Men's Basketball Faces Pittsburgh on Big Monday
gobearcats.COM Cincinnati's Deonta Vaughn, right, and Rashad Bishop, left, react after Vaughn hit a three-point basket against Connecticut in the first half of their NCAA college basketball game in Cincinnati, Wednesday Dec. 30, 2009. (AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)
gobearcats.COM
Cincinnati's Deonta Vaughn, right, and Rashad Bishop, left, react after Vaughn hit a three-point basket against Connecticut in the first half of their NCAA college basketball game in Cincinnati, Wednesday Dec. 30, 2009. (AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)
gobearcats.COM

Jan. 4, 2010

 

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Game 14: Pittsburgh at Cincinnati

Monday, Jan. 4 | 7 p.m. | Fifth Third Arena (13,176) | Cincinnati, Ohio | TV: ESPN | Radio: 700 WLW

 

Television: ESPN

Dave O’Brien (PXP)

Bill Raftery (ANA)

Jay Bilas (ANA)

 

Radio: 700 WLW

Dan Hoard (PXP)

Chuck Machock (ANA)

Mo Egger (Host)

 

Satellite Radio: Sirius 90; XM 209

 

Pay-Per-View: None

 

Streaming Video: ESPN360.com

 

Streaming Audio: GoBEARCATS.com

 

 

THE MATCH-UP

The Cincinnati Bearcats (10-3, 2-0 BIG EAST) ride a four-game winning streak into its first ESPN Big Monday appearance since 2005-06 as they take on the University of Pittsburgh (12-2, 2-0 BIG EAST) on January 4, 2010 at 7 p.m. The Panthers have won five in a row, including an 82-72 victory at No. 5/5 Syracuse this past Saturday. The ESPN’s Big Monday crew of Dave O’Brien (pxp), Bill Raftery (analyst), and Jay Bilas (analyst) will handle the call on television. Dan Hoard (pxp) and Chuck Machock (analyst) will call the game on 700 WLW.

 

THE SERIES

Saturday’s game will be the 14th meeting between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh and the sixth since UC joined the BIG EAST Conference in 2005-06.  The Bearcats hold a 7-6 lead in the series, which began in 1949-50.  The Panthers have won the last three meetings and five of the last six (all since UC joined the BIG EAST), including an 85-69 win last year in Pittsburgh as the Panthers shot a program-tying record 67.4 percent from the field.

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 PANTHERS

·         Pittsburgh is 12-2 overall and 2-0 in the BIG EAST as it travels to Cincinnati. The Panthers have won five straight and eight of their last nine, including a win this past Saturday at No. 5/5 Syracuse, 82-72.

·         Pittsburgh is ranked 15th overall in the BIG EAST in scoring offense averaging 67.4 points per game with two players averaging in double figures.

·         Sophomore guard Ashton Gibbs leads the team and is 10th in the BIG EAST with a 17.4 points per game average. Junior guard Brad Wanamaker is the other Panther scoring in double digits with 12.8 points per game (29th in the BIG EAST).

·         The Panthers are 3-0 since the return of both Jermaine Dixon (9.3 ppg) and Gilbert Brown (7.7 ppg) to the roster.

·         Pitt is holding its opponents to 57.1 points per game, tops overall in the BIG EAST Conference, and 37.3 percent shooting, third in the league.

·         Pittsburgh is eighth overall in the conference with 39.5 rebounds per game, led by Wanamaker (6.6 rpg) and then Gary McGhee (6.5 rpg).

 

JAN. 2 -RUTGERS GAME NOTES

·         Cincinnati is now 10-3 all-time against Rutgers, including a three-game winning streak.

·         The Bearcats have now won two games in a row in Piscataway and are now 3-2 all-time at Rutgers.

·         After snapping a three-game losing streak in conference play vs. UConn, the Bearcats have won two in a row.

·         The Bearcats are 2-0 in the BIG EAST Conference for the second time since joining the league and the first time under Mick Cronin. The 2005-06 Bearcats started BIG EAST play 2-0 under Andy Kennedy.

·         The win is the Bearcats first road win on the season, improving to 1-2 away from Fifth Third Arena.

·         It was the first start of the season for junior center Anthony McClain, a native of Trenton, N.J., and the third of his career.

