Bearcats Travel to South Bend to Face Notre Dame

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Men's Basketball |

Jan. 14, 2008

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Following their second straight win on Saturday vs. Villanova and third in the four conference games, the Cincinnati Bearcats (8-8, 3-1 BIG EAST) are tied for second place in the BIG EAST conference. They head to Notre Dame on Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. ET for a match-up with the Fighting Irish on EPSNU. UC is coming off back-to-back league wins over Syracuse and Villanova last week and hope to end a three-game losing skid to the Irish that dates back to the 1975 NCAA Tournament. Notre Dame is looking to rebound from a 92-66 loss on Saturday at Marquette by returning home to the Joyce Center where it has the nation's third-longest home winning streak at 30 games.

 

CLEANING THE GLASS: After being out-rebounded by Louisville and St. John's to open BIG EAST play, Cincinnati dominated the boards vs. Syracuse and Villanova, posting a combined 77-60 advantage in the two contests. UC will have its hands full with the Irish, who have out-rebounded their opponents by an average of 10.3 rebounds (43.3-33.1) per game this season. On the year, Cincinnati has owned the advantage on the glass in 11 of 16 games.

 

Cincinnati at Notre Dame

 

SCOUTING THE IRISH: Winner of 10 of it last 11 games, Notre Dame returns to the Joyce Center Tuesday night 12-3 on the season and 2-1 in the BIG EAST after dropping a 92-66 decision last Saturday at Marquette. The Irish are led by their potent frontcourt duo of forwards Luke Harangody and Rob Kurz, who are combining for 32.4 points and 17.9 rebounds a night. Harangody is Notre Dame's top scorer, averaging 18.9 points a game, followed by guard Kyle McAlarney (14.4 ppg) and Kurz (13.5 ppg). The Bearcats, who have been holding BIG EAST opponents to .260 from 3-point range, will have to contend with an Irish squad that has hit on .410 (223-312) of its treys and its leading marksman McAlarney (3.1 3-pointer made a game). The Irish are fourth in the nation in assists as of last week, passing out 19.8 per game, led by guard Tory Jackson's 5.9 helpers a night. On the glass, Notre Dame is one of the nation's toughest, out-rebounding its opponents by 10.3 rebounds per game. From the floor, UND is holding its opponents to .386 shooting overall and .346 behind the stripe.

 

BEARCATS IN THE BIG EAST: Since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 2005-06, Cincinnati owns an overall record of 13-23 in league play, including a 3-15 mark away from Fifth Third Arena. The Bearcats picked up their first BIG EAST road win for head coach Mick Cronin, opening up the BIG EAST schedule with a 58-57 win at Louisville. UC is 0-1 vs. Notre Dame since joining the league.

 

Overall Record:           13-23 (5-15 under Cronin)

Home:                         10-8 (4-6 under Cronin)

Away:                          3-15 (1-9 under Cronin)

First BIG EAST Win:   82-60 vs. DePaul, 1/4/06

Most UC Points:          96 (96-83, W-OT) vs. West Virginia, 1/20/07

Most Opponent Points:          89 (89-69, L) vs. Pittsburgh, 2/12/06

Combined Points:       179 (96-83, W-OT) vs. West Virginia, 1/20/07

Biggest UC Win:         22 (82-60) vs. DePaul, 1/4/06

 

 

STUCK ON 66: In its last two BIG EAST games, the Cincinnati defense has given up just 66 points to both Syracuse and Villanova. UC held Syracuse, who was shooting .517 from the field on the year to .407 (22-of-54) from the field, while Villanova converted on .464 (26-of-56). The Bearcats are 0-6 when allowing an opponent to score more than 66 points.

 

TWIN 10'S: Against Villanova, seniors John Williamson and Adam Hrycaniuk became the first Bearcats since Eric Hicks (18 reb.) and Cedric McGowan (13 reb.) vs. UNC-Charlotte on March 17, 2006 to each pull down 10 or more rebounds in the same game. Williamson finished with 11 boards and Hrycaniuk with 10. The two are UC's top two-leading rebounders, averaging 6.6 and 5.6 rebounds per game, respectively.

 

BIG TIME PLAY IN THE BIG EAST: After a record of 5-7 in non-conference play, head coach Mick Cronin needed the leaders on the team to step up and show the way as the Bearcats headed into BIG EAST Conference play. Sophomore guard Deonta Vaughn and senior forward John Williamson have picked up the pace offensively. Vaughn, who averaged 15.5 points per game during the non-conference schedule, has posted 22.0 points per night in the league, while Williamson has improved his scoring average from 10.5 in non-conference play to 12.0 in the BIG EAST. On the defensive side of the ball, freshman center Anthony McClain has given UC a new presence on the inside, pulling down a 5.3 boards a game, just behind John Williamson (6.0) for the team lead.

