Men's Basketball Plays Regular-Season Road Finale at USF

Steve Toyloy
Men's Basketball |

March 3, 2009

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GAME 30: Cincinnati At USF

Tuesday, March 3 l 7 p.m. EST l Sun Dome (10,411) l Tampa, Fla. l ESPNU


The Cincinnati Bearcats (18-11, 8-8 BIG EAST) play their third game in six days when they visit the Sun Dome to face USF (8-20, 3-13 BIG EAST) on Tuesday, March 3 at 7 p.m. UC, which has dropped three of its last four games and is in ninth place in the BIG EAST Conference, looks to pick up its ninth BIG EAST win and stay in the race for the final first-round bye in the league championship. Cincinnati lost at Syracuse, 87-63, on Sunday despite a career-high 18 points from freshman Dion Dixon. USF hopes to end a six-game losing streak when it hosts its regular-season home finale vs. UC. Tuesday’s game will be televised nationally on ESPNU with Rob Stone handling the play-by-play duties and Bob Valvano providing analysis.



Tuesday’s game will be the 26th meeting between Cincinnati and USF.  Cincinnati holds a 20-5 advantage in the series, and has won 16 of the last 18 contests.  The two teams have split the last four match-ups since USF ended a UC 14-game win streak with an 80-68 win in the quarterfinals of the 2005 Conference USA Tournament.  The Bearcats are 7-3 vs. the Bulls in Tampa.




·         USF owns a record of 8-20 overall and is 14th in the BIG EAST Conference with a mark of 3-13.

·         The Bulls have lost six games in a row, including a 64-50 decision at home vs. West Virginia on Sunday.

·         South Florida has earned all but two of their wins this season at home in the Sun Dome where they are 6-7 overall and 2-6 in the BIG EAST.

·         USF averages 59.4 points per game and allows 65.4, ranking 16th and sixth overall in the BIG EAST, respectively. The defensive ranking is one spot ahead of the Bearcats (66.2 ppg/7th).

·         The Bulls rank 73rd in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage defense, limiting opponents to a 32.5 shooting percentage.

·         The Bull have three players averaging 10 or more points per game, led by sophomore guard Dominique Jones’ 18.1 ppg. Jones ranks seventh overall in the BIG EAST and is tied for fourth in league-only games. Joining Jones is Jesus Verdejo (12.9 ppg) and Augustus Gilchrist (10.1 ppg).

·         Jones also leads the team in rebounding with 5.4 rebounds per contest and is one of four players who average over 4.0 rebounds per game.

·         Verdejo and Jones are the Bulls top 3-point threats averaging 1.96 and 1.68 treys made per game, respectively.

·         Howard (111) and Jones (109) are No. 1 and 2 on the team in assists with over 100 each. Howard averages 3.96 assists per game, while Jones posted 3.86 apg.

·         Jones is the only player in BIG EAST-only games ranked in the Top 20 in scoring (18.1 ppg/t-4th)) and rebounding (6.3 rpg/19th) and Top 15 in assists (3.63/t-14th).



·         Syracuse leads the all-time series 4-2, including a 2-1 mark in the Carrier Dome

·         The Orange held a 21-2 advantage on fast-break points, 13-4 on second-chance points, and 48-18 on points in the paint.

·         Syracuse scored 69 of its 87 points off free throws and points in the paint.

·         The Bearcats scored seven points in the first 9:28 of the game and trailed 40-17 at the half. The 17 points were a season low in a half.

·         UC’s 46 second-half points were its third-best second half output of the season, behind Notre Dame (56), and UAB (49).

·         UC shot .552 (16-of-29) from the field in the second half, including an 8-for-16 (.500) effort from behind the arc.

·         Mike Williams did not play for the second-straight game (knee injury) and remains day-to-day.

·         Dion Dixon had a career-best 18 points, knocking down four three pointers, and adding five boards and three assists.

