Rivalry Renewed in NIT - UC vs. UD

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GOBEARCATSDOTCOM
Men's Basketball |

March 21, 2010

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Game 35: NIT - Second Round vs. Dayton

Monday, March 22 | 9 p.m. | Fifth Third Arena (13,176) | Cincinnati, Ohio | TV: ESPN | Radio: 700 WLW

 

THE MATCH-UP

The Cincinnati Bearcats (19-15, 7-11 BIG EAST), the No. 2-seed in the “Illinois” bracket of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), face No. 2-seed Dayton (21-12, 8-8 A-10) in the second round at home in Fifth Third Arena on Monday, March 22 at 9 p.m. after knocking off  Weber State, 76-62 on Wednesday in the first round. The Flyers advanced to play UC after beating Illinois State, 63-42. The game will be broadcast on ESPN as part of an NIT doubleheader with Ron Franklin (play-by-play) and Mark Gottfried (analyst) on the call. Dan Hoard (pxp) and Chuck Machock (analyst) will call the game on 700 WLW.

 

THE SERIES

After a four-year hiatus, the University of Cincinnati will meet Dayton for the 90th time — UC’s second-oldest and third longest rivalry in program history. The Bearcats own a 59-30 advantage in the series and have won 14 of the last 16 meetings dating back to the 1989-90 season — UC’s first in Fifth Third Arena. Cincinnati won the last outing on Dec. 22, 2005, 81-63, in the Las Vegas Holiday Classic behind a combined 40 points by Devan Downey (21 pts.) and James White (19 pts.)

 

SCOUTING THE FLYERS

·         Dayton is 21-12 overall and finished seventh during the regular season in the Atlantic 10 Conference with a 8-8 record.

·         UD advanced to the second round of the National Invitation Tournament after knocking off Illinois State, 63-42, on Wednesday.

·         The Flyers have a record of 3-2 in their last three games with its other win coming vs. George Washington, 70-60, in the first round of the A-10 tournament. Dayton was knocked out of the tournament losing to Xavier, 78-73 in the quarterfinals.

·         WSU is ranked 151 in the nation in scoring, averaging 69.5 points per game, with two players averaging in double figures.

·         Junior forward Chris Wright, the 2010 Atlantic 10 Most Improved Player of the Year and a first-team all-conference selection, leads the team in points and rebounds at 14.0 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.

·         Sophomore forward Chris Johnson is second on the team in scoring and rebounds, bringing his 11.5 ppg  and 6.8 rpg off the bench.

·         Senior guard London Warren, who posted a team best 137 assists (4.2 apg) this season, was also named to the A-10’s all-Defensive team.

·         As a team, UD plays strong defensively, ranking 43rd in the nation in scoring defense (61.7 ppg) and 28th in field goal defense (.396).

·         The Flyers also are among the nation’s top rebounding teams, sitting 21st in the NCAA in rebounding margin (+6.1), nine spots behind Cincinnati (12th/+6.6).

·         Dayton shoots 34.1 percent from 3-point range with four player connecting at or above 35.0 percent, led by Rob Lowery (.374/40-of-107).

 

NIT HISTORY

·         Cincinnati is playing in its 10th National Invitational Tournament in program history (1951, 1955, 1957, 1970, 1974, 1985, 1990, 1991, 2006, 2010).

·         The Bearcats are 8-9 all-time in NIT play, including a mark of 6-2 at home.

·         The Bearcats made their first postseason appearance as a program in the 1951 NIT under head coach John Wiethe. That season, UC finished with a final record of 18-4, losing to St. Bonaventure in the first round, 70-67, in double overtime.

·         The team’s best finish in the NIT was a third-place finish in 1955 under legendary coach George Smith. After losing to Duquesne, 65-51, in the semifinals, Cincinnati knocked off St. Francis (Pa.), 95-91, in the consolation game. Jack Twyman scored 29 points in the game, the most points by a Bearcat in a NIT game.

·         UC last played in the NIT in 2006 making it to the quarterfinals where it lost to South Carolina, 65-62, under interim head coach Andy Kennedy.

 

POSTSEASON COACHING EXPERIENCE

·         Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin, who owns a 130-91 overall record, is making his 10th postseason appearance as a college coach (six as an assistant at UC [4] and Louisville [2]) and fourth as a head coach.

·         He guided Murray State to two NCAA appearances in his three seasons with the Racers.

·         Cronin is 1-3 as a head coach in postseason play, losing first round games in the NCAA Tournament in 2004 and 2006 at Murray State and an opening round game of the College Basketball Invitational to Bradley in 2008.