 

HELP OFF THE BENCH: For Cincinnati, team depth has provided Coach Cronin with a great deal of options as he has fine tuned a rotation of players that goes 10 deep, playing 100 minutes or more. That depth played a big part in UC's last two wins as the Bearcats have outscored the opposition's bench 42-16, including a 23-2 advantage vs. Syracuse. On average, the Bearcats are getting 17.0 points per game from their reserves, led by senior Marcus Sike' 3.4 points per game and freshman Larry Davis' 3.3 points.

 

FINDING CONSISTENCY: One thing that every young team has to develop as they mature is consistency and the Cincinnati Bearcats are no different. When you compare Cincinnati's stats in wins vs. losses you can see where a lack of consistency has made a difference. In UC's eight wins, the team is shooting .439 from the field compared to .401 in the losses.  The largest difference that is impacting whether UC comes out ahead or not is the team's overall defense. In wins, the Bearcats are holding their opponents to .393 shooting from the field and 60.4 points per game. Contrasting that to UC's eight losses, Cincinnati's defense is allowing its opponents to score on .470 of their shots, leading to 73.5 points per game - a difference of almost 14 points per game in wins vs. losses.

 

DEFENDING THE LINE: In UC's last five games, it has either defended the 3-pointer well or not. One key to the Bearcats' last four wins has been their 3-point shooting defense that held Miami (OH), Louisville, Syracuse, and Villanova to a combined 15-of-72 (.208) from behind the arc. The RedHawks' 2-of-12 (.167) and the Cardinals' 2-of-23 (.130) are the two lowest 3-point shooting percentages allowed in Mick Cronin's tenure. In the Bearcats loss, St. John's was able to exploit the Bearcats from behind the line, connecting on .462 (6-of-13) of its 3-pointers. In BIG EAST games, UC has limited its opponents to a .260 shooting percentage behind the line and just 4.8 treys per game. That is two fewer 3-pointers allowed per contest, comparing non-conference (7.0 3-pointers per game) to conference.

 

HOLDING ON WITH A FIRM GRIP: In just over a season and a half, one characteristic of a Mick Cronin team has been its ability to hold on to leads late. When the Bearcats lead with five minutes remaining in the game, they are undefeated at 7-0 this season and are 16-3 in Cronin's time at Cincinnati.

 

TAKING OVER AT THE END: Since sophomore guard Deonta Vaughn joined the team last season, he has been given the ball and asked to take on the added pressure of being the go-to player down the stretch. Vaughn has responded to the challenge, especially this season, as he has averaged 6.8 points during the final 10 minutes of games. What is even more impressive are his shooting percentages in the final 10 minutes as he is converting .565 (35-of-62) from the field and .500 (15-of-30) from behind the 3-point arc.

 

IN THE LAST FIVE GAMES: The Bearcats are 4-1 ... senior guard Deonta Vaughn has scored in double figures five times and leads the team with 21.6 points per game ... Vaughn is one of four players averaging five or more points per game ... UC is shooting 42.9 percent from the field (106-of-247), including 36.4 percent (32-of-88) from behind the 3-point line ... Vaughn has knocked down 13 treys and is shooting 38.2 percent from behind the line ... as a team, UC is shooting .696 from the free-throw line, led by Vaughn at .818 (27-of-33) ... point guard Jamual Warren leads the team with 24 assists (4.8 per game) ... guard Jamual Warren and reserve center Anthony McClain are averaging a team-high 5.6 rebounds per game.

 

THE BIG MAN, A BIG HELP OFF THE BENCH: Freshman center Anthony "Biggie" McClain has started to live up to his nickname, providing the Bearcats a major spark off the bench with a combined 21 points, 28 rebounds, and eight blocked shots in the last five games. McClain, who was averaging just 7.1 minutes per contest in the first 11 games, has earned the extra playing time (17.4 minutes per game since) by working on his defensive rebounding. After pulling down 12 defensive rebounds in his first 10 games, McClain has 18 defensive boards in his last five outings.

 

TAKING THE POINT: Senior guard Jamual Warren has played key roles for the Bearcats in their last four wins. In the win over Miami (OH), he personally led an 8-0 run of his own with a jumper and back-to-back treys to break a 38-38 tie. Warren, a career 13.6 percent (9-of-66) 3-point shooter heading into the Miami game, knocked down 2-of-3 from behind the arc vs. the RedHawks and went on to score 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting -- one short of his career high of 16 points vs. West Virginia last season. He also added six rebounds, three assists, and a steal vs. MU. At Louisville, he was asked to take on a completely different role as a rebounder and to run the offense. Warren responded again, equaling his career highs with eight rebounds and seven assists. Warren, who was limited to 24 minutes at St. John's due to early foul troubles, rebounded vs. Syracuse and Villanova, providing a combined 12 rebounds, 10 assists, and four steals to go along with 12 points.

 

DEFENSIVE ASSISTANCE: The return of Jamual Warren to the line-up six games into the season at UAB, after his hand injury, has paid dividends for UC defensively as he leads the team with15 steals. Last season, Cincinnati ranked eighth in the BIG EAST in steals per game (7.67) and Warren averaged 1.83 of the total. Before Warren's return, the Bearcats were only making 4.85 steals per game -- last in the BIG EAST -- but the Bearcats have made 59 steals (5.9 per game) since his return.

 

A DIFFERENCE A MONTH MAKES: When the calendar flipped to 2008, the Bearcats were happy to turn the page on a difficult month. After going 4-2 in the month of November, Cincinnati went 1-5 in December, losing five straight, including a pair vs. nationally ranked opponents -- then-No. 17 Xavier and then-No. 2 Memphis -- before knocking off Miami (OH) on Dec. 29. The biggest problem area was UC's shooting. In the first six games of the season, the Bearcats were making .433 of their shots (46-of-135), but then connected on just .394 (132-of-335) in December. The shooting difference is highlighted when you examine the team's 3-point marksmanship, which dropped from .341 in the first six games to .303 in December.

 

BEHIND THE LINE: The Bearcats are shooting .335 from behind the 3-point line this season, ranking them 14th in the BIG EAST. Sophomore Deonta Vaughn and senior Marvin Gentry are carrying the load for Cincinnati, accounting for 61 percent of UC's 3-pointers (65-of-159) on .409 shooting. The rest of the team is 42-of-160 (.263).

 

BACK ON TRACK: After scoring a combined 13 points vs. UAB and Illinois State, sophomore guard Deonta Vaughn has found his scoring touch again, notching 157 points (19.6 ppg) in his last eight starts. His 25 points vs. Villanova were his eighth straight and 13th overall double-digit scoring performance of the season. Vaughn leads the team and is sixth in the BIG EAST in overall scoring with 17.3 points per game.

 

WILL-I-AM-SON: Senior forward John Williamson, who averaged 13.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game last season, has broken out of a slump in his last nine games, scoring 100 points (11.1 ppg) and pulling down 54 rebounds. In the four games prior to Illinois State, Williamson recorded 6.0 points per game on 10-of-32 shooting (.313). Williamson was "Mr. Consistent" for UC last season, scoring in double figures in 23 of the team's 30 games. He is currently second on the team scoring with 9.9 points per game.

 

EUROPEAN IMPACT: Senior center Adam Hrycaniuk (pronounced hu-RITZ-a-nyuk), a native of Poland, has made an immediate impact on the Bearcats. After having to sit out last year due to NCAA clearance issues, Hrycaniuk has jumped into the line-up for UC and become an offensive threat, scoring 8.7 points per game, despite posting just 13 points in his last five games (2.6 ppg). The 6-foot-10 post player is also Cincinnati's second-leading rebounder with 5.6 rebounds per game.

 

BISHOP TAKES QUEEN (CITY): Freshman forward/guard Rashad Bishop has quickly become one of the Bearcats' top all-around newcomers. Appearing in all 16 games and starting 10 for UC this season, Bishop has scored in double digits three times, including two games with a season-high 12 points (Bowling Green and Fairfield). After breaking out of a mini slump vs. Memphis with nine points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals, Bishop is averaging 5.4 points per game. Not only has he provided offensive punch, he has also added 3.5 rebounds and is third on the team with 28 assists. Thanks to his gritty play against Villanova. Bishop endeared himself even more to the fans of Cincinnati. Not having scored a basket or made a rebound vs. the Wildcats in the first 39 minutes of the game, Bishop made the biggest play of the game with 22 seconds remaining, burying a 3-pointer to put Cincinnati back on top, 68-66.

 

30-MINUTE MAN ...: Through Cincinnati's first six games, sophomore point guard Deonta Vaughn was the Iron Man of UC basketball, logging an average of 36.5 minutes per game. In the season opener vs. Belmont, Vaughn played 39 minutes for the Bearcats, three short of his career high of 42, in a 70-67 overtime victory over Seton Hall, on Feb. 28 of last season. With the return of UC's other veteran point guard Jamual Warren to the line-up, Vaughn has been able to scale back, playing just 30.9 minutes per game. After Vaughn's season average of 33.0 minutes per game, the next closest player on the team is Warren, who is averaging 29.7 minutes per game since his return.

 

WHEN YOU NEED IT MOST: Senior center Adam Hrycaniuk has been clutch for the Bearcats late in games, converting 10-of-12 free throws (.833) in the last three minutes of games determined by 10 points or less. As a team, the Bearcats are shooting .754 (43-of-57) from the line down the stretch of close games.

 

PHYSICALLY FIT: Over the last 15 years, UC basketball has the reputation of being one the most physically fit teams in the country and developing players for the next level. That comes from the players' hard work in the weight room and conditioning. This season, Adam Hrycaniuk, John Williamson and Branden Miller each can bench press over 300 pounds, led by Hrycaniuk at 315 pounds. Even the guards have impressive stats with Deonta Vaughn squatting 500 pounds and Marvin Gentry, who weighs 180 pounds, bench pressing a max of 260 pounds. Freshman forward Darnell Wilks and senior guard Jamual Warren are the team's high flyers with 40- and 36.5-inch vertical jumps, respectively.

 

PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF: Head coach Mick Cronin, in just his second year at Cincinnati, has done the work of a coach in his fourth year on the job, having signed or transferred in 16 players in the last 18-plus months. This season's six-person freshman class is considered by the recruiting services as one of the Top 20 groups in the nation and the stats attest to that. Larry Davis and Rashad Bishop have combined for five double-digit scoring nights and center Anthony McClain has become a presence on the glass, pulling down 55 rebounds (25 offensive) and blocked 17 shots in just 158 minutes of action. Bishop and Davis have had the best offensive seasons to date, averaging 5.4 and 4.0 ppg, respectively.

 

WILLIAMS TO MISS SEASON WITH RUPTURED ACHILLES: Junior forward Mike Williams, who was preparing for his first season on the court for the University of Cincinnati, will miss the 2007-08 season after rupturing his Achilles tendon in preseason workouts. Williams, a 6-7, 230-pound native of Camden, Ala., sat out last season at UC after transferring from the University of Texas and was expected to start this season for Cincinnati. As a Longhorn, Williams played in 58 games over two years, averaging 2.7 points and 3.4 rebounds.

 

THE INK IS DRY: The University of Cincinnati men's basketball team signed two players to national letters of intent for the 2008-09 season, head coach Mick Cronin announced on the first day of the early signing period. Joining the Bearcats are forward Yancy Gates (Cincinnati, OH/Withrow) and guard Cashmere Wright (Savannah, GA/Urban Christian High School).

     Gates, a 6-foot-9, 255-pound forward, is one of the nation's top 50 players according to several recruiting sites. As a junior at Withrow High School playing for Walt McBride, Gates averaged 19.4 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.1 blocks per game in 2006-07. He helped the Tigers to a 17-6 record and missed the state semifinals by one game. A second-team Ohio all-state selection, Gates is the first freshman player in Cronin's first three recruiting classes to come from the talent-rich Cincinnati area.

     Wright, another highly-regarded recruit, who is ranked among many of the recruiting services top 100 players, comes to Cincinnati from the Urban Christian Academy in Savannah, Ga., where he averaged 36.2 points, 10.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 steals per game in 2006-07. In his first two games this season, Wright posted 43 and 35 points, respectively, and is a McDonald's All-America candidate.

 

BEARCATS ADD TRANSFER FOR 2008-09: The Bearcats added 6-7 wing Nick Aldridge, a transfer from Western Carolina University, to the roster as a non-scholarship player following the holiday break. Aldridge joins the program as a sophomore after competing in five games at Western Carolina this season where he averaged 18.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists. Aldridge will sit out the remainder of this season and be eligible to play as a junior for the Bearcats after the 2008 fall quarter. Last year, he was the Catamounts' leading scorer putting up 18.3 points and pulling down 7.0 rebounds a game. In his college career, Aldridge has notched 10 20-plus point games including two 30-plus outings. Aldridge, a native of South Webster, which is located two hours from Cincinnati, led his high school to a 27-6 record and the Ohio Division IV state championship as a senior in 2005-06, putting up 34 points in the championship game. He finished his high school career with 2,011 points, making him one of 37 players in Ohio high school basketball history to score more than 2,000 points.

 

LOOKING AHEAD: After the trip to Notre Dame, UC returns to Fifth Third Arena on Saturday at 4 p.m. to take on No. 15/16 Pittsburgh. The game will be aired as part of the BIG EAST Syndication package on FOX19. The Panthers own a 6-3 lead in the series and are 2-0 vs. Cincinnati since it joined the BIG EAST in 2005-06. Last year, Pitt claimed a 67-51 victory in Fifth Third Arena.

 

 

 

 


 

 

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