Men's Basketball Heads to Madison Square Garden to Face St. John's
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Jan. 12, 2010

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Game 17: Cincinnati at St. John’s

Wednesday, Jan. 13 | 7 p.m. | Madison Square Garden (19,786) | New York, N.Y. | TV: ESPNU | Radio: 700 WLW

 

 

Television: ESPNU

Dan McLaughlin (PXP)

Tim Welsh (ANA)

 

Radio: 700 WLW

Dan Hoard (PXP)

Chuck Machock (ANA)

Mo Egger (Host)

 

Satellite Radio: Sirius 126

 

Pay-Per-View: None

 

Streaming Video: None

 

Streaming Audio: GoBEARCATS.com

 

 

THE MATCH-UP

The Cincinnati Bearcats (11-5, 2-2 BIG EAST) finish a two-game BIG EAST road swing through the northeast taking on St. John’s (10-5, 0-3 BIG EAST) Wednesday, Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. at Madison Square Garden in New York City. UC lost the first game of the road trip at Seton Hall last Saturday, 83-76. The Red Storm has dropped four of its last five games, including three straight in league play. The game will be telecast on ESPNU with Dan McLaughlin  (pxp) and Tim Welsh (analyst) handling the call. Dan Hoard (pxp) and Chuck Machock (analyst) will call the game on 700 WLW.

 

THE SERIES

Wednesday’s meeting with St. John’s will be the 11th between the two schools. The series is tied at 5-5 with the Bearcats winning the last three meetings, including both match-ups last season. The Bearcats, who are 2-2 vs. the Red Storm in New York, are making their first appearance against St. John’s in Madison Square Garden. Junior guard Deonta Vaughn is the Bearcats’ top scorer vs. the Red Storm, averaging 16.2 ppg in five career starts, including 23 last year at St. John’s on Jan. 22.

 

 

SCOUTING THE RED STORM

·         St. John’s is 10-5 overall and 0-3 in the BIG EAST heading into Wednesday’s game vs. Cincinnati.

·         The Red Storm has lost four of its last five and its last three straight in BIG EAST play, including a 75-68 decision at Louisville on Jan. 9.

·         STJ averages 69.3 points per game offensively, while giving up 64.5 points per contest — a +4.8 scoring margin which was ranked 115th in the NCAA heading into the week.

·         Junior guard/forward D.J. Kennedy leads the team or has a share of the lead in points (1st, 16.3 ppg), rebounds (t-1st, 6.7 rpg), and assists (1st, 3.5 apg). He is ranked 11th in the BIG EAST in overall scoring.

·         Junior guard Dwight Hardy is the other St. John’s player averaging double figures with 11.5 points per game.

·         Junior forward Sean Evans is tied with Kennedy for the team lead in rebounds (6.7 rpg).

·         St. John’s is ranked 63rd in the nation in blocked shots, posting 4.7 bpg. STJ is led by junior forward/center Dele Coker’s 1.5 blocks per game.

 

JAN. 9 - SETON HALL GAME NOTES

·         The Pirates hit their free throws in the final minute to close out the 83-76 win over the Bearcats.

·         With the win, Seton Hall has now won three straight over Cincinnati and the Pirates now lead the all-time series 6-5.

·         UC shot 52.6 percent (30-of-57) from the floor, which is the second straight game that UC has shot over 50 percent from the floor. Seton Hall shot 50 percent (28-of-56) from the field, marking the first time this season that a team has shot 50 percent from the floor against the Bearcats.

·         The Pirates connected on 21-of-24 attempts from the free throw line compared to just 9-of-11 attempts for the Bearcats. The 81.8 free throw percentage for Cincinnati is its highest of the season.

·         UC fell to 10-2 on the season when outrebounding its opponent. The Bearcats outrebounded the Pirates 34-22.

·         After scoring 56 bench points in a win over Cal State Bakersfield, UC’s bench contributed just 19 points against Seton Hall. The Pirates outscored UC 24-12 in points off turnovers.