 

MARCH 17 —NIT FIRST ROUND • WEBER STATE

·         An 11-0 run from over a 2:20 stretch late in the second half pushed Cincinnati’s eight-point lead to 19 and the Bearcats went on to defeat Weber State, 76-62.

·         The Bearcats improved to 3-0 vs. Big Sky opponents and 1-0 all-time against Weber State.

·         In its 10th appearance in the NIT, UC moved its NIT record to 8-9 with the win over Weber State.

·         The win gives Cincinnati its 19th of the season. Under head coach Mick Cronin, UC has improved its win total in each of his four seasons (2006-07, 11 wins; 2007-08, 13 wins; 2008-09, 18 wins; 2009-10; 19 wins).

·         UC forced Weber State into 23 turnovers, the first time this season that Cincinnati has forced 20-plus turnovers by its opponent.

·         The Bearcats scored 22 points off turnovers in the first half against Weber State. Coming into the game, Cincinnati’s most points off turnovers in a game was 22 against Vanderbilt (Nov. 23) and Providence (Jan. 30). UC finished with 28 points off turnovers for the game.

·         The Bearcats hit 15-of-16 shots (93.8 percent) from the free throw line. It is the first time UC has shot above 90 percent from the line since Jan. 4, 2009 at Marquette.

·         The Bearcats recorded 11 steals against the Wildcats, the most steals by UC this season.

·         A 16-4 run by the Wildcats over a 7:01 stretch cut what was a 20-point deficit to eight points, 56-48, with 8:03 to play.

·         A 3-pointer by junior Larry Davis as time expired in the first half sent Cincinnati into halftime with a 40-25 lead. The 40 first-half points are the most first-half points scored by the Bearcats since scoring 44 in the first half against Providence on Jan. 30.

·         Leading 20-19, UC hit four straight field goals from the 6:29 mark of the first half to the 5:22 mark, sparking a 17-0 run that opened up an 18-point advantage, 37-19, with 1:46 remaining in the first half.

·         Weber State missed its first five shots from the floor over the first 4:23, but the Wildcats hit their next four shots over the next 2:55 to take their first lead of the game, 10-9, with 12:41 to play in the first half.

·         Senior Deonta Vaughn posted a team-high 16 points and added five rebounds and seven assists.

·         A Vaughn assist on a 3-pointer by Stephenson with 18:00 to play in the first half moved Vaughn past Eddie Lee (1976-80) into first place on Cincinnati’s all-time assist list. Vaughn has 507 assists in his career.

·         Vaughn hit a 3-pointer with 1:46 on the clock in the first half to tie Darnell Burton (1993-97) atop UC’s career 3-pointers chart. A trey by Vaughn with 18:14 remaining in the game moved him past Burton as UC’s career 3-point leader and he finished the game with 309 career 3-pointers.

·         Freshman Lance Stephenson led all players with 12 points in the first half on 4-of-6 shooting. Stephenson finished with 14 points.

 

FINDING THE RIGHT FIVE

·         This season head coach Mick Cronin has used 16 different starting lineups in 34 games.

·         At the start of the BIG EAST Championship, Cronin reverted back to the starting five of guards Deonta Vaughn, Lance Stephenson, and Jaquon Parker and forwards Yancy Gates and Ibrahima Thomas. Parker was inserted into the lineup to replace suspended forward Rashad Bishop.

·         Overall, UC is 3-2 this season using that lineup, but is 3-1 since the start of the BIG EAST Championship. This season lineup started in a 68-60 loss at Louisville on Jan. 24.

·         This is the first time this season Cincinnati has used the same lineup in four straight games.

·         Using this lineup, Cincinnati is averaging 65.0 points per game with the starters accounting for 74 percent of the scoring (48.2 ppg). Stephenson leads the way with 14.0 ppg. The Bearcats are outrebounding their opponent 42.0-32.2 in these five games.

 

KEEP ON IMPROVING

·         With the 76-62 win over Weber State in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament, Cincinnati picked up its 19th win of the season, marking the fourth straight season under head coach Mick Cronin that the Bearcats have improved on their win total from the year before (2006-07, 11 wins; 2007-08, 13 wins; 2008-09, 18 wins; 2009-10; 19 wins).

·         With another victory, UC would post 20 wins for the first time since 2005-06, its first season in the BIG EAST Conference (21-13).

·         The 2005-06 team was coached by then-interim head coach Andy Kennedy and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NIT where it lost to Minnesota, 65-62.

