points.
· Last season, the Bearcats surpassed 70 points seven times in 32 contests.
OUT OF THE GATES
· After scoring just two points against Xavier on Dec. 13, freshman Yancy Gates has turned in four double-digit scoring nights in the past five games (vs. Charleston Southern (18), Mississippi State (12), Eastern Kentucky (17), and Arkansas-Pine Bluff (14)) and has gone for 10 or more points in six of his last eight outings. His 11.9 points per game during the stretch is second on the squad.
· For the season, Gates is the team’s second-leading scorer, averaging 10.4 points per game.
· Gates is also averaging 8.2 rebounds per contest in his last five games.
· Gates scored six of UC’s first seven points and grabbed three early rebounds to take control of the game vs. Mississippi State (Dec. 18.
· Coming off the bench, Gates scored a season-high 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field in a 74-55 win over Charleston Southern (Dec. 15).
· Gates scored 10 of his game-high 18 points in the first 12 minutes of the game vs. the Buccaneers and added seven rebounds.
· Gates grabbed six rebounds in the first 8:59 of the opening half vs. Memphis and finished with a team-high nine rebounds.
· The Cincinnati native has had eight double-figure scoring games this season and Cincinnati is 8-0 when he scores in double-figures.
FINDING MORE DEPTH
· In 2007-08, the Cincinnati Bearcats relied on their starting five to generate 72.4 percent of the offense (46.8 points per game).
· This season the tide has swung as UC’s bench is scoring 30.8 points per game or 42.6 percent of the points. The bench has been outscored twice this season and the Bearcats are 1-1 in those games.
· UC’s bench scoring average of 30.8 ppg is 13.0 ppg more than last season (17.8 ppg) and marks the first time since the 2003-04 that the Bearcats bench has averaged above 30.0 ppg. During the 2003-04 season, Cincinnati’s bench averaged 31.1 ppg over 32 games.
· Against Charleston Southern on Dec. 15, Cincinnati’s bench scored 55 points to equal the Buccaneer scoring total in the game. The last time Cincinnati’s bench scored 50-plus points in a game was on Dec. 30, 2003 in a 102-63 win over Elon, posting 50 points.
· The Bearcats’ bench has combined to score 20 or more points in 11 of 13 games this season.
· The Bearcats have four players averaging four points or more off the bench, led by the team’s fourth-leading scorer Alvin Mitchell (8.0 ppg).
· Steve Toyloy, the team’s third-leading rebounder is averaging 4.9 points and 4.5 rebounds in 15.8 minutes a game. He posted season-highs for points (14) and rebounds (9) vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff off the bench.
· Cincinnati has nine players averaging 10 or more minutes per game. Out of those nine, eight are averaging 15 minutes or more.
· In his sixth year as a Division I head coach, Mick Cronin reached his 100th career victory with a 74-55 victory over Charleston Southern on Dec. 15.
· Cronin has compiled a 103-65 (.613) record over stints at Murray State (2003-06) and Cincinnati (2006-pres.).
· Following is a list of Cronin’s milestone wins:
100 vs. Charleston Southern (UC) 74-55 Dec. 15, 2008
NOT TOYLOY-ING AROUND
· After scoring two points in Cincinnati’s four games prior to the Crosstown Shootout, Steve Toyloy reasserted himself as a scoring threat vs. the Musketeers, hitting on 5-of-7 shots and equalling his previous season-high with 11 points.
· Toyloy is one of the Bearcats top guys off the bench, posting 4.9 points and 4.5 rebounds a game.
· His .634 shooting percentage (26-of-41) is second on the team.
· Toyloy posted five or more rebounds in six of UC’s 13 games.
FINDING HIS GROOVE
· Junior guard Deonta Vaughn was the BIG EAST’s sixth-leading scorer last season, averaging 17.3 points per game. As Vaughn adjusted to the new faces on the team this season and the transition to running more of the offense as the point guard, his scoring was down over the first three games, averaging 10.3 points a night.
