Cincinnati to Face Louisville for BIG EAST Championship Crown
Yancy Gates and Justin Jackson

March 10, 2012

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The fourth-seed Cincinnati Bearcats (24-9) will face long-time rival and seventh-seed Louisville (25-9) for the 2012 BIG EAST Championship title at Madison Square on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET. The contest will air on ESPN and can be heard on 700 WLW-AM.

UC will play in the school's first BIG EAST Championship title game after posting a 71-68 victory over tournament top-seed and No. 2 in the nation, Syracuse on Friday. Four Bearcats scored in double figures led by Yancy Gates and Sean Kilpatrick, who scored 18 points each. UC never trailed against the Orange, building as much as a 17-point first half lead thanks in part to eight three-pointers. Gates scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half to help UC maintain a lead and Kilpatrick's three-pointer at 1:04 left gave the Bearcats a 65-56 lead that held off the surging Orange.

Louisville advanced to its the tournament final after recording a 64-50 semifinal-round win over third-seed Notre Dame. Gorgui Dieng led all scorers with 16 points on 8-of-8 shooting from the field.

Saturday's game marks the 96th meeting in series history. Louisville holds a 53-42 lead in the series, but UC has won the last three meetings, including a 60-56 decision at Fifth Third Arena on Feb. 23. UC is 3-2 against the Cardinals all-time at neutral sites. UC earned a 69-66 win over UofL in the second round of the 2010 BIG EAST Championship.



UC's History at the BIG EAST Championship: Sixth tournament appearance; UC is 5-5 all-time at the BIG EAST Championship advancing to the quarterfinal round each of the past two seasons. UC is 1-2 all-time in the quarterfinal round and 1-0 in the semifinal round.
Last Year: Cincinnati received a first-round bye as the No. 7 seed; defeated No. 15 USF 87-61 in the second round; and lost to No. 2 seed Notre Dame 89-51 in the quarterfinals.
Coach: Mick Cronin is in his sixth season at Cincinnati (111-86); ninth season overall (180-110). Cronin is 5-4 at the BIG EAST Championship and 4-4 all-time vs. Louisville.
Ranking: Cincinnati was not ranked in the Associated Press or the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll for March 5.
Radio: 700 WLW; Dan Hoard provides play-by-play alongside color analyst Chuck Machock. Paul Shrager engineers.
TV: ESPN and ESPN 3D; Announcers include: Sean McDonough, Jay Bilas and Bill Raftery.
UC Twitter Page: @GoBEARCATS

-The Bearcats are making the school's first appearance in the finals of the BIG EAST Championship. It marks UC's first tournament finals appearance since the 2004 Conference USA Finals, a 55-50 win over DePaul on March 13, 2004.

-The Bearcats have won nine of their last 11 games, including four against ranked foes.

-Friday's semifinal victory over No. 2/2 Syracuse was the first win against a Top-2 opponent since a 77-75 victory against No. 1 Duke on Nov. 28, 1998.

-Cincinnati set the school record for regular-season BIG EAST Conference wins, posting a 12-6 league mark.

-The Bearcats No. 4 seed in the BIG EAST Championship is their highest in six tournament appearances. UC earned its first double bye at the BIG EAST Championship.

-The Bearcats have recorded a school-record seven wins over ranked teams this season, the most in the nation. UC is 7-3 overall against ranked teams.

-UC's seven road wins this season (all games) ranked second in the BIG EAST to Syracuse (9). The Bearcats finished first in the league last season with eight road wins (all games).

-UC has played in a BIG EAST-high 15 games decided by five or less points or in overtime this season. Its 10 wins in such games also lead the conference. Five of UC's nine losses this season have been decided by a margin of two points or in overtime.

-Sophomore guard Sean Kilpatrick was named Second Team All-BIG EAST Conference on March 4. He ranked 15th in the league in scoring (14.6 ppg) and tied for first in three-pointers per game (2.45).

-Senior forward Yancy Gates is the sixth player in school history to amass at least 1,400 points and 875 rebounds. He is averaging a team-best 20.5 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the field (16-of-32) during the 2012 BIG EAST Championship.