Men's Hoops Returns to Fifth Third for St. John's
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Feb. 10, 2009

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GAME 25: St. John’s at Cincinnati

Wednesday, Feb. 11 l 7:30 p.m. EST l Fifth Third Arena (13,176) l Cincinnati, Ohio l ESPN360

 

THE MATCH-UP

The Cincinnati Bearcats (16-8, 6-5 BIG EAST) return home to Fifth Third Arena Wednesday, Feb. 11 to close out its season series with St. John’s (12-11, 3-8 BIG EAST). The two teams last met on Jan. 22 in Carnesecca Arena with the Bearcats posting a 71-60 come-from-behind victory. Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET and will be televised on ESPN360.com. Jim Barbar will call the play-by-play with Mark Adams handling the analysis. Cincinnati, winners of six it of its last eight games,  is coming off a dramatic 64-62 overtime win at Georgetown last Saturday, Feb. 7. St. John’s has dropped seven  of its nine contests, including a 60-47 loss vs. Louisville on Sunday.

 

THE SERIES

Wednesday’s meeting with St. John’s will be the 10th between the two schools. The Red Storm owns a 5-4 edge in the series, but the Bearcats have won the last two, including a 71-60 decision earlier this season on Jan. 22 in Queens.  UC’s 60-43 win at home last season on Feb. 13 evened the series at 1-1 in Cincinnati. Junior guard Deonta Vaughn is the Bearcats’ top scorer vs. St. John’s, averaging 16.7 ppg in three career starts.

 

SCOUTING ST. JOHN’S

The Red Storm owns a record of 12-11 overall and 3-8 in the BIG EAST Conference.

St. John’s has lost seven of its last nine games, including a 60-47 decision at Louisville on Sunday.

STJ is winless on the road this season with a 0-6 record.

The Red Storm is ranked 80th in the nation in rebounding margin (+3.2)

Paris Horne is St. John’s leading scorer, ranking 20th in the BIG EAST with 14.4 points a game. Horne joins D.J. Kennedy (13.1) as one of two players on the team averaging 10 or more points this season. Justin Burrell and Sean Evans just missed the 10-point threshold, posting 9.8 and 9.7 ppg, respectively.

St. John’s has outscored its opponents 67.3-66.3 ppg this season, ranking 13th and 10th, in the conference, respectively.

Kennedy also leads the squad in rebounding (6.8 rpg), 0.1 ahead of Evans (6.7 rpg).

The Red Storm is sixth in the BIG EAST and 77th in the NCAA, posting 4.1 blocked shots per game.

 

GEORGETOWN GAME NOTES - FEB. 7

Both Cincinnati and Georgetown went scoreless from the field in overtime, but UC shot 5-of-6 from the free throw line, while the Hoyas went 3-of-6 from the charity stripe as UC defeated Georgetown, 64-62.

With the win, UC now trails 4-2 in the all-time series and Saturday’s win over Georgetown was Cincinnati’s first win in Washington, D.C.

The Bearcats improved to 2-0 in overtime games this season. Cincinnati’s other overtime win came against Eastern Kentucky on Dec. 20.

UC improved to 3-3 on the road in conference play, tying for the most conference road wins in a season since joining the BIG EAST during the 2005-06 season.

The Bearcats finished with a season-low six offensive rebounds.

Trailing by as many as 12 points early in the second half, UC earned its fourth double-digit come-from-behind victory of the season. Cincinnati is 5-8 on the season when trailing at the half.

UC shot 63.6 percent (14-of-22) from the field in the second half, including 66.7 percent (6-of-9) from three.

Cincinnati scored five unanswered points, including a 3-pointer from sophomore Alvin Mitchell, in the final 1:55 of regulation to send the game into overtime.

A 10-0 run from the 7:30 mark to the 5:07 of the second half gave UC a 54-52 lead with 5:07 to play, its first lead since leading 15-13 with 7:22 on the clock in the first half.

A 7-0 run by Georgetown to start the second half gave the Hoyas a 33-21 lead with 18:02 remaining in the game.

The Hoyas bench outscored the Bearcats bench 13-4 in the first half. However, Cincinnati outscored Georgetown 18-10 in second-half bench points.

Georgetown entered the half with a 26-21 lead after UC went 2-of-12 from the field in the last 12-plus minutes of the first half.

Cincinnati held Georgetown scoreless for the first four minutes of the game and took an 11-2 lead with 15:08 to play in the first half. UC’s first eight points came from its post players, senior Mike Williams and junior Steve Toyloy.

For the first time since Jan. 20, 2007 (vs. West Virginia), Cincinnati had four players score in double figures. Junior Deonta Vaughn led the way with 16 points, while Williams, freshman Yancy Gates, and sophomore Larry Davis each added 11 points apiece.

Vaughn also grabbed a career-high nine rebounds and dished out seven assists. It marked the second time this season Vaughn led the team in points, rebounds, and assists in the same game. The other time was vs. Rutgers on Jan. 14 — 24 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists.

