March 12, 2017
Cincinnati Game Notes | WatchESPN | 700 WLW
Second-seed Cincinnati (29-4) looks for its first conference tournament title since 2004 on Sunday when it battles top-seed SMU (29-4) in the title game of the 2017 Frontier Communications American Championship at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. Tipoff is set for 3:15 p.m. ET on ESPN and 700 WLW.
Sunday marks Cincinnati’s first appearance in a league tournament championship game since the 2012 BIG EAST Championship, when the Bearcats fell 50-44 to Louisville.
The Bearcats have won four in a row and seven of their last eight after outlasting UConn, 81-71, in a semifinals matchup Saturday. Gary Clark scored 25 points, made 15 of 16 free throw attempts and pulled down a game-high nine rebounds while chipping a tooth in the physical contest.
Jacob Evans scored 21 points with a trio of three and 8 of 10 shooting from the charity stripe. Troy Caupain added 18 points and five assists.
SMU won its 15th consecutive game and advanced to the league tournament championship game for the second time in three years after posting a 70-59 semifinal win over UCF earlier Saturday. Sterling Brown scored a game-high 22 points, Semi Ojeleye had 17 points and Shake Milton had 16 points.
UC and SMU split a pair a regular-season meetings this year with the home team winning each contest. The Bearcats claimed 66-64 victory at Fifth Third Arena on Jan. 12 while SMU grabbed a 60-51 win at Moody Coliseum on Feb. 12.
UC owns a 7-4 lead in its series with SMU, including a 6-0 mark in Cincinnati. SMU leads 3-1 in Dallas and 1-0 at neutral sites. SMU claimed an 89-84 decision on Mar. 12, 1966 at the NCAA Midwest regional final.
// GAME AT A GLANCE
SERIES INFO: 12th meeting; Cincinnati leads 7-4 overall; SMU leads 3-1 in Dallas and 1-0 at neutral sites; UC leads 6-0 in Cincinnati.
LAST MEETING: SMU won 60-51 on Feb. 12 at Moody Coliseum in Dallas, Texas
STREAK: SMU - 1
Mick Cronin is in his 11th season at Cincinnati (236-133); 14th season overall (305-157)
Tim Jankovich is in his first full season at SMU (38-4); 10th season overall (195-125)
AP/USA TODAY RANKINGS (MAR. 6): Cincinnati (15/18); SMU (12/15)
RADIO: 700 WLW; Dan Hoard provides play-by-play with color analyst Chuck Machock
TV: ESPN; Dave O’Brien provides play-by-play with color analyst Doris Burke. Andy Katz reports.
UC TWITTER PAGES: @GoBearcats and @GoBearcatsMBB
// CINCINNATI STORYLINES
Cincinnati is looking for its first league tournament title since 2004 (Conference USA).
The Bearcats’ 29 wins this season are tied for the second most in school history (along with 1962, 1992 and 2000), two games shy of the school record set by the 2001-02 unit (31-4).
The 2016-17 Bearcats tied the school record for conference wins in a season (1999-2000: 16-0 in Conference USA).
The Bearcats have won at least 26 games in four of the last seven years.
Cincinnati ranked first or second among American teams in 10 of 17 team statistical categories entering the postseason.
Troy Caupain (second team all-conference, sportsmanship award), Kyle Washington (second team all-conference) and Jarron Cumberland (all-rookie team, co-sixth man of the year) earned league honors from The American’s coaches this week.
Caupain needs two more assists to become Cincinnati’s all-time assists leader. He enters the SMU game with 510 assists, behind only Deonta Vaughn (511 assists from 2007-10).
Caupain joined Vaughn on Friday as the only two players in school history with more than 1,200 points and 500 assists in a career.
Jacob Evans is averaging a team-high 20.5 points, shooting 76.5 percent (13 of 17) from the field and 100 percent from beyond the arc (6 of 6) during the 2017 American Championship.
Cincinnati’s 38 made free throws against UConn in the semifinals on Saturday tied for the fourth most in a game in school history (with 38 made against UAB in 1997-98) and were the most since a school-record 42 against Louisville in 2002-03.
Cincinnati has scored 70 or more points in 20 games this season, a Cronin-era record.
Cincinnati is one of eight teams to appear in the NCAA Tournament each of the last six seasons (along with Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Michigan State, North Carolina, VCU and Wisconsin).
// SERIES HISTORY
Cincinnati owns a 7-4 lead in its series with SMU. Cincinnati leads 6-0 in the Queen City. SMU leads 3-1 in Dallas and 1-0 at neutral sites.
Cincinnati claimed a 66-64 home win over SMU earlier this season on Jan. 12 at Fifth Third Arena in Cincinnati. The Mustangs earned a 60-51 win on Feb. 12 at Moody Coliseum in Dallas.
The Bearcats have won five of eight games since both teams joined The American. The home team has won seven of those eight meetings with the lone exception being UC’s 62-54 win at Moody Coliseum on Feb. 2, 2015.
The series began with a 59-46 UC win at Music Hall in Cincinnati on Dec. 5, 1947.
SMU won the second meeting, an 89-84 decision on March 12, 1966 at the NCAA Midwest regional final.
Prior to membership in The American the schools last met on the hardwood on Jan. 15, 1975 with UC claiming a 106-74 victory at the Armory Fieldhouse in Cincinnati.
// BEARCAT TIP INS
Troy Caupain needs two assists Sunday to become the school leader in career assists, passing Deonta Vaughn (511 from 2007-10).
With six assists Friday against Tulsa, Caupain become only the second player in school history to amass at least 1,200 points and 500 assists in a career, joining Deonta Vaughn (1,885 points and a school-best 511 assists from 2007-10).
Caupain has 1,277 points and 510 assists entering Sunday’s SMU game.
Jacob Evans has scored 20 or more points in both league tournament games this season. He posted 20 points against Tulsa on Friday and 21 against UConn on Saturday. He has score 20 or more points in a team-high six games this season.
Cincinnati’s 38 made free throws against UConn in the semifinals on Saturday tied for the fourth most in a game in school history (with 38 made against UAB in 1997-98) and were the most since making a school-record 42 against Louisville in 2002-03.
NOTES ON THE DEFENSE: Cincinnati has held 26 of its 33 opponents this season under 70 points and held 18 foes below 40 percent field goal shooting.
Since UC started its run of six consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament (starting with the 2010-11 season), the Bearcats have allowed opponents to score 70 or more points in only 14.2 percent of their games (34 of 240).
OFFENSIVE NUMBERS UP: Cincinnati’s offensive numbers are improved this season. The Bearcats are shooting 45.9 percent from the field. That’s the best percentage by a Bearcats’ squad since 2001-02 (.467) and the sixth best in school history behind 1999-2000 (.480), 1996-97 (.496), 1977-78 (.503) and 1959-60 (.511).
The Bearcats are averaging 75.0 points this season, the most by a UC squad since 2004-05 (75.9).
Cincinnati have scored 70 or more points in 20 games this season, a Cronin-era high.
Cincinnati is 4-4 all-time at the XL Center, including a 2-1 in American Championship contests.
The Bearcats have won their last three games at the XL Center, earning a 58-57 win over the Huskies on Jan. 28, 2016 and posting wins over Tulsa (80-61) and UConn (81-61) during the 2017 American Championship.
Cincinnati's win on Saturday marked its first semifinal victory since a 71-68 victory over No. 2 Syracuse at the 2014 BIG EAST Championship at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Cincinnati’s win on Friday marked its first victory in the quarterfinal round since a 61-58 win over UCF on Mar. 13, 2014 in Memphis, Tenn.