· Since scoring 17 vs. Coastal Carolina (Nov. 24), Vaughn has picked up where he left off in 2007-08, scoring 16.7 points per game over the last 10 games.
· Against Xavier in the Crosstown Shootout, Vaughn scored a season-high 27 points, hitting on 5-of-11 treys and 8-of-9 free throws.
NO. 5 SLIDES INTO NO. 5 SLOT
· Junior guard Deonta Vaughn made five 3-pointers vs. Xavier on Dec. 13 in the Skyline Chili Crosstown Shootout and moved into fifth-place on the career 3-pointer list ahead of former UC standout Damon Flint (1993-97).
· Vaughn has sank 193-of-558 (.346) 3-point field goal attempts in 75 career games, while Flint was 177-of-593 (.298) over his four-year career.
· Vaughn is 65 treys behind Steve Logan (1998-2002) for fourth place and needs seven more to be just the fifth Bearcat to reach the 200 3-point plateau.
· Darnell Burton is the all-time leader in 3-pointers made with 306.
KNOCKING IT DOWN
· One of the biggest differences in UC this season is its ability to shoot the ball. This year, UC is shooting 43.2 percent from the field, an improvement of 2.0 percent from last year (41.2).
· UC shot 53.2 percent (33-62) from the floor vs. Coastal Carolina (Nov. 24), its highest field-goal percentage since knocking down 34-of-63 shots (54.0 percent) in a 91-90 loss to Wofford during the 2006-07 season.
· The Bearcats lowest shooting percentage this season was 26.1 percent at Memphis (Dec. 29).
· The individual players that have made the most dramatic improvements are sophomore guard Alvin Mitchell and sophomore center Anthony McClain. Mitchell, who shot 26.3 percent last season, is the Bearcats fourth-leading scorer (8.0 ppg), hitting on 39.1 percent from the field, while McClain leads all players in shooting percentage at 70.4 percent (19-27), up 26.2 percent from last year (.442).
MITCHELL MAKES ADJUSTMENTS
· After scoring 33 points per game as a senior at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., sophomore guard Alvin Mitchell found the transition to college basketball difficult last season as he averaged 2.8 points and shot 26.3 percent from the floor.
· After spending a lot of time in the gym during the offseason, Mitchell has found his shooting touch once again and is fourth on the team in scoring with 8.0 points per game in 19.5 minutes per game off the bench.
· Against Charleston Southern, Mitchell put his all-around game on display with 16 points, a career-high nine rebounds and a career-best six assists.
· It took Mitchell just seven games this season to eclipse his 2007-08 season points total (62), and he has scored 104 points this season.
· Against Texas Southern (Nov. 18) and Western Illinois (Nov. 24), Mitchell led the team in scoring each night, improving on his career-high for points with 15 vs. TSU and 19 vs. WIU. In each game, Mitchell knocked down a career-high four 3-pointers.
· Mitchell’s 3-point shooting played a big part in the Bearcats win at UNLV. With the Bearcats trailing by two, 59-57, and 3:13 left in the game, Mitchell hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put UC up by four, a lead it did not relinquish.
· Mitchell missed most the Eastern Kentucky game on Dec. 20 suffering from a stomach ailment.
GETTING RIGHT TO BUSINESS
· With the departure of five veteran players from last year’s squad that accounted for 33.6 points per game, Cronin needed to find scoring in the off-season and his Class of 2008-09 has not disappointed.
· Despite the loss of highly-touted point guard Cashmere Wright for the season, the four new faces, which includes freshmen Dion Dixon and Yancy Gates, senior transfer Mike Williams, and junior college transfer Steve Toyloy, are averaging 30.3 points a game.
· More impressively, the group is averaging 20.6 rebounds per game — almost half of the team’s nightly average (48.5 percent).
A LONG ROAD BACK
· Senior forward Mike Williams has battled and persevered during his basketball career since first stepping foot on a college campus at the University of Texas in 2004-05.
· A highly-recruited McDonald’s All-American, Williams spent two seasons at Texas (2004-06) where he played in 58 games and averaged 2.7 points and 3.4 rebounds a game. He helped the Longhorns to an NCAA Tournament berth in 2005-06.