After scoring six points in the last two games, Williams connected on his first three shots scoring the Bearcats’ first six points of the game. Williams finished with 11 points, his 12th double-figure scoring game of the season.

Gates grabbed seven rebounds and had two blocks in addition to his 11 points, his 14th double-figure scoring effort of the season. Gates scored nine of his 11 points in the second half.

Davis scored all of his 11 points in the second half, marking his seventh double-figure scoring game this season.

Mitchell came off the bench and scored all nine of his points off three 3-pointers in the second half.

 

“D” THE THREE:

In the past four games, Cincinnati has gone 3-1 and one of the reasons for its success has been its ability to defend the 3-pointer.

In their first seven league games, opponents shot .425 from deep, connecting on 54-of-127 long-range attempts.

In the past four contests, UC has held Notre Dame, Villanova, and Georgetown to a combined 16-of-57 from behind the arc (.281).

All four teams are ranked in the top seven in the BIG EAST in 3-point field goal percentage and the Irish’s three made 3-pointers were a season-low for Notre Dame.

Notre Dame’s Kyle McAlarney, who was leading the BIG EAST in 3-pointers made per game (4.05) and was third in 3-point percentage (.458) heading into his match-up with UC, went  0-for-5 from three and 2-for-12 from the field.

 

DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME …

In the final seven games of the regular season, the Bearcats will face three teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, including Top 10 opponents No. 4 Pittsburgh (Feb. 14) and No. 5 Louisville (Feb. 21).

Of the seven remaining teams on UC’s schedule all but one own a winning record (USF – 8-14) and they have a combined mark of 107-54 (.665).

Cincinnati is currently 51st in the RPI Ratings and owns the nation’s 30th 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. Its one win in both polls came in a 65-57 win vs. Georgetown on Jan. 28.

 

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 eight games since, the Bearcats have won six thanks to a much improved defense that is holding opponents to 64.9 points per game, 19.1 points fewer per outing than the first three conference games (84.0 ppg).

 

DYNAMIC DAVIS

Sophomore Larry Davis had been struggling to find his shot for the previous seven games before the Notre Dame game (Feb. 4), scoring 19 combined points.

In his last two outings, Davis has scored 32 points, second-most on the team.

Against Notre Dame, Davis went 8-of-14 from the field and scored a career-high 21 points.

Davis’ previous career high was 16 points against Providence on March 2, 2008.

In the Bearcats’ 64-62 come-from-behind win at Georgetown, he scored all 11 of his points in the second half, including three 3-pointers.

 

GATES NAMED BIG EAST ROOKIE OF THE WEEK

After helping the University of Cincinnati men’s basketball team to a 93-83 victory over Notre Dame and a 64-62 overtime triumph over Georgetown last week, freshman Yancy Gates was named the BIG EAST Rookie of the Week

Gates becomes one of four BIG EAST freshmen to win Rookie of the Week honors multiple times this season, joining Louisville’s Samardo Samuels, Georgetown’s Greg Monroe, and Rutgers’ Mike Rosario.

The Cincinnati native averaged 13.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, and shot 52.4 percent from the field last week, while also averaging 1.5 blocks per game and 1.0 steal per contest.

Against Notre Dame, Gates scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 21 minutes of action, before scoring 11 points and corralling eight rebounds at Georgetown.

 

FAMILIAR FACES

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.

The Bearcats are 3-2 vs. teams in their pod, including a sweep of Georgetown

 

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 maturing as they are 5-5 overall away from Fifth Third Arena, including 3-3 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 8-23 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 37.2 percent on the road compared to 45.3 percent at home.

UC also has a difficult time with the caroms as opponents hold the Bearcats to 35.0 rebounds per game on the road compared to 40.9 at home.

Junior guard Deonta Vaughn averages just 13.0 points per game away from Fifth Third Arena compared to 17.9 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 10 games, freshman guard Dion Dixon has begun find his game and become more at ease vs. BIG EAST competition.

In the 10 games since scoring three points at Marquette on Jan. 4, Dixon is fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 7.7 points, and averages 2.5 rebounds per contest.

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 six games, Dixon is averaging 8.3 ppg, he is shooting 43.6 percent from the field (17-of-39), and 40.7 percent from behind the arc (11-of-27).


GOTTA GET TO THE LINE

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 4-0 when getting to the line at least 20 times in a game.

On the season, UC is 8-2 on the year when attempting 20 or more free throws in a game.

Cincinnati is also 5-0 this season when shooting 20 or more free throws in the second half.

UC completed its 64-62 come-from-behind win at Georgetown on Feb. 7 scoring all five overtime points from the free throw line on 5-of-6 shooting.

Against Notre Dame on Feb. 4, Cincinnati went 31-of-41 from the charity stripe, including 22-of-31 in the second half.

The 41 free throw attempts are UC’s most since shooting 41 against West Virginia on Jan. 20, 2007, and the 31 made free throws are its most made free throws since making 31 vs. Northwestern State on Dec. 18, 2004.

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.