UC Basketball Ends Road Trip at St. John's
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Jan. 22, 2009

GAME 20: CINCINNATI AT St. John’S

Thursday, Jan. 22 l 9 p.m. EST l Carnesecca Arena (6,008) l Queens, N.Y. l ESPNU


 

 

THE MATCH-UP

The Cincinnati Bearcats (12-7; 2-4 BIG EAST) close out a three-game road trip  on Thursday, Jan. 22 as they head to Queens, N.Y. to face St. John’s at 9 p.m. EST at Carnesecca Arena. The game will be televised on ESPNU. Justin Krutcher will call the play-by-play with Bob Valvano handling the analysis. After two consecutive conference wins, the Bearcats dropped a 72-63 decision on Monday night at Providence and are 3-4 away from Fifth Third Arena this year. The Red Storm are 1-6 in their last seven games with three of the six losses coming to nationally-ranked BIG EAST Conference opponents Pittsburgh, Connecticut, and Villanova. Their one victory came at home on Jan. 3 vs. Notre Dame, 71-65. St. John’s lost to Villanova its last game out, 76-57, despite 18 points from D.J. Kennedy and 14 from Quincy Roberts.

 

THE SERIES

Thursday’s meeting with St. John’s will be the ninth between the two schools. The Red Storm owns a 5-3 edge in the series and has captured four of the last five meetings. The two split the season series last year with the home team winning each. The Red Storm knocked off UC, 70-58, on Jan. 5 last year in Carnesecca Arena.

 

SCOUTING ST. JOHN’S

St. John’s is 10-7 this season and 1-4 in the BIG EAST after losing to No. 20/21 Villanova on Sunday Night, 76-57.

The Red Storm has lost its last three games and five of its last six, including league losses to No. 4/4 Pittsburgh, No. 3/3 Connecticut, and No. 20/21 Villanova. The lone win in the last six games came on Jan. 3 at home as STJ knocked off then-No. 7 Notre Dame, 71-65.

St. John’s is 9-3 at home this season, including a mark of 7-0 in Carnesecca Arena.

Three players average in double digits for St. John’s led by Anthony Mason, Jr.’s 14.0 ppg. D.J. Kennedy (13.5 ppg) and Paris Horne (12.8 ppg) are the other two Red Storm players scoring in double digits.

Kennedy is the Red Storm’s top rebounder, averaging 7.1 rpg, while also posting 2.9 apg.

St. John’s is shooting 44.2 percent from the field, 28.5 percent from the 3-point line and 64.5 from the charity stripe.

St. John’s is outrebounding their opponents 37.4-35.1 (+2.3 rpg).

STJ is averaging 7.3 steals per game and it is forcing its opponents into 15.2  turnovers per game.

 

PROVIDENCE GAME NOTES - JAN. 19

Providence defeated the Bearcats, 72-63, giving the Friars their second win over UC this season.

UC went 3-of-4 from the free throw line vs. PC. Cincinnati’s four free throw attempts are the fewest free throw attempts since attempting four vs. West Virginia on Feb. 4, 2006. The three made free throws are UC’s fewest since Jan. 29, 2002 vs. East Carolina (3-of-10).

The Friars notched 13 steals compared to two for the Bearcats. The 13 steals by Providence are the most by a Cincinnati opponent this season.

Cincinnati’s bench outscored Providence’s bench, 31-23. UC is now 10-2 this season when outscoring its opponent’s bench.

Four straight 3-pointers by UC freshman Dion Dixon capped of a 14-4 run that cut the Bearcats deficit to eight points, 63-56, with 2:31 remaining in the second half.

Senior Mike Williams scored eight of Cincinnati’s first nine points of the second half as UC tied the game at 38-38 with 14:37. Providence answered with a 21-4 run over the next 8:20 to open up a 59-42 lead with 6:17 remaining.

Providence outscored Cincinnati 14-2 in points off turnovers in the first half.

A 7-2 Providence run in the final 2:02 of the first half gave the Friars a 32-29 lead entering halftime.

A junior Deonta Vaughn jumper with 5:35 to play in the first gave UC a 27-25 lead, its first lead since jumping ahead 2-0.

Williams put in a career-high 21 points, his third 20-plus point performance in the last five games. Williams has scored in double figures in five consecutive games and 10 times this season. He also went 1-for-1 from behind the arc, marking the first 3-pointer of his career. Williams also added a team-best tying seven rebounds.

Dixon scored a career-high tying 14 points on a career-best four 3-pointers. It was his fifth double-figure scoring game this season and his first since scoring 11 points vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Dec. 22.

Freshman Yancy Gates scored 14 points, his 11th double-figure scoring game this season. He scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half and also grabbed seven rebounds.

Vaughn scored six points, marking the fourth time this season that Vaughn has scored under 10 points in a game.

Gates and Williams combined to score 11 of Cincinnati’s first 13 points in the game.

 

FAMILIAR FACES

As part of the BIG EAST’s 18-game league schedule, Cincinnati will face Providence, St. John’s, and Georgetown in a home-and-home series this season.

Five games into the BIG EAST schedule, the Bearcats have already finished their season series with Providence, losing twice to the Friars within 10 days — 87-79 on Jan. 7 and 72-63 on Jan. 17.

UC starts the other two series vs. St. John’s and Georgetown in its next two games. The Bearcats travel to St. John’s Thursday, Jan. 22 before taking six days off to get ready for Georgetown on Jan. 28 in Fifth Third Arena. The return trips are on Feb. 7 vs. the Hoyas and Feb. 11 vs. the Red Storm.

 

STRUGGLING LATE

In its last two games, the Bearcats have struggled from the floor in the second half, shooting a combined 34.5 percent from the floor (20-of-58).

At DePaul, Cincinnati was 6-of-19 from the floor vs. the Blue Demons in the second half  and held on for a 59-55 victory despite going the last 8:32 of the game without a field goal. The Bearcats made nine free throws down the stretch, including two by Deonta Vaughn with four seconds remaining, to hold on for the win.

On Monday night at Providence, the Bearcats were able to score 34 points on the Friars after the intermission despite shooting 35.9 percent. The Bearcats were able to get off 39 shots in the second half thanks to 11 offensive rebounds.

Deonta Vaughn, the team’s leading scorer, has had particular trouble during the stretch scoring a combined four points in the second half of UC’s last two games. Two of the four points came as free throws at the end of the DePaul game. Vaughn is 1-for-8 overall and 0-fo-4 from 3-point range in the second half of UC’s last two games. In contrast, he is averaging 10.0 points in the first half on 53.8 shooting (7-of-13), including 55.6 percent (5-of-9) from behind the arc.

 

“D-ING” IT UP

After getting behind by as many as 16 and trailing 36-29 at halftime to Rutgers on Jan. 14, head coach Mick Cronin went in search of his five best defenders to help Cincinnati come from behind and knock off the Scarlet Knights, 71-59.

In the second half, Cronin found his line-up as he went to a rotation of Deonta Vaughn, Larry Davis/Dion Dixon, Rashad Bishop, Mike Williams, and Steve Toyloy.

Cincinnati held Rutgers to 29.0 percent (9-of-31) shooting in the second half, including 1-for-10 from 3-point range. Mike Rosario, the Scarlet Knights top scorer, scored just one 3-pointer in the second half and was 1-of-10 from the floor.

UC outrebounded the Knights, 20-18, in the second half, led by Vaughn’s seven second-half boards. He finished with a career-high eight rebounds in the game.

The same lineup got the start vs. DePaul and the group did its job again as the Bearcats defeated the Blue Demons, 59-55.

UC held the Blue Demons to 25.0 percent shooting from three (4-of-16) and 1-of-8 shooting from deep in the second half.

In the group’s second straight start at Providence, it held the Friars, who had scorched the Bearcats with 12-of-24 shooting from 3-point range on Jan. 7, to 3-of-20 shooting (.150) from 3-point range in the second match-up. The group did have a tough time with the Friars in the paint, giving up 50 points in a 72-63 decision down low.

 

O’ CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN

Twice in Cincinnati’s last five games, team captains Deonta Vaughn and Mike Williams have each scored 20 or more points in the same game. They have both scored in double figures in same game seven times and UC is 5-2.

In an 87-79 loss to Providence on Jan. 7, the duo each tossed in 20 points, while Vaughn added seven rebounds.

In the second half of UC’s 71-59 come-from-behind win vs. Rutgers, the pair scored 31 of UC’s 42 points.

Against Rutgers, Vaughn scored a game-high 24 points, while Williams posted 20. The pair also combined for 14 rebounds vs. the Scarlet Knights, including a career-high eight by Vaughn.

Over the last five games, Williams is averaging 17.6 ppg and Vaughn is averaging 17.4 ppg. They are also averaging 6.2 and 4.8 rebounds, respectively.

 

TALE OF TWO SEASONS

Looking at the Bearcats statistically, UC has played two totally different seasons; one being the first 12 games of the year and the second, the seven games following the Christmas break.

 UC started off the year winning 10 of 12 during its non-conference slate, picking up quality wins over UNLV (14-4), who has lost just twice since playing Cincinnati on Nov. 29, and Mississippi State (13-5), last year’s SEC West Division champion.

During the 12-game stretch to open the year, the Bearcats averaged 74.6 points compared to its opponents 60.2. UC held its opponents to 36.7 percent from the field and 30.1 percent from behind the 3-point line.

Deonta Vaughn, Cincinnati’s leading scorer, averaged 15.1 points in 33.2 minutes a night.

Since the break, the Bearcats are 2-5 and have struggled offensively and defensively, being outscored 71.1 to 62.7 a game. UC opponents are hitting 46.9 percent (179-of-382) of their shots, including 36.4 percent (48-of-132) from 3-point range.

After outrebounding opponents by 11.4 boards a night to start the year, UC is outrebounding its opponents by 0.4 rebounds per game, 35.0 to 34.6, a decrease of 8.4  (43.4 to 35.0 ) rebounds a game for Cincinnati.

 

MORE HELP DOWN THE STRETCH

Last season junior guard Deonta Vaughn was called on more often than not to be the Bearcats go-to-man down the stretch of games, a role he excelled at averaging 7.2 points per game over the final 10 minutes.

With the addition of Mike Williams and the maturation of the team, he has not had to do as much this season and is averaging 2.9 ppg.

Last year after Vaughn, only John Williamson (2.8 ppg) averaged over two points per contest down the stretch.

Mike Williams has been the Bearcats leading scorer down the stretch this year, posting 4.0 points per contest. He has also received help from Dion Dixon (3.0), Vaughn (2.9 ppg), and Yancy Gates (2.2 ppg) who all average over two points per game during the stretch run.

In the 71-59 come-from-behind win over Rutgers, Vaughn returned to his old self, scoring nine points in the final 10 minutes, shooting a perfect 3-for-3 from the field and 2-for-2 from the line.

In UC’s four-point win over DePaul, Williams and Gates scored nine of UC’s final 13 points in the final 10 minutes (Williams 5, Gates 4).

At Providence on Monday, Dixon tried to get the Bearcats back in the game by hitting four consecutive 3-pointers that cut the Friars lead to seven at 63-56, with 2:31 remaining in the second half.

 

BISHOP STEPS UP BIG IN BIG EAST

Since the start of BIG EAST Conference play, sophomore guard Rashad Bishop re-asserted himself as an all-around threat in the Bearcats starting line-up averaging, 7.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists in his last six games.

For the season Bishop has put up 5.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists a night.

He notched his first double-figure scoring games of the year to start league play, posting 11 vs. Marquette (Jan. 4) and Providence (Jan. 7).

17 of his 30 rebounds in league play are from the offensive glass (2.8 offensive rpg).

Bishop has also taken care of the ball since the start of conference play, dishing out 22 assists, while committing just five turnovers.

His 4.40 assist-to-turnover ratio in conference-only games ranks first in the BIG EAST.


SPREADING THE WEALTH

Senior guard Deonta Vaughn has become more comfortable with his new role as the team’s point guard and has 51 assists in the last 10 games (5.1 apg).

He is sixth in overall and conference-only games with 4.84 and 5.33 assists per game, respectively.

With his 10 assists at Marquette on Jan. 4, Vaughn surpassed 300 assists for his career. He has 326 assists in his career and needs 81 more assists to reach Damon Flint’s 407 career assists, which ranks fourth on the all-time UC assists list.

Vaughn became the first player since Devan Downey on Dec. 30, 2005, to record 10-plus assists in a game after dishing out 10 assists at Marquette on Jan. 4.

 

BATTLING BACK

On Jan. 14 vs. Rutgers, Cincinnati battled back from a half-time deficit for the third time this season and knocked off the Scarlet Knights, 71-59. The Bearcats trailed by as many as 16 to the Scarlet Knights in the first half, making it the second-largest come-from-behind victory in Mick Cronin’s tenure at UC.

UC’s other halftime 2008-09 comebacks came against UNLV (Nov. 29) and Eastern Kentucky (Dec. 20).

