Men's Basketball Hosts Notre Dame at U.S. Bank Arena|
Feb. 3, 2009
The Cincinnati Bearcats (14-8, 4-5 BIG EAST) return to Cincinnati to take on Notre Dame (12-8, 3-6 BIG EAST) in a BIG EAST Conference clash at 7:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Feb. 4 at U.S. Bank Arena. The game will be UC’s second game at U.S. Bank Arena this season after knocking off Mississippi State by a score of 75-63 on Dec. 18 in the BIG EAST/SEC Invitational. The game will be televised on ESPN360.com. Jim Barbar will call the play-by-play with Mark Adams handling the analysis. The Fighting Irish have dropped five in a row, all of which have come against opponents ranked in the Top 10. Notre Dame, which is tied for 10th in the BIG EAST standings, is a half game behind ninth-place Cincinnati.
The series with Notre Dame dates back to 1939 when the two schools met for the first time in Notre Dame, Ind. with the Fighting Irish winning, 54-17. After the inaugural meeting it wasn’t until the 1974-75 season the two would meet again, this time in the NCAA Midwest Regional Finals with the Bearcats defeating Notre Dame, 95-87, in overtime. Since then, Notre Dame has won four consecutive encounters with Cincinnati, including the last two meetings as BIG EAST Conference foes.
SCOUTING NOTRE DAME
· Notre Dame owns a record of 12-8 overall and 3-6 in the BIG EAST Conference.
· Notre Dame has dropped five consecutive games, all to teams ranked in the Top 10.
· The Fighting Irish own a 4-6 record when playing on road/neutral courts.
· Notre Dame ranks first in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.84) and in turnovers (9.9). The Fighting Irish also rank in the Top 10 nationally in personal fouls (14.1/3rd), 3-point field goals per game (9.4/7th), and 3-point field goal percentage (.403/8th).
· Junior Luke Harangody leads the BIG EAST in scoring and rebounding in overall and conference-only contests. In all games, Harangody averages 25.1 ppg and 13.2 rpg, while averaging 27.6 ppg and 14.3 rpg in BIG EAST games. Harangody has scored 20-plus points in 13 straight games.
· Harangody’s 25.1 ppg ranks fifth nationally, and his 13.2 rpg ranks third nationally.
· Kyle McAlarney ranks fourth nationally in 3-point field goals made per game (4.1) and eighth in 3-point field goal percentage (.458). 177 of McAlarney’s 251 shot attempts this season have come from behind the arc.
· Notre Dame is fourth in the BIG EAST in overall scoring, averaging 79.2 ppg, sixth in free throw percentage (.711), and first in 3-point field goal percentage (.403).
· Defensively, the Irish are 14th in the BIG EAST in scoring defense (71.3 ppg), eight spots below UC.
· Notre Dame has had a player score 30-plus points six times this season.
VILLANOVA GAME NOTES - FEB. 1
· Villanova upped its series advantage to 4-1 all-time vs. Cincinnati.
· UC dropped to 4-8 on the season when trailing at halftime.
· Villanova outscored Cincinnati, 41-21 in the second half to defeat Cincinnati 71-50. The Wildcats shot 55.6 percent (15-of-27) from the field in the second half, while the Bearcats shot 18.2 percent over the same stretch (6-of-33).
· The Bearcats fell to 10-1 on the season when making seven-plus 3-pointers in a game. UC finished 8-of-31 (25.8 percent) from three.
· Cincinnati committed 18 turnovers vs. Villanova, its most turnovers since committing 20 vs. Memphis on Dec. 29, 2008.
· After a Alvin Mitchell lay-up with 13:16 remaining cut the Bearcats’ deficit to six points, 45-39, UC went scoreless over the next 6:07 and the Wildcats went on a 12-0 run to take a 57-39 lead with 7:09 to play.
· The first half was a see-saw battle with 12 ties and four lead changes.
· Cincinnati outscored Villanova, 18-7, in first-half bench points. For the game, Cincinnati’s bench outscored Villanova, 35-24.
· After starting the first half 0-of-6 from the field, Cincinnati finished the opening 20 minutes 11-of-20 from the field. The Bearcats were 5-of-15 from 3-point range in the opening half, while Villanova was 0-of-6 from deep.
· Over the final 3:56 of the first half, Villanova went on an 11-3 run to take a 30-29 lead entering intermission.
· Trailing 18-17, UC went on a 9-1 run from the 6:41 mark to the 5:08 mark to go on top, 26-19, in the opening half.
· A 3-pointer by freshman Dion Dixon with 15:16 to play in the first half was Cincinnati’s first points, as the Bearcats took a 3-2 lead.