·         Deonta Vaughn did not score for the first 35 minutes of the game. He had all 11 points in the final five minutes of action.

·         Rashad Bishop had a team-high seven rebounds.

·         Yancy Gates scored all eight of his points and grabbed all of his five rebounds in the second half.



·         Throughout the entire season, UC’s primary scoring has come from either junior Deonta Vaughn, freshman Yancy Gates, and senior Mike Williams.

·         Over the past six games, those three players are all averaging in double figures (Vaughn - 12.0 ppg; Gates - 12.7 ppg; Williams - 12.0 ppg), but it has been the emergence of sophomore Larry Davis and freshman Dion Dixon that have given the Bearcats a much needed scoring presence out of the shooting guard position.

·         In the last six games, Dixon and Davis are averaging 23.0 and 23.2 minutes per game, respectively. In that amount of work, the duo is combining to score 18.0 ppg, grab 4.6 rpg, and dish out 3.3 apg.

·         Dixon and Davis also have combined to shoot 47.6 percent (39-of-82) from the floor and 41.3 percent (19-of-46) from three-point range.

·         Since playing at Villanova on Feb. 1, the shooting guard position has outscored every other position on the floor for UC.



·         Freshman Yancy Gates scored a career-high 22 points and tied a career-high with 11 rebounds vs. West Virginia on Feb. 26.

·         The double-double was Gates’ second of the season and his first since having 16 points and 11 rebounds in UC’s season-opener vs. South Dakota on Nov. 16.

·         The Bearcats are 2-0 on the season when Gates records a double-double.

·         Against the Mountaineers, Gates went 9-for-11 from the field and grabbed nine defensive rebounds, marking season-bests for field goals made and defensive rebounds.

·         Gates is averaging a team-high 12.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, and is shooting .517 (30-of-58) percent from the floor over the last six contests.



·         With UC’s win over West Virginia on Thursday, Feb. 26, the Bearcats reached 18 wins overall and eight in BIG EAST play.

·         The eight conference wins matched the most BIG EAST wins for the Bearcats since joining the conference during the 2005-06 season. UC went 8-8 in the BIG EAST in 2005-06 and 8-10 in 2007-08.

·         The Bearcats are also two wins away from their first 20-win season since the 2005-06 season and Mick Cronin’s first as UC head coach.



·         After sitting out two seasons, including last season when he was rehabbing from a ruptured Achilles tendon, it took Mike Williams time to get his “legs” back under him.

·         Since the start of BIG EAST play, Williams has averaged 31.4 minutes per game in comparison to 24.1 minutes in non-conference action.

·         Those extra 7.3 minutes have meant an additional 3.7 points per game for Cincinnati.

·         His shooting touch has also improved substantially since the start of league play, going from 45.3 percent in non-conference action to 54.2 percent in league action.

·         Williams has missed the Bearcats last two games with a knee injury and remains day-to-day.



·         In the past nine games, Cincinnati has gone 5-4 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.

·         Over the last nine, UC has held Notre Dame, Villanova, Georgetown (twice), Pittsburgh, St. John’s, Louisville, West Virginia, and Syracuse to a combined 43-of-147 from behind the arc (.293).

·         UC is 14-4 when holding opponents to under 30.0 percent shooting from behind the arch this year. The losses were to Memphis (.111), Providence (Jan. 19/.150), Villanova (.167), and Syracuse (.273).

·         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.

·         Against the Mountaineers, the Bearcats held WVU to  4-of-21 (19.3 percent) shooting from three, marking the fifth time this season a UC opponent has shot below 20 percent from behind the arc.

·         West Virginia and Syracuse went a combined 10-of-43 (.233) in Cincinnati’s last two games.



·         After starting out 0-3 in conference action, UC has won eight of its last 13 games.

·         In the first three conference games, junior Deonta Vaughn averaged 13.0 ppg, and shot 30-percent from behind-the-arc. Over the last 13 games, Vaughn is averaging 15.8 ppg and is shooting 35.9 percent from three.