Cincinnati trailed Eastern Kentucky, 30-15, at 7:19 of the first half on Dec. 20 before mounting its comeback.

Trailing the Colonels, 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 4-1 at UC in overtime games.

 

BOUNCING BACK

For the first time in his career, senior guard Deonta Vaughn was held scoreless in Cincinnati’s loss to Marquette on Jan. 4, marking the 18th game in his career that he has been held to 10 points or less.

Vaughn rebounded against Providence on Jan. 7 posting his 16th career game with 20 or more points on 8-of-16 shooting. He also added a career-high tying seven rebounds.

For his career, Vaughn is averaging 15.7 points per game in games following single-digit point contests.

Eight times in his career Vaughn has followed up a single-digit point performance with a 20-plus point performance, including two 30-plus point performances.

He is averaging 17.4 ppg since being shutout, including two 20-point plus performances.

 

GATES LEADING THE WAY

Over the past 11 games, freshman Yancy Gates has begun to step up his game and provide UC a presence on the blocks.

Since the Dec. 13 match-up with then No. 10/9 Xavier, Gates is second on the team in scoring, averaging 11.1 points per game and leads the squad with 6.7 rebounds per contest.

During that stretch, Gates is also shooting 45.3 percent from the field (53-of-117).

After scoring just two points against Xavier on Dec. 13, freshman Yancy Gates has turned in seven double-digit scoring nights in the past 11 games (vs. Charleston Southern (18), Mississippi State (12), Eastern Kentucky (17), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (14), Marquette (10), Connecticut (12), and Providence (14)).

For the season, Gates is the team’s third-leading scorer, averaging 10.1 points per game.

The Cincinnati native has had 11 double-figure scoring games this season and Cincinnati is 8-3 when he scores in double-figures.

His lone double-double of the season came in the season opener vs. South Dakota (Nov. 16).

In the last game at Providence, Gates came off the bench to score 14 points and grab seven rebounds in 23 minutes. 12 of his 14 points came in the first half.

 

HARD TIMES BEHIND THE LINE

Before their last seven games, the Bearcats were one of the better 3-point shooting teams in the BIG EAST knocking down 34.9 percent of its 3-point attempts.

During a four-game losing streak from Dec. 29 to Jan. 10, Cincinnati struggled from behind the arc, shooting 27.0 percent (20-of-74).

However, the Bearcats have slowly started to come out of their long range shooting woes by shooting 36.7 percent in the last three contests (18-of-49).

In the last three games, junior Deonta Vaughn is shooting 41.2 percent from behind the arc (7-of-17).

 

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES

Through 19 games this season, UC has improved its win total by three and notched 10 wins before the start of conference play for the first time since going 11-2 in 2005-06.

The Bearcats did not win their 12th game of the season last year until Game 24 vs. St. John’s on Feb. 13.

Defensive play has been the biggest area of improvement for UC as it has limited opponents to 64.2 points per game, down 4.0 points from last year. From the field, opponents are hitting on just 40.2 percent of their shots this year.

After defense, the boards have also keyed UC’s three-win jump as they are getting 4.9 more rebounds per game this season.

 

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.

UC is 3-4 in their seven games away from Fifth Third this season and are 9-3 at home.

UC’s 8-1 start at home this season was its best since the 2004-05 team started its home campaign with an 8-0 record.

UC is 263-53 (.832) in games at Fifth Third Arena since the building opened in 1989-90.

Under Mick Cronin, UC is 29-18 at home (.609).

 

TALE OF THE TAPE

In Cincinnati’s 12 wins this season, UC is averaging 8.4 3-pointers per game and 16.6 assists per game compared to 14.2 turnovers per game.

However, in UC’s seven losses, the Bearcats are averaging just 5.1 made 3-pointers per game, while averaging 12.3 assists per game compared to 15.7 turnovers per game.

The Bearcats are also one of the top rebounding teams in the country and owning a positive rebounding margin is key for the Bearcats. UC owns a rebounding margin of +13.2 in wins compared to -2.6 in losses.

 

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.

From the 12:10 to the 8:38 mark of the first half vs. DePaul, Vaughn scored 10 of his game-high 18 points, which included a four-point play.

 

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 64.2 points per game and 40.3 percent shooting, while averaging 40.3 rebounds per game and a +7.4 rebounding margin. Last year, UC allowed opponents 67.8 points per contest on .430 shooting.

UC’s +7.4 rebounding margin ranks third in the BIG EAST.