· Mitchell scored 15 points off the bench for Cincinnati. It is Mitchell’s fourth double-figure scoring game this season and his first since scoring 16 vs. Charleston Southern on Dec. 15.
· Freshman Yancy Gates scored nine points and added seven rebounds off the bench vs. the Wildcats.
· Junior Deonta Vaughn finished with eight points, marking the fifth time this season he has been held to under 10 points in a game.
· Dixon scored six of UC’s first eight points as the Bearcats and Wildcats were tied, 8-8, with 11:34 to play in the opening half.
UC AT U.S. BANK ARENA
· Wednesday’s game brings Cincinnati back to one of its former home courts. The Bearcats played at U.S. Bank Arena, then known as Riverfront Coliseum, from 1976-87.
· UC has compiled a record of 117-50 (.701) in games played in the building, which includes championships of the Conference USA Tournaments played there in 2002 and 2004.
· The Bearcats have won 13 consecutive games at U.S. Bank Arena, including a 75-63 win over Mississippi State earlier this season.
DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME …
· In the final nine games of the regular season, the Bearcats will face five teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, including Top 10 opponents No. 6 Pittsburgh (Feb. 14) and No. 5 Louisville (Feb. 21).
· Of the nine remaining teams on UC’s schedule all but one own a winning record (USF – 7-14) and they have a combined mark of 122-64 (.656).
· Cincinnati is currently 58th in the RPI Ratings and owns the nation’s 19th toughest schedule.
· UC is 1-3 vs. ranked teams in the AP poll and 1-5 vs. teams ranked in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll.
· Following is a list of UC’s opponent which are ranked in the Top 64 in the RPI rankings along with this season’s result or the date of the game:
2008-09 UC Opponents in the Top 64 in the RPI
BIG (EAST) TURNAROUND
· Looking at the Bearcats statistically, UC has played two completely different segments of the BIG EAST schedule. UC started off the New Year losing its first three BIG EAST games by an average of 17.0 points per game.
· In the six games since, the Bearcats have won four thanks to a much improved defense that is holding opponents to 62.3 points per game, 21.7 points fewer per outing than the first three conference games.
· Below is a comparison of UC’s first three BIG EAST games to the last five:
· As part of the BIG EAST’s 18-game league schedule, Cincinnati will face Providence, St. John’s, and Georgetown each in a home-and-home series this season.
· Five games into the BIG EAST schedule, the Bearcats 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 started its series at St. John’s on Jan. 22 and vs. Georgetown on Jan. 28. The return trips are on Feb. 7 at the Hoyas and Feb. 11 vs. the Red Storm.
· The Bearcats are 2-2 vs. teams in their pod.
GROWING UP ON THE ROAD
· One thing a young team has to learn as it grows up is how to win on the road, especially in conference play. This season, the Bearcats are showing signs of a maturing team as they are 4-5 overall away from Fifth Third Arena, including 2-3 in BIG EAST play.
· Cincinnati’s most league victories on the road as a member of the BIG EAST came last season going 3-6. UC is 7-23 on the road as a member of the BIG EAST.
· The Bearcats opened the season with just three road games in their first 14 contests before starting league 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 do not find the rims on the road kind as they are shooting 36.0 percent on the road compared to 45.3 percent in Fifth Third Arena.
· UC also has a difficult time with the caroms as opponents hold the Bearcats to 35.6 rebounds per game on the road compared to 41.2 at home.
· Junior guard Deonta Vaughn averages just 12.6 points per game away from Fifth Third Arena compared to 16.6 ppg at home and was held scoreless for the first time in his career at Marquette on Jan. 4.
FINDING HIS STRIDE
· In Cincinnati’s last eight games, freshman guard Dion Dixon has begun find his game and become more at ease vs. BIG EAST competition.
· In the eight games since scoring three points at Marquette on Jan. 4, Dixon is fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 8.3 points and 2.8 rebounds.
· He equaled his career high for scoring at Providence (Jan. 19) with 14 points, including 4-of-8 shooting from 3-point range.
· The 14-point output marked his fifth double-digit scoring effort of the season and his first in seven games since posting 11 points at home vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Dec. 22).
· Dixon registered his second double-digit scoring game in three outings vs. Georgetown (Jan. 28) with 10 points on three 3-pointers and a free throw. He also added four rebounds.
· In his last four games, Dixon is averaging 9.8 ppg, he is shooting 43.3 percent from the field (13-of-30), and 42.3 percent from behind the arc (11-of-26).
· Getting to the free throw line is always important, but for the Bearcats in BIG EAST play it has been even more of a deciding factor.
· Since the start of league play, UC is 3-0 when getting to the line at least 20 times in a game.