·         Trailing 74-62 with 3:52 left in the game, UC made one last surge as a freshman Cashmere Wright lay-up cut the deficit to five with 2:15 remaining, before a senior Deonta Vaughn trey made it 76-72 with 1:07 to play.

·         An 8-0 Pirates spurt to midway through the second half gave SHU its largest lead of the contest, 68-53, with 8:07 remaining in regulation.

·         A sophomore Yancy Gates dunk gave the Bearcats its largest lead of the game, 26-14, with 11:13 left in the opening half, but Seton Hall outscored Cincinnati 25-4 over the final 11:13 to take a 39-30 lead into the intermission.

·         Cincinnati connected on six of its first seven attempts from the floor, including a trio of three-pointers by Vaughn, to take a 17-9 lead with 15:37 left in the first half.

·         Vaughn finished with a game-high 20 points, his first 20-point scoring effort of the season. Vaughn also hit a season-best six 3-pointers.

·         With his 20 points and 35 minutes played, Vaughn moved past Louis Banks for seventh on UC’s all-time scoring list and into third on UC’s career minutes played chart. Vaughn also moved into third on UC’s career starts list making his 105th career start.

·         Vaughn has made 18 of his last 32 (56.3 percent) 3-point field goals over the last six games compared to 25.8 percent (16-of-62) shooting from three over his first 10 games.

·         Freshman Lance Stephenson added 15 points and has now scored in double-figures in all four of Cincinnati’s BIG EAST games.

·         Gates added 14 points and five rebounds, while junior Ibrahima Thomas scored 10 points and also grabbed five rebounds.

·         Stephenson and Gates combined to score Cincinnati’s first 10 points out of halftime.

·         Vaughn led UC out of the gates and scored nine of UC’s first 17 points.

 

UC GARDEN MEMORIES

·         UC is 18-16 (.529) overall in Madison Square Garden.

      14-9 at the Garden that stood at Eighth Ave. between 49th and 50th and was in use between 1925 and 1968.

      4-7 at the current facility located on Seventh Ave. between 31st and 33rd.

·         UC played its first game in Madison Square Garden on February 23, 1950 and defeated No. 10-ranked Long Island University, 83-65.

·         On Jan. 9, 1958, Oscar Robertson scored 56 of Cincinnati’s 118 points against Seton Hall in Madison Square Garden as a sophomore, single-handedly outscoring the Pirates (54 points).­ Robertson recorded another 50-point game against Iowa as a senior at MSG. 

·         As a team, the Bearcats won the Holiday Festival Tournament in the Garden in 1959 and 1961 and captured third-place in the 1955 NIT.

·         During one of UC’s games at the Garden in 1952, the play of the Bearcats caught the eye of a high school athlete from Brooklyn named Sandy Koufax.  Koufax ended up attending UC on a basketball scholarship where he played freshmen basketball and then baseball.  He was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers while attending UC in 1953-54 and went on to have a Hall of Fame career as one of baseball’s all-time great pitchers.

·         Under head coach Mick Cronin, the Bearcats are 0-2 in MSG, losing in the first round of the BIG EAST Championship the last two seasons.

·         Senior guard Deonta Vaughn is UC’s active highest scoring player in the Gardens averaging 22.5 points, 3.5 assists, and 2.5 steals per game in two career starts. In 2007-08 in the first round of the BIG EAST Championship vs. Pittsburgh, Vaughn posted a memorable night with 30 points vs. the eventual tournament champion, including 23 points in the second half. UC lost the game to the Panthers by a final of 70-64.

 

OFF TO A GOOD START

·         Under head coach Mick Cronin, the Cincinnati Bearcats have shown improvement each season during the rebuilding process going from 11 wins in 2006-07 to 13 wins in 2007-08 to 18 wins in 2008-09.

·         Now in his fourth season behind the bench, UC is off to its best start under Cronin with an 11-5 mark.