 

TRIPLE DOWN

·         After shooting 27.0 percent (31-of-122) from behind the 3-point line in its seven games prior to Weber State, Cincinnati found its shooting touch vs. the Wildcats in the opening round of the NIT connecting on a season-high 11 3-pointers on 28 attempts (.392). The 11 3-point baskets are a new UC NIT record. Twice before the Bearcats had hit 10 3-pointers in an NIT game, the last was in 2006 vs. Charlotte.

·         Senior guard Deonta Vaughn connected on 4-of-9 triples, scoring 12 of his team-high 16 points vs. Weber State.

·         Seven different Bearcats made 3-pointers vs. Weber State (Vaughn – 4, Stephenson – 2, Thomas -1, Parker – 1, Wright – 1, Davis – 1, Wilks – 1).

·         UC is 6-4 this season when making seven or more 3-pointers in a games and 23-21 in Cronin’s four seasons.

 

HOLDING ON TO LEADS

·         One thing that is apparent in Mick Cronin coached teams at Cincinnati is that his squads do not relinquish leads late in the game very often.

·         Since Cronin took over the program in 2006-07, UC is 55-7 (.887) when leading with five minutes remaining in the game.

·         This season UC is 18-2 when leading with five minutes remaining with the two losses coming at Xavier and St. John’s.

·         Cincinnati has a tough time rallying from deficits as well owning a mark of 3-58 (.049) when trailing with five minutes remaining in the last four years.

 

LENDING A HELPING HAND

·         The Cincinnati Bearcats dished out 21 assists on 25 made baskets vs. Weber State, marking just the fifth this season UC has posted 20 or more assists in a game.

·         The 21 assists equal the third highest total this season (highest - 27 vs. Toledo, Nov. 18).

·         Senior guard Deonta Vaughn, the team’s top assist man (3.5 apg), handed out seven assists vs. Weber State, topping his six combined assists in three BIG EAST Championship games.

 

BACK ON TRACK

·         Free throw shooting has not been a strength of the Bearcats this season at 63.0 percent, ranking 319th in the NCAA out of 334 teams ranked.

·         Since the start of postseason play at the BIG EAST Championship, Cincinnati has seen a great deal of improvement, shooting 73.6 percent (53-of-72).

·         In UC’s first NIT game vs. Weber State, the Bearcats shot a season-high 93.8 percent (15-of-16, minimum of 10 attempts).

·         Deonta Vaughn has converted 11-of-12 attempts during the last four games for a team-high 91.7 percent.

·         Yancy Gates, who was 22-of-41 (.537) during BIG EAST play, is 9-of-12 (.750) in postseason action.

 

STEPHENSON NAMED BIG EAST ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

·         Two days after being selected as one of two unanimous selections to the BIG EAST Conference All-Rookie Team, University of Cincinnati freshman guard Lance Stephenson (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln) was named the league’s Rookie of the Year.

·         Stephenson is the first UC men’s basketball player to earn the distinction since the Bearcats joined the BIG EAST in 2005-06. He joins DerMarr Johnson (1999-00 – Conference USA), Danny Fortson (1994-95 – Great Midwest Conference), and Dontonio Wingfield (1993-94 – Great Midwest Conference) as the only players in program history to earn freshman/rookie/newcomer of the year honors.

·         The preseason BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, Stephenson led all BIG EAST freshmen in scoring in overall (12.0 ppg) and conference-only games (12.1 ppg). He also finished in the Top 5 overall among league freshmen in rebounds (5.3 rpg/4th), steals (1.0 spg/5th), and assists (2.4 apg/4th).

·         Four times this season, the 6-foot-5 guard from Brooklyn, N.Y., was named BIG EAST Rookie of the Week, the most by any incoming player.

·         Stephenson won the weekly award the last two weeks of the regular season after averaging 16.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game over UC’s last four contests. He also added 11 assists and five steals during the stretch.

 

STEPHENSON NAMED TO BIG EAST ALL-ROOKIE TEAM

·         University of Cincinnati freshman guard Lance Stephenson (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln) was one of two unanimous selections to the 2010 BIG EAST Conference All-Rookie team.

·         Stephenson becomes the third Bearcat to earn the distinction since UC began play in the BIG EAST in 2005-06, joining teammates Deonta Vaughn (2006-07) and Yancy Gates (2008-09).

·         He was joined on the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team by Alex Oriakhi, UConn; Vincent Council, Providence; Dane Miller, Rutgers; Brandon Triche, Syracuse; Maalik Wayns, Villanova.

 

BATTLES AT THE TOP

·         To improve in the BIG EAST standings, teams will face some of the nation’s toughest competition and many of the top team’s in the polls.

·         This season, Cincinnati battled throughