Men's Basketball Takes on No. 3/4 Syracuse

GOBEARCATSDOTCOM Larry Davis
GOBEARCATSDOTCOM
Larry Davis
GOBEARCATSDOTCOM
Men's Basketball |

Feb. 6, 2010

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Game 23: No. 3/4 Syracuse at Cincinnati

Sunday, Feb. 7 | 2 p.m. | Fifth Third Arena (13,176) | Cincinnati, Ohio | TV: BIG EAST Network/FS Ohio | Radio: 700 WLW

 

Television: BIG EAST Network/FS Ohio

John Sanders (PXP)

Anthony Buford (ANA)

 

Radio: 700 WLW

Dan Hoard (PXP)

Chuck Machock (ANA)

Mo Egger (Host)

 

Satellite Radio: Sirius 126; XM 203

 

Pay-Per-View: ESPN Full Court

 

Streaming Video: ESPN360.com

 

Streaming Audio: GoBEARCATS.com

 

THE MATCH-UP

With eight games remaining in the regular season, the Cincinnati Bearcats (14-8, 5-5 BIG EAST) return home, where they are 11-1 this season, to face No. 3/4 Syracuse University (22-1, 9-1 BIG EAST) at Fifth Third Arena on Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 7) at 2 p.m. UC dropped to .500 in BIG EAST play on Thursday night, losing at Notre Dame, 83-65, in its biggest defeat of the season. Syracuse and its high-powered offense, which averages 82.5 points a game, has won nine in a row after knocking off Providence, 85-68, in its last outing on Feb. 2. Sunday’s game will be telecast on the BIG EAST Network and locally on FOX Sports Ohio with Jon Sanders (pxp), and former UC standout Anthony Buford (analyst) handling the call. Dan Hoard (pxp) and Chuck Machock (analyst) will call the game on 700 WLW.

 

THE SERIES

Sunday’s game will be the seventh meeting between Cincinnati and Syracuse.  Syracuse holds a 4-2 lead in the series, which began in the 2005-06 season, when UC joined the BIG EAST Conference.  Last year, SU picked up a late season win at home in the Carrier Dome vs. UC, 87-63, on March 1 despite a career-best 18 points from Dion Dixon. The Bearcats own a record of 1-1 vs. the Orange in Cincinnati after winning the last visit, 74-66, on Jan. 9, 2008.

 

SCOUTING THE ORANGE

·         Syracuse is one of the nation’s elite this season being ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press poll and No. 4 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ poll with a record of 22-1 overall and 9-1 in the BIG EAST Conference.

·         The Orange has won nine straight since being handed its only loss of the season at home to Pittsburgh, 82-72, on Jan. 2.

·         SU’s high-powered offense is ranked fifth in the nation and second in the BIG EAST putting up 82.5 points per game.

·         The offense is led by four players averaging 10 or more points a game. Junior forward Wes Johnson is the team’s top scorer at 16.7 ppg, followed by Kris Joseph (11.0 ppg), Arinze Onuaku (10.3 ppg), and Andy Rautins (10.3 ppg).

·         Johnson is also Syracuse’s top rebounder at 9.0 rebounds per game. He is one of four players in the BIG EAST this season averaging over 15 points and nine rebounds a game.

·         The Orange are sixth in the BIG EAST in rebounding margin (+4.4), three spots behind UC (+7.6) and pull down 38.7 rebounds per game.

·         From the field, Syracuse is the nation’s top shooting team, converting on 53.1 percent of its shots.

·         Defensively, the Orange are also one of the nation’s best in terms of shooting percentages, ranking 14th in the NCAA and holding opponents to 38.1 percent from the field.

·         After facing Notre Dame, the nation’s third-best team in terms of assists per game on Feb. 4, the Bearcats face the Orange, which is second in the country posting 20.2 assists per game, led by senior guard Andy Rautins (5.0 apg).

·         Defensively, Syracuse also is ranked in the nation’s Top 10 in steals (4th/11.0) and blocked shots (8th/7.1) per game.

 

CURRENT BEARCATS VS. SYRACUSE

·         The current crop of Bearcats are 1-2 vs. Syracuse with the one win coming at home vs. the Orange, 74-66, on Jan. 9, 2008. Then a sophomore, Deonta Vaughn scored 29 points and dished out five assists in the victory.

·         Senior Deonta Vaughn averages 17.6 ppg in his career against the Orange in three games.

·         In addition to his points, Vaughn is also averaging 4.3 assists per game vs. SU.

·         Sophomore guard Dion Dixon posted his best scoring performance as a Bearcat last season at Syracuse, dropping in 18 points and adding five rebounds and three assists.

 

FEB. 4 - NOTRE DAME GAME NOTES

·         Notre Dame shot 54 percent from the field in the second half and went on to defeat Cincinnati 83-65. The 18-point defeat is UC’s largest of the season.

·         The Cincinnati loss snapped a two-game winning streak for the Bearcats over the Irish and Notre Dame improved to 6-3 all-time and 3-0 at home all-time against Cincinnati.

·         For the game, the Irish connected on 29-of-61 shots (47.5 percent), while UC made just 21-of-55 shots (38.2 percent).

·         ND outrebounded UC, 41-32, and the Bearcats fell to 2-4 on the season when they are outrebounded.

·         Notre Dame outscored Cincinnati 38-26 in points in the paint. The 38 points in the paint are the second most by a UC opponent this season.

·         A 12-2 Irish run from the 10:54 mark of the second half to the 6:38 mark opened up a 20-point lead for Notre Dame, 68-48.

·         A lay-up by Luke Harangody with two seconds to play in the first half gave the Irish a 40-27 lead entering the half. The 13-point halftime deficit is Cincinnati’s second largest halftime deficit of the season and its largest this season in conference contests.

·         Over a 4:39 stretch mid-way through the first half, an 11-3 ND run widened a three-point lead for the Irish to 11 points, 28-17, with 5:50 to play in the opening half.

·         After scoring five points in his last eight games, junior Larry Davis scored six points in the first half for the Bearcats and finished with a team-high 12 points on a season-high four 3-pointers. Davis’ 12 points marked his third double-figure scoring effort of the season.

·         Senior Deonta Vaughn added 11 points, his 14th double-figure scoring game this season and his fifth in a row.

·         Sophomore Yancy Gates led Cincinnati with 10 points and four rebounds in the first half. Gates finished with 10 points and six boards.

 

GETTING DOWN TO THE END

·         With just eight games remaining in the regular season and NCAA Tournament bid on the line, the Cincinnati Bearcats are heading into one of their toughest portions of their schedule.

·         Over the final four weeks of the season, UC will face four of the nation’s top 10 teams (No. 2/2 Villanova, No. 3/4 Syracuse,  No. 6/6 West Virginia, No. 7/8 Georgetown), and road games at USF, one of the nation’s hottest teams, and Connecticut. The final two contests are at home vs. Marquette and DePaul.

·         UC’s final eight opponents own a combined record of 126-48 (.724).

 

RESUME BUILDING — 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.

 

PLATOONING AT THE POINT

·         Over the last four games, one of the areas that UC has seen steady improvement has been in the play of its two freshmen point guards, Cashmere Wright and Jaquon Parker.

·         In the last four games, the duo has combined to average 16.3 points (Wright 10.0; Parker 6.3), 5.0 rebounds (Parker 3.3; Wright 1.8), and 3.5 assists (1.75 apg each) per game. They have also turned the ball over just five times in 152 minutes of action.

·         Prior to this four-game stretch, Wright and Parker were posting 4.7 and 3.5 points per game, respectively, with a combined 47 assists in 18 games (2.6 apg).

·         In his first start in a BIG EAST Conference game on Jan. 20 vs. USF, Parker poured in career-highs of 15 points and five assists along with four rebounds as Cincinnati knocked off the Bulls, 78-70.

·         At Louisville, Wright single-handedly tried to bring UC back from a 12-point deficit midway through the second half by scoring seven points of a 12-2 run to cut the Cardinals lead to two points, 58-56. Even though the comeback fell short, 68-60, Wright finished with a team-high tying 12 points.

·         Wright followed up his double-figure performance at UofL with a career-night vs. Providence as the Bearcats held on for a 92-88 victory over the Friars. Wright, whose previous career scoring high was 12 points, put in 13 points in the first half vs. PC and went on to finish with 24. He also added four rebounds and career-highs of five assists and three steals. He did not turn the ball over in 30 minutes of play.

 

SECOND TIME AROUND

·         Starting with Cincinnati’s game at Notre Dame on Feb. 4, the Bearcats will begin their second trip through their repeat league opponents (Connecticut, Notre Dame, USF).

·         UC went undefeated against the trio in the first match-ups at Fifth Third Arena, winning 71-60 over then-No. 10 UConn on Dec. 30, knocking off Notre Dame, 60-58, on Jan. 16, and finally beating USF, 78-70 on Jan. 20.

·         In the first three games vs. UConn, Notre Dame and USF, senior guard Deonta Vaughn averaged a team high 17.3 points per game, followed by freshman Lance Stephenson’s 15.0 ppg. Rashad Bishop and Jaquon Parker also averaged in double figures with 10.3 and 10.0 ppg, respectively.

·         The Bearcats outrebounded the three opponents by a margin of +5.3 per game (40.0-34.7) and out shot them 42.2 percent to 40.6 percent.

·         Against Connecticut and Notre Dame, two of the nation’s top scoring offenses, Cincinnati held each below their season average. The Huskies came into Fifth Third Arena averaging 74.9 points per game, while Notre Dame was posting 82.1 points a night. The two were held to 69 and 58 points, respectively. USF, which is averaging 85.0 points per game since playing UC on Jan. 20, scored just 70 points.

·         In last game at Notre Dame on Feb. 4, the Irish’s offense came alive and posted 83 points in an 18-point win, led by Luke Harangody’s 37 points and Tim Abromaitis’s 22.

 

FIFTH THIRD ADVANTAGE

·         The Bearcats are 277-56 (.831) in games at Fifth Third Arena since the building opened in 1989-90.

·         Under Mick Cronin, UC is 40-21 in Fifth Third (.656).

·         UC is 11-1 at home and 10-1 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 77.6 points per game at home led by Lance Stephenson’s 12.3 points per game and Deonta Vaughn’s 12.2 average.

 

TOUGH TIMES ON THE ROAD

·         The Bearcats are 1-6 in away games this season and have a record of 8-33 (.195) in road games under Mick Cronin.

·         Cincinnati picked up its only road win of the season at Rutgers on Jan. 2, 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 40.8 percent and averaged 63.1 points per game on the road this season compared to 48.4 percent shooting and 77.6 points in Fifth Third Arena.

·         Cincinnati’s 3-point shooting struggles the most on the road as the Bearcats are converting just 35-of-142 (.246) treys away from home, compared to 34.6 percent at home (81-of-234).

·         Taking care of the ball is also a weakness on the road as UC is giving up 14.9 turnovers per game, compared to its season average of 13.5, an increase of almost 1.5 per game.

 

TALE OF THE TAPE — CONFERENCE HOME VS. AWAY

·         Cincinnati has a record of 5-5 in the BIG EAST entering Sunday’s game vs. Syracuse. UC is 4-1 at home compared to 1-4 on the road in league action.

·         The Bearcats are shooting better at home (46.5 percent) than on the road (43.9 percent) in conference play

·         UC has been turnover prone away from Fifth Third Arena with a -6.0 turnover margin on the road compared to -1.0 at home.

·         While the Bearcats are shooting better from the free throw line in road games (74.6 percent) than in home games (60.7 percent), UC has been able to get to the free throw line 22.4 times per game at home compared to 14.2 times on the road.

·         Cincinnati also has done a much better job defending the three-pointer in Fifth Third Arena than in road contests. Opponents are shooting 34.8 percent (32-of-92) on their home floor compared to 32.6 percent (29-of-89) on UC’s home floor.

 

NEEDING TO FIND CONSISTENCY

·         After going 1-2 in its last three games, one thing the Bearcats need to find is consistency.

·         In the win over Providence, the UC offense posted its second-highest point total of year in the 92-88 victory, shooing 57.1 percent from the field.

·         In the losses at Louisville and Notre Dame, the same UC offense has strung together just 62.5 points per game on 40.7 percent shooting.

·         Defensively, UC has been solid most of the season, limiting opponents to an average of 65.4 points per contest on 39.9 percent from the field. That number has jumped considerably in the last three games as opponents are averaging 79.7 points on 46.2 percent shooting.

·         Throughout the season, UC has been one of the nation’s top rebounding teams averaging 40.2 rebounds per game and a +7.6, but in the last three games, UC has averaged just 34.7 boards per game. Opponents have grabbed 33.7 rebounds per game — a +1.0 rebounding margin for UC.

 

JUST A BLIP ON THE RADAR

·         The Providence game appears to be just a “blip on the radar screen” as UC  sank 80 percent (16-of-20) of its free throws at Notre Dame — its second-highest percentage of the year (.818 at Seton Hall).

·         After shooting almost 70 percent (69.7) from the free throw line in the first nine games since the start of BIG EAST play on Dec. 30 vs. UConn, the Bearcats free-throw shooting woes returned against Providence as they knocked down just 20 of their 41 attempts (.488).

·         Senior Deonta Vaughn, who had not missed a free throw in 24 attempts since Nov. 25 vs. Gonzaga in the finals of the Maui Invitational was just 5-of-10 from the line vs. the Friars.

·         For the season, UC is shooting 63.8 percent from the line and averaging 18.5 attempts per game.

·         In the 11 games since the start of league play, sophomore Yancy Gates has attempted just 16 free throws and made eight (.500).

 

EXPERIENCE IN THE POST

·         Yancy Gates went against a talented group of post players during his freshman year, playing against the likes of Hasheem Thabeet, DeJuan Blair, and Luke Harangody. That experience has been beneficial for Gates in his second year in the BIG EAST.

·         The Cincinnati product finished his freshman season of conference action averaging 10.9 ppg and 6.0 rpg, but Gates started a bit slow in conference play averaging 9.4 ppg and 5.4 rpg, while shooting .409 over the first nine conference games.

·         Through 10 conference games this season, Gates has gotten off to a better start averaging 10.6 ppg and 7.1 rpg, while shooting .570 percent from the field.

·         Gates has scored in double figures in seven of 10 conference contests and posted double-doubles vs. Pittsburgh (16 points and 14 rebounds) and Notre Dame (11 points, 13 rebounds).

·         Despite playing in the paint, Gates has made it to the free-throw line just 16 times in UC’s last 11 games.

 

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

·         After getting off to a tough start to the season averaging 9.7 points per game through the first 10 games, two-time all-BIG EAST performer Deonta Vaughn has since found his shooting stroke.

·         Vaughn struggled with his 3-point shot (.258, 16-of-62) through UC’s first 10 games, but is 31 for his last 71 (.437) from 3-point range in the last 12 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. He has since posted 15 points vs. Notre Dame, another 20 vs. USF, and 12 points vs. Louisville and Providence.

·         The Bearcats are 10-5 this season and 44-41 (.518) during Vaughn’s career when he scores in double figures.

 

BENCH STRENGTH

Now in his fourth year, Coach Cronin has developed a bench that has 10 players averaging 10 minutes or more a game and another posting 9.8 a game.

Cincinnati’s depth has afforded Coach Cronin to use 14 different starting lineups in 22 games.

UC is outscoring its opponents bench 603-326 (27.4-14.8 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 three times this season. All three instances have come in conference losses — losses to Pittsburgh (Jan. 4), Seton Hall (Jan. 9), and St. John’s (Jan. 13). In the three games, the opponent’s bench has outscored Cincinnati’s bench, 91-56 (30.3 - 18.7). The 18.7 ppg from its bench is 9.2 ppg lower than its season average.

 

A CAREER MAN

Senior guard Deonta Vaughn currently ranks fourth among active NCAA players from 2006 to the present in 3-point field goals made with 286.

The top five active leaders are:

Name, College                       No.

Ryan Wittman, Cornell            338

Tajuan Porter, Oregon             322

Corey Lowe, Boston University 289

Deonta Vaughn, Cincinnati 288

Joe Zeglinski, Hartford            279

 

VAUGHN IN SEARCH OF HISTORY

Senior guard Deonta Vaughn has started all four years at Cincinnati for head coach Mick Cronin where he has twice been named all-BIG EAST Conference (1st team in 2007-08; 3rd team in 2008-09) and led the team in points and assists all three years.

In UC’s game vs. USF on Jan. 20 he became the sixth player in school history to score 1,700 points in his career.

Only Oscar Robertson, Steve Logan, and Deonta Vaughn have scored 1,700 points and dished out 400 assists in their career in Clifton.

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

24 points to tie Pat Cummings (1974-79) for fifth on the career scoring list.

32 assists to tie Eddie Lee (1976-80) for first on the career assists list with 500.

Two starts to move ahead of Dwight Jones (1979-83) for first all-time in career starts with 113.

Eight steals to tie Eddie Lee (1976-80) for third on the career steals list with 163.

36 minutes to tie Steve Logan (1998-02) for second in career minutes played with 3,902.

18 made 3-pointers to surpass Darnell Burton (1993-97) for first in career 3-pointers made with 307.

 

UP NEXT

The Bearcats have six days off before returning to the court on Feb. 13 to face Connecticut at Noon in the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. Cincinnati picked up its first ever win vs. UConn on Dec. 30, 71-69, in Fifth Third Arena and trails the all-time series, 5-1.

 

 


 

 

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