 

LONG STRETCH BEHIND THEM

·         Starting with the Connecticut game on Dec. 30, the Bearcats had an 11-day stretch in which they played five games, including four BIG EAST Conference games.

·         The Bearcats went 3-2 during the stretch, including a home win over No. 10/10 Connecticut (Dec. 30), its first road win of the season at Rutgers (Jan. 2), and a non-conference victory over Cal State Bakersfield (Jan. 6). The Bearcats lost the final two league games of the run on Jan. 4 vs. No. 23/rv Pittsburgh (74-71) and on Jan. 9 at Seton Hall (83-76).

·         UC’s BIG EAST opponents during the stretch (Connecticut, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, and Seton Hall) were a combined 43-17 (.717).

 

UC VS. RANKED OPPONENTS

·         UC is 3-1 vs. teams ranked in the AP 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 loss was to No. 23 Pittsburgh, 74-71, on Jan. 4, and Cincinnati’s first at home this season.

·         Cincinnati is 114-169 (.403) all-time vs. opponents ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, including a 23-21 (.523) record in Fifth Third Arena.

·         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 6-17 vs. ranked opponents under Cronin.

 

TALE OF THE TAPE — LAST THREE GAMES

·         Cincinnati has a record of 1-2 with a win vs. Cal State Bakersfield (87-58) and losses to then-No. 23/rv Pittsburgh (74-71) and Seton Hall (83-76).

·         Senior guard Deonta Vaughn leads the team in scoring, averaging 15.3 points per game. He posted his first 20-point game of the season at Seton Hall.

·         Freshman Lance Stephenson (11.3 ppg) and Yancy Gates (10.7 ppg) are also averaging in double figures.

·         The UC defense is giving up 71.7 points per game during the stretch — 7.9 more points per game than its season average (63.8 ppg).

·         Cincinnati is shooting 51.1 percent (92-of-180) from the field during the stretch, including 34.5 percent from 3-point range. Both shooting percentages are more than five percent higher than the team averages (.448 FG%; .294 3-PT FG%) for the year.

·         The Bearcats, who are one of the nation’s top teams in terms of rebounding margin (+8.3 rpg - 13th in NCAA), are pulling down 36.0 boards a contest during the last three games. They are allowing opponents 27.7 rebounds per game during this latest stretch for a +8.3 margin.

·         Senior guard Deonta Vaughn, who was struggling with his 3-point shot (.325, 25-of-77) before the current stretch is 9-for-17 (.529) in the last three games.

 

TOUGH TIMES ON THE ROAD

·         The Bearcats are 1-3 in away games this season and have a record of 8-30 (.211) in road games under Mick Cronin.

·         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.

·         Cincinnati picked up its first road win of the season at Rutgers, knocking off the Scarlet Knights, 65-58. It was UC’s  first road win since Feb. 7 of last year when the Bearcats beat Georgetown, 64-62, in overtime at the Verizon Center.

·         UC has shot 40.5 percent and averaged 66.8 points per game on the road this season compared to 48.8 percent shooting and 77.9 points in Fifth Third Arena.

·         Cincinnati’s 3-point shooting stuggles the most on the road as the Bearcats are converting just 18-of-82 (.220) treys away from home.

 

FIFTH THIRD ADVANTAGE

·         The Bearcats are 274-56 (.830) in games at Fifth Third Arena since the building opened in 1989-90.

·         Under Mick Cronin, UC is 38-22 in Fifth Third (.633).

·         UC is 8-1 at home and 7-1 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 to start the year matched the best home winning streak for the Bearcats since 2004-05, when they won nine games, spanning two seasons.

·         The Bearcats are averaging 77.9 points per game at home led by Lance Stephenson’s 12.7 points per game.

 

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 four BIG EAST games and the Cal State Bakersfield game, the Bearcats are a combined 59-of-79 (.747) — 13.6 percent higher.

·         Deonta Vaughn (9-for-9), Lance Stephenson (13-for-15) and Dion Dixon (8-for-9) are a combined 30-for-33 (.909) in the last five games.