·         Cincinnati began the game on 10-2 run, capped off by a dunk at the 14-minute mark by sophomore Dion Dixon.

·         A 9-0 run to end the first half gave the Scarlet Knights a 30-25 lead going into halftime. Cincinnati went 1-for-8 from the floor the final 2:59 of the first half.

·         The Bearcats held Rutgers to 33.3 percent (10-of-30) from the field in the first half, but the Scarlet Knights shot 50 percent from 3-point range (5-of-10), including three treys from Mike Rosario in the final 2:26 of the opening period.

·         The Bearcats held the Scarlet Knights top scorer, Mike Rosario, scoreless in the second half.

·         Cincinnati’s bench has outscored their opponents every game this season, including 34-15 against Rutgers.

·         The Bearcats out-rebounded the Scarlet Knights 40-28, the tenth-time this season Cincinnati has out-rebounded their opponent.

·         The Bearcats held Rutgers under 40 percent shooting (20-of-54, 37%), marking the fifth game in a row they have held their opponent under 40 percent shooting and eighth time this season.

·         Cincinnati dominated the offensive glass, outscoring the Knights, 21-4, in second chance points.

·         The Scarlet Knights were held to 36.8 percent shooting from behind the three-point line, including 2-for-9 shooting in the second half.

·         The Bearcats shot 77.8 percent (14-of-18), from the free-throw line, marking their highest shooting percentage from the charity stripe this season and the highest since converting 11-of-12 at Marquette last year in UC’s BIG EAST opener.

·         Vaughn’s 10 first-half points equaled his most in an opening half (10 vs. Maryland, Connecticut) this season and marks the second consecutive game he has reached 10 points in the first half.

·         Vaughn finished with a game-high and season-high tying 17 points.

·         Vaughn has knocked down three 3-pointers in three consecutive games, and is shooting 60 percent (9-of-15) from behind the 3-point line during the stretch.

·         Sophomore Yancy Gates contributed 10 points (5-of-7 shooting) and eight rebounds off the bench.

·         Gates, Rashad Bishop, Darnell Wilks, Cashmere Wright, and Dion Dixon combined to score 34 points off the bench for Cincinnati.

·         Stephenson recorded a career-high tying three steals, the third time he has accomplished that feat on the season.

 

THE “BIG” SHOW COMES TO THE QUEEN CITY

·         The Pittsburgh game marks the third time since Cincinnati joined the BIG EAST Conference that the Bearcats have been featured as part of the ESPN’s Big Monday telecasts.

·         The two previous appearances came in 2005-06 as UC lost at Connecticut on Jan. 9, 2006, 70-59, and beat Louisville, 74-68 in Fifth Third Arena.

 

·         FOR STARTERS

·         Cincinnati’s 2-0 start to BIG EAST Conference play marks the second time since the Bearcats joined the league it has started with a pair of wins.

·         In Cincinnati’s inaugural season in the league in 2005-06, then-head coach Andy Kennedy led the Bearcats to wins over DePaul and Marquette to open conference play.

·         The 2-0 start this season is Mick Cronin’s best start in league play since taking over in 2006-07.

·         UC has never opened BIG EAST play with three wins.

 

TOUGH STRETCH

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

·         The Bearcats are 2-0 so far during the stretch, including a home win over No. 10/10 Connecticut and its first road win of the season at Rutgers.

·         UC’s BIG EAST opponents during the stretch (Connecticut, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, and Seton Hall) are a combined 40-13 (.755).

 

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 THREE GAMES

·         Cincinnati has a record of 3-0 with home wins over Winthrop (74-57) and No. 10/10 Connecticut (71-69), and a road win at Rutgers (65-58).

·         Senior guard Deonta Vaughn leads the team in scoring, averaging 15.0 points per game. During the stretch he has scored in double figures in all three games, matching his season high with 17 points vs. UConn and Rutgers.

·         Freshman Lance Stephenson (13.0 ppg) and Yancy Gates (10.7 ppg) are also averaging double-digit points over the three games.

·         The UC defense is limiting opponents to 61.3 points per game on 37.4 percent shooting (65-of-174) from the field.

·         Cincinnati is shooting 44.4 percent (75-of-169) from the field during the stretch.

·         The Bearcats, who are one of the nation’s top teams in terms of rebounding margin (+8.4 rpg - 18th in NCAA), are pulling down 39.7 boards a contest during the last three games. They are allowing opponents 32.3 rebounds per game during this latest stretch for a +7.4 margin.

·         Senior guard Deonta Vaughn, who was three for his last 23 3-point attempts (13.0 percent) before the current three-game stretch is 9-for-14 (.643) in the last three games.

 

FIFTH THIRD ADVANTAGE

·         The Bearcats are 273-55 (.832) in games at Fifth Third Arena since the building opened in 1989-90.

·         Under Mick Cronin, UC is 37-21 in Fifth Third (.638).

·         UC is 7-0 at home and 6-0 in Fifth Third Arena this season. The Miami (OH) game is considered a home game despite being played at U.S. Bank Arena.

·         The seven consecutive wins match the best home winning streak for the Bearcats since 2004-05, when they won nine games, spanning two seasons.

·         The Bearcats are averaging 77.6 points per game at home led by Lance Stephenson’s 13.6 points per game.

·         Junior forward Rashad Bishop’s 10.0 ppg at home is 4.3 points higher than his road average of 4.7 ppg, the largest differential on the team.

 

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

·         After getting off to a tough start to the season averaging 9.7 points per game, two-time all-BIG EAST performer Deonta Vaughn has begun to find his shooting stroke over the last three games and has played an important role during UC’s four-game winning streak.

·         Senior guard Deonta Vaughn, who was three for his last 23 3-point attempts (13.0 percent) before the last three games is 9-for-14 (.643) in the last three games.

·         Despite his struggles shooting and scoring early, Vaughn did not allow other areas of his game to suffer as his assist and rebounding numbers stayed the same or improved.

 

FINDING THEIR STROKE

·         Before the start of BIG EAST Conference play, Cincinnati found times tough at the free throw line, converting on 61.1 (124-of-203) percent of its attempts from the charity stripe.

·         In its two BIG EAST game vs. Connecticut and Rutgers, the Bearcats are a combined 28-of-37 (.757).

·         Deonta Vaughn (6-for-6) and Lance Stephenson (9-for-10) are a combined 15-for-16 (.938) in the two league games.

·         Stephenson was perfect (7-for-7) for Cincinnati in the win over No. 10/10 Connecticut, including the game winning free throws with 0.7 seconds remaining.

 

DEFENSIVE STOPPERS ...

·         One of the major reasons for Cincinnati’s success this season has been its defense, which has held its opponents to 61.9 points per game.

·         10 of UC’s 13 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 (280-of-749) 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 14th in the nation in field-goal percentage defense (.374) and tied for 57th in scoring defense (61.9 ppg).

 

... AND REBOUNDING FIENDS

·         Besides defense, the other main characteristic of UC basketball has been rebounding.

·         The Bearcats are tied for 18th in the nation in rebounding margin at +8.3 per game.

·         Cincinnati is pulling down 42.3 boards per game, while limiting opponents to 34.0 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 46th in the nation, posting 14.1 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.

 

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 7.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.6 assist per contest in 20.7 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 two averaging 9.0 or more.

·         UC is outscoring its opponents bench 383-173 (29.5-13.3 per night).

 

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.

·         He followed up Lipscomb with 11 points vs. Winthrop, marking the first time in his career he 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. He also pulled 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.

 

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 Famer 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.

Currently Vaughn is climbing several career lists at UC and needs:

26 points to tie Louis Banks (1988-91) for seventh on the career scoring list with 1,644 points.

17 assists to tie Steve Logan (1998-02) for second on the career assists list with 456.

Two starts to tie Steve Collier for fourth all-time in career starts with 104.

Two steals to tie Tarrance Gibson (1989-93) for fifth on the career steals list with 150.

37 minutes to tie Damon Flint (1993-97) for fourth in career minutes played with 3,619.

 

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.

 

UP NEXT

·         After Pittsburgh, the Bearcats take a one-game break from league action to complete its non-conference schedule at home vs. Cal State Bakersfield on Jan. 6 at 7:30 p.m. The Roadrunners are 2-10 this season, led by senior forward Trent Blakely who averages 15.2 points per game.