· After his sophomore season at Texas, Williams decided to transfer to the University of Cincinnati to join Mick Cronin who had just taken over as head coach at his alma mater.
· After sitting out the 2006-07 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Williams was set to join the Bearcats for the 2007-08 season, but was lost for the year during preseason workouts when he ruptured an Achilles tendon.
· After missing last year, Williams made his Bearcats debut during UC’s exhibition games and on Nov. 16, 2008 vs. South Dakota — a span of 973 days — played in his first regular-season game at Cincinnati. Williams scored eight points and pulled down nine rebounds vs. the Coyotes.
· Williams has made a dramatic impact on the team this season, averaging 8.1 points and 5.8 rebounds in 24.1 minutes of work.
· With 13 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, Williams notched his third double-double of the season against Eastern Kentucky (Dec. 20).
· He netted a career-high 17 points vs. UAB, knocking down 11-of-14 free throws.
· His 77.8 percent (35-of-45) free throw percentage ranks second on the team. He has been Mr. Clutch at the line in the last three minutes of close contests (10 points or less), knocking down 14-of-18 free throws (.778).
BEARCATS JOIN FIELD FOR 2009 MAUI INVITATIONAL
· The EA Sports Maui Invitational announced last month that the University of Cincinnati will replace Louisville in the 2009 tournament field.
· The Bearcats join former national champions Arizona, Maryland, and Wisconsin along with Colorado, Gonzaga, Vanderbilt and host Chaminade University of Honolulu.
· The invitational, which turns 26-years old next season, will take place Thanksgiving Week 2009 in the Lahaina Civic Center.
· It will be Cincinnati’s first appearance in the Maui Invitational.
VAUGHN A COUSY AWARD NOMINEE
· Junior guard Deonta Vaughn has been named one of 35 Division I nominees for the Bob Cousy Award presented by The Hartford.
· The award is given annually to the top collegiate male point guard spanning across all divisions within the game by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
· The selection criteria emphasize leadership, team work, success, and fundamentals as being critical parts for the game of basketball as a point guard.
· Nominations are solicited from across the country from head coaches and the winner is selected by a Blue Ribbon Selection Committee.
· Vaughn joins fellow BIG EAST Conference nominees: Edgar Sosa (Louisville), Jonny Flynn (Syracuse), Levance Fields (Pittsburgh), Malik Boothe (St. John’s), and Scottie Reynolds (Villanova).
WRIGHT OUT FOR SEASON
· For the second year in a row, the University of Cincinnati will go the season minus one of its top players as highly-touted freshman point guard Cashmere Wright suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during preseason practices.
· Wright underwent surgery to repair his ACL and will miss the season as he goes through rehabilitation over the next 6-8 months.
· Wright, a 6-0, 175-pound native of Savannah, Ga., was a highly-regarded high school prospect who was listed as one of the nation’s Top 100 players by many of the national recruiting services and was listed as the No. 12 point guard in 2007-08 by Rivals.com.
BEARCATS INK ONE IN EARLY SIGNING PERIOD
· Sean Kilpatrick, a native of White Plains, N.Y., signed a national letter of intent during the first week of the early signing period to play for UC next year.
· Kilpatrick, a 6-foot-5 guard/forward was a three-time all-league and all-section selection at White Plains Senior High School and was the school’s second-leading scorer. He averaged 25.6 ppg as a senior.
· He is is playing for Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., this season and averaged 23.0 ppg in his first five games.
· Junior guard Deonta Vaughn became the 45th player in UC basketball history to reach 1,000 points for his career when he scored 12 points in the season opener vs. South Dakota on Nov. 16.
· Vaughn equaled Jim Ard (1968-70) as the sixth-fastest player to reach the 1000-point plateau, doing it in 63 games.
· As remarkable as it was, Bearcat great Oscar Robertson scored his first 1,000 points in his first 29 games (first game of second season), averaging over 30 points a night.
· Following is a list of the 10 fastest players to 1,000 career points in UC history.