In the most recent NCAA statistics, Cincinnati was ranked nationally among the Top 20 in rebounding margin (+7.7/18th).

Five 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 third this season (15.8).

Of the 656 missed shots by Cincinnati this season, the Bearcats have come away with the offensive rebound 301 times (45.9 percent).

In the latest release of NCAA statistics, UC’s 15.8 offensive rebounds per game ranked ninth nationally.

   

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.

Sophomore Larry Davis tied a career-high with four three’s, while Vaughn also hit four treys. Freshman Dion Dixon and sophomore Alvin Mitchell each buried two triples apiece.

 

THE GROOVY 70’S

With Cincinnati’s 71-59 win over Rutgers on Jan. 14, UC surpassed the 70-point plateau in its third straight game and for the 12th time this season. UC is 10-2 in those contests.

UC is 18-10 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.

 

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 26.6 points per game or 37.9 percent of the points. The bench has been outscored six times this season, including 24-15 vs. Rutgers, and the Bearcats are 2-4 in those 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 have three players averaging four points or more off the bench, led by the team’s fourth-leading scorer Dion Dixon (7.1 ppg).

Steve Toyloy, the team’s third-leading rebounder is averaging 4.5 points and 4.4 rebounds in 16.9 minutes a game. He posted season-highs for points (14) and  rebounds (9) vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff off the bench.

 

CRONIN MILESTONE

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 105-69 (.603) record over stints at Murray State (2003-06) and Cincinnati (2006-pres.).

 

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 206-of-596 (.346) 3-point field goal attempts in 81 career games, while Flint was 177-of-593 (.298) over his four-year career.

Vaughn is 52 treys behind Steve Logan (1998-2002) for fourth place.

With two treys vs. Rutgers on Jan. 14, Vaughn became just the fifth player in school history to record 200 3-point baskets.

Darnell Burton is the all-time leader in 3-pointers made with 306.


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 32.1 points a game.

More impressively, the group is averaging 20.0 rebounds per game — almost half of the team’s nightly average (49.6 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 10.4 points and 5.8 rebounds in 26.5 minutes of work.

His 20 points vs. Providence on 8-of-14 shooting set a then-career high for points for Williams.

Williams followed his 20-point performance with 14 points vs. Connecticut (1/10), marking the first time in his career that he has notched consecutive double-digit scoring games.

He added a third consecutive double-figure scoring night against Rutgers, equaling his career-high with 20 points.

Williams continued his strong play with a 13 point, seven-rebound effort vs. DePaul, marking the first time in his career he had four consecutive double-figure scoring games.

He extended the streak five straight games in double figures at Providence on Jan. 17 with a career-high 21 points and seven rebounds. He shot 10-of-16 from the floor, including his first career 3-pointer.

His 78.6 percent (55-of-70) 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 16-of-21 free throws (.762).

 

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 playing for Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., this season and averaged 23.0 ppg in his first five games.

 

BEARCATS Add Transfer at Start of Quarter

Ibrahima Thomas, a 6-foot-11, 230 pound forward/center, enrolled at the University of Cincinnati at the start of the winter quarter and will be eligible to play after the fall quarter of the 2009-10 school year.

Thomas, a native of Dakar, Senegal, transferred from Oklahoma State and will have two years of eligibility remaining.

He started at forward for Oklahoma State in its first seven games this season before deciding to transfer, averaging 8.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per contest. In his 40 games at OSU, Thomas started 34 times, including 27 as a freshman in 2007-08. He averaged 6.4 points and 4.1 rebounds in his time at OSU.

 

FAST-PACED RACE

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.

 

RETURN TO POSTSEASON

Cincinnati played in the postseason for the first time in two years as it took on Bradley University of the Missouri Valley Conference in the inaugural, 16-team College Basketball Invitational (CBI) last spring.

UC’s last postseason appearance before the CBI came during the 2005-06 season when the Bearcats played in the National Invitational Tournament, advancing to the quarterfinals.

It was the Bearcats 34th postseason tournament appearance. UC has made 24 appearances in the NCAA Tournament and nine in the NIT.

 

A “BIG” EAST IMPROVEMENT

Last season, the Bearcats made a six-win improvement in conference wins, going from two victories in 2006-07 to eight in 2007-08.

The eight wins equal UC’s inaugural BIG EAST season when it went 8-8 in the old 16-game format.

The Bearcats’ six-win improvement is tied for the ninth-largest single-season turnaround in BIG EAST history with six other teams.