· At St. John’s on Jan. 22, the Bearcats trailed the Red Storm, 39-28, at the half and was 1-for-1 from the line. In the second half, the Cincinnati found its way to the free throw line 21 times and converted on 14 as it battled from behind for a 71-60 win. Deonta Vaughn led the way going 7-for-10 from the charity stripe.
· On the season, UC is 7-2 on the year when attempting 20 or more free throws in a game.
· Cincinnati is also 4-0 this season when shooting 20 or more free throws in the second half.
PROTECT WHAT IS YOURS
· Since equaling their season-high with 20 turnovers at Memphis (Dec. 29), the Bearcats have been making steady improvements protecting the basketball.
· In its last nine games, UC has turned the ball over an average of 12.4 times per game (112 turnovers). 33 of the turnovers came in a two-game stretch vs. DePaul and Providence.
· The Bearcats six turnovers vs. Rutgers (Jan. 14) are a season low and equal the lowest total in Mick Cronin’s three years at UC (6, three times, last vs. USF in 2007-08).
· After turning over the ball 10 times in the first half vs. Georgetown (Jan. 28), Cincinnati gave up the ball just four times in the second half as they pulled away late for a 65-57 win over the nationally-ranked Hoyas.
· Since the start of league play, the team’s best at protecting the ball on paper has been Rashad Bishop, who is second in the league in conference only games with a 3.30 assist-turnover ratio.
“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.
· 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 group has started every game since Rutgers and has a record of 3-2 when starting.
· On Jan. 17,they went on to hold the DePaul to 25.0 percent shooting from three (4-of-16) and 1-of-8 shooting from deep in the second half in a 59-55 victory.
· At Providence, the group 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 started its third straight game at St. John’s and keyed the comeback with their defensive heroics. With the Bearcats trailing, 51-40, with 13:16 to play, Cincinnati rattled off 31 of the final 40 points to defeat the Red Storm, 71-60. During the final stretch, UC held St. John’s to 2-of-17 shooting from the floor.
· With UC trailing 55-54 with 4:10 left vs. Georgetown (Jan. 28), the Bearcats’ defense held the Hoyas to two points on 1-of-6 shooting the rest of the way, while Cincinnati scored 11 and went on to a 65-57 win.
· Villanova, who ranks fourth in the BIG EAST in 3-point field goal percentage, was held to .167 (2-of-12) from deep.
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 3.2 ppg over the final 10 minutes.
· 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 3.7 points per contest. He has also received help from Dion Dixon (3.3), Vaughn (3.2 ppg), and Yancy Gates (2.3 ppg) who all average over two points per game during the stretch run.
· In the 71-60 come-from-behind win at St. John’s (Jan. 22), Vaughn returned to his old self, scoring 20 points in the second half including 11 in the final 10 minutes, shooting a perfect 2-for-2 from 3-point range.
· In conference-only action, Dixon leads UC averaging 5.3 ppg in the final 10 minutes of games.
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, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.7 assists.
· For the season, Bishop has put up 5.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.9 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).
· He posted a career-high 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting at St. John’s before fouling out with two technical fouls with just over 17 minutes to play in the game.
· Bishop turned in a stellar all-around performance on Jan. 28 vs. No. 25/23 Georgetown, posting six points, six rebounds and a career-high nine assists.
· 27 of his 39 rebounds in league play are from the offensive glass (3.0 offensive rpg).
· Bishop has also taken care of the ball since the start of conference play, dishing out 33 assists, while committing just 10 turnovers.
· His 3.30 assist-to-turnover ratio in conference-only games ranks second in the BIG EAST.
· Senior guard Deonta Vaughn has become more comfortable with his new role as the team’s point guard and has 60 assists in the last 12 games (4.6 apg).
· He is eighth overall and ninth in conference-only games with 4.59 and 4.56 assists per game, respectively.
· He has dished out five or more assists in four of his last seven games.
· With his 10 assists at Marquette on Jan. 4, Vaughn surpassed 300 assists for his career. He has 332 assists in his career and needs 72 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.
· For the fourth time this season, the Bearcats battled back from a half-time deficit and beat St. John’s, 71-60, on Jan. 22. Trailing 51-40 with 13:16 to play, Cincinnati ended the game on a 31-9 run to defeat St. John’s, 71-60. During that stretch, Cincinnati held St. John’s to 2-of-17 shooting from the floor.
· UC is 4-8 on the season when trailing at the half.
· 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 St. John’s in the first half, making it the second-largest come-from-behind victory in Mick Cronin’s tenure at UC.
· UC’s other halftime comebacks this season came against UNLV (Nov. 29) and Eastern Kentucky (Dec. 20).
· 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.
· Cincinnati trailed Eastern Kentucky, 30-15, at 7:19 of the first half on Dec. 20 before mounting its comeback.
· 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.
· 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.
· After being held to six points vs. Providence a couple weeks later on Jan. 19, Vaughn bounced back again, this time with a game-high 23 points at St. John’s (Jan. 22) — 20 of which were scored in the second half.
· For the fifth time this season, Vaughn was held below 10 points at Villanova (Feb. 1), scoring eight points on 3-of-14 shooting.
· For his career, Vaughn is averaging 16.9 points in games following single-digit point performance.
· Nine 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 17.3 ppg since being shutout, including four 20-point plus performances.
GATES LEADING THE WAY
· 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 10.8 points per game and rebounding with 6.4 boards per contest.
· During that stretch, Gates is also shooting 46.4 percent from the field (65-of-140).
· On Jan. 28 vs. Georgetown and their freshman phenom Greg Monroe, Gates posted nine points, pulled in four rebounds and swatted away a career-high four shots.
· After scoring just two points against Xavier on Dec. 13, Gates has turned in eight double-digit scoring nights in the past 14 games (vs. Charleston Southern (18), Mississippi State (12), Eastern Kentucky (17), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (14), Marquette (10), Connecticut (12), Providence (14), and St. John’s (11)).
· For the season, Gates is the team’s second-leading scorer, averaging 10.0 points per game.
· The Cincinnati native has had 12 double-figure scoring games this season and Cincinnati is 9-3 when he scores in double-figures.
· His lone double-double of the season came in the season opener vs. South Dakota (Nov. 16).
HARD TIMES BEHIND THE LINE
· Before their last 10 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 34.3 percent in the last seven contests (47-of-137).
· In the last six games, freshman Dion Dixon is shooting 40.7 percent from behind the arc (11-of-27).
FIFTH THIRD ADVANTAGE
· UC is 9-3 at home this season, including 2-2 in BIG EAST games.
· 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 264-53 (.833) in games at Fifth Third Arena since the building opened in 1989-90.
· Under Mick Cronin, UC is 30-18 at home (.625).
TALE OF THE TAPE
· In Cincinnati’s 14 wins this season, UC is averaging 8.2 3-pointers per game and 16.0 assists per game compared to 13.9 turnovers per game.
· However, in UC’s eight losses, the Bearcats are averaging just 5.5 made 3-pointers per game, while averaging 12.1 assists per game compared to 16.0 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 +10.8 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 (Dec. 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 (Dec. 22) thanks to three 3-pointers from Vaughn.
· From the 12:10 to the 8:38 mark of the first half vs. DePaul (Jan. 17), Vaughn scored 10 of his game-high 18 points, which included a four-point play.
· Vaughn scored 20 of his game-high 23 points in the second-half and went on a 10-0 run by himself in the second-half to put Cincinnati ahead for good at St. John’s (Jan. 22).
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 64.0 points per game and 40.8 percent shooting, while averaging 39.3 rebounds per game and a +5.9 rebounding margin. Last year, UC allowed opponents 67.8 points per contest on .430 shooting.
· UC’s +5.9 rebounding margin ranks fourth in the BIG EAST.
· In the most recent NCAA statistics, Cincinnati was ranked nationally among the Top 30 in rebounding margin (+5.9/30th).
· Five players are averaging over 4.0 rebounds per game this season.
· Of the 757 missed shots by Cincinnati this season, the Bearcats have come away with the offensive rebound 338 times (44.6 percent).
· In the latest release of NCAA statistics, UC’s 15.4 offensive rebounds per game ranked 11th nationally.
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 26.7 points per game or 38.6 percent of the points.
· UC’s bench has been outscored its opponents reserves 15 times this season and is 12-3 in those games.
· For the fourth straight game, the Bearcats bench scored 20 or more points, outscoring Villanova 35-24 on Feb. 1.
· For the first time since Dec. 22, UC’s bench scored 30-plus bench points when it scored 35 vs. Villanova. Eight times this season Cincinnati’s bench has scored 30-plus points in a game.
· Against St. John’s, UC outscored the Red Storm bench 20-0, the first time this season an opponent’s bench has not scored. The last time UC held an opponents’ bench scoreless was Dec. 2, 2006 when the Bearcats held UAB without a point in a 59-57 loss.
· 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 (7.2 ppg).
· Steve Toyloy, the team’s third-leading rebounder is averaging 4.2 points and 4.1 rebounds in 16.3 minutes a game. He posted season-highs for points (14) and rebounds (9) vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff off the bench.
· 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 107-70 (.605) 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