·         Stephenson was perfect (7-for-7) for Cincinnati in the win over then-No. 10/10 Connecticut on Dec. 30, including the game winning free throws with 0.7 seconds remaining.

 

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 six games.

·         Vaughn struggled with his 3-point shot (.258, 16-of-62) through UC’s first 10 games but is 18 for his last 32 (.563) from 3-point range in his last six games.

·         Vaughn posted his first 20-point game of the season at Seton Hall on Jan. 9 with a 7-for-13 shooting performance, including 6-of-11 from 3-point range.

·         The Bearcats are 8-2 this season and 41-39 (.513)during Vaughn’s career when he scores in double figures.

 

DEFENSIVE STOPPERS ...

·         One of the major reasons for Cincinnati’s success this season has been its defense, which has held its opponents to 63.8 points per game.

·         11 of UC’s 16 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 38.6 percent (352-of-911) vs. UC.

·         Even in UC’s five losses, UC’s defense has allowed its opponents to shoot 44.4 percent shooting overall and 32.5 percent from 3-point range.

·         The Bearcats rank 29th in the nation in field-goal percentage defense (.386) and 82nd in scoring defense (63.8 ppg).

 

... AND REBOUNDING FIENDS

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

·         The Bearcats are 13th in the nation in rebounding margin at +8.3 per game.

·         Cincinnati is pulling down 41.1 boards per game, while limiting opponents to 32.8 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).

·         Sophomore Yancy Gates has posted double-digit rebounds four times this season and UC is 3-1 in those games (Prairie View A&M, Vanderbilt, Maryland, Pittsburgh). His 14 rebounds in the loss to Pitt are a career high.

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

·         UC is 10-2 when outrebounding its opponents this season and 1-3 when its opponent outrebounds the Bearcats.

 

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 7.4 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.7 assist per contest in 19.6 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.

·         Against Cal State Bakersfield, Dixon came off the bench to post a team-high 13 points and a team-high tying four assists.

·         Dixon spends his time playing the point and shooting guard positions.

 

BENCH STRENGTH

·         Now in his fourth year, Coach Cronin has developed a bench that has 11 players averaging 10 minutes or more a game.

·         UC is outscoring its opponents bench 479-236 (29.9-14.8 per night).

·         UC’s bench outscored Cal State Bakersfield’s bench 56-11. The 56 bench points are the most bench points scored in the Cronin era.

·         UC’s bench has been outscored twice this season. Both instances came in losses to Pittsburgh (Jan. 4) and Seton Hall (Jan. 9).

 

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-ruh-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.

·         Since joining the team, Thomas averages 6.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per game. He has started six games for Cincinnati.

·         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.

·         Against Cal State Bakersfield, Thomas was UC’s second-leading scorer with 11 points on 3-4 shooting from the field and a perfect 5-for-5 from the line. It was his third double-figure scoring game of the year.

·         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.

 

BUSTING OUT OF THE GATES

·         To compete in the BIG EAST Conference every team needs a big man who can score, rebound, and play defense and sophomore forward Yancy Gates is the player Coach Cronin looks to fill that role.

·         A 2009 BIG EAST All-Rookie selection, Gates is the Bearcats top rebounder (6.6 rpg), third-leading scorer (10.6 ppg) and,  a new facet, the squad’s top shot blocker (1.4 bpg).

·         Gates has posted double-figure points in four of his last six games, including a season-high 16 points vs. Pittsburgh.

·         He posted his fourth double-digit rebounding night vs. Pittsburgh with a career-high 14 boards.

·         Despite playing in the paint, Gates has made it to the free-throw line just five times in UC’s last five games. Four of those attempts came in the last game vs. Seton Hall where he was perfect from the line.

 

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 is among the team’s top three in points (1st, 12.7 ppg), rebounds (3rd, 4.8 rpg), assists (2nd, 2.8 apg), and steals (2nd, 1.0 spg).

·         He is also 27th in the BIG EAST in overall scoring, the high scoring freshman in the league.

·         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