·         Freshman Yancy Gates has established himself in the post over the last 14 games as his scoring average went from 10.0 ppg over the first three league games to 11.3 since.



·         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 5-0 when getting to the line at least 20 times in a game.

·         On the season, UC is 10-2 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.

·         In the Bearcats last two losses to Louisville and Syracuse, they have shot a combined 15 free throws, including a season-low two vs. the Cardinals on Feb. 21.



·         Cincinnati is 113-166 (.405) all-time vs. opponents ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, including a 22-20 (.524) record in Fifth Third Arena.

·         UC is 1-7 vs. teams ranked in both the AP or ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll this season and 1-5 vs. teams ranked in the Associated Press Poll.

·         Last season, head coach Mick Cronin led the Bearcats to a pair of home wins vs. ranked teams, beating No. 19 Villanova, 69-66, and No. 15 Pittsburgh, 62-59.

·         UC is 3-15 vs. ranked opponents under Cronin.



·         Cincinnati is currently 53rd in the RPI Ratings and owns the nation’s 19th toughest schedule.

·         The Bearcats are 5-9 against teams listed higher than them in the latest RPI. West Virginia is the highest ranked opponent UC has beaten, coming in at No. 20.

·         UC is 1-5 vs. ranked teams in the AP poll and 1-7 vs. teams ranked in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll. Its one win in both polls came in a 65-57 decision vs. then-No. 25/23 Georgetown on Jan. 28.



·         Sophomore Larry Davis had been struggling to find his shot the seven games prior to the Notre Dame game on Feb. 4, scoring 19 combined points.

·         In his seven outings since, Davis has scored 73 points (10.4 ppg), fourth-most on the team.

·         Against Notre Dame (Feb. 4), 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 (Feb. 7), he scored all 11 of his points in the second half, including three 3-pointers.

·         Davis scored seven consecutive points in the second-half at No. 4/4 Pitt, helping the Bearcats close within as few as six points in the second half. Davis finished the contest with 13 points, his third double-figure scoring game in the last five outings.



·         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 5-7 overall away from Fifth Third Arena, including 3-5 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 8-25 on the road as a member of the BIG EAST.

·         The Bearcats do not find the rims on the road kind as they are shooting 38.6 percent on the road compared to 46.0 percent at home.

·         UC also has a difficult time with the caroms as opponents hold the Bearcats to 33.9 rebounds per game on the road compared to 39.4 at home.

·         Junior guard Deonta Vaughn averages just 12.4 points per game away from Fifth Third Arena compared to 16.8 ppg at home and was held scoreless for the first time in his career at Marquette on Jan. 4.

·         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.



·         In Cincinnati’s last 10 outings, freshman guard Dion Dixon has begun to find his game and become more at ease vs. BIG EAST competition. Over the stretch, Dixon is Cincinnati’s third leading scorer, averaging 9.0 points. He is shooting 46.9 (30-of-64) from the floor and 49.5 (15-of-38) from 3-point range.

·         Dixon has scored in double figures five times during the 10-game stretch, including 10 points in four of the Bearcats last five games. In total he has 10 double-digit games this season.

·         He equaled his career high for scoring at Providence (Jan. 19) with 14 points, including 4-of-8 shooting from 3-point range.

·         Dixon led the Bearcats in scoring vs. Syracuse, knocking down a career-high 18 points. 12 of his 18 points came on a career-high tying four 3-pointers. He also added five rebounds and three assists vs. the Orange.


·         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 10 games, UC has turned the ball over an average of 12.2 times per game.

·         Cincinnati had a season-low five turnovers vs. Notre Dame (Feb. 4), the lowest total in Mick Cronin’s three years at UC.

·         The Bearcats previous low for turnovers was six vs. Rutgers (Jan. 14).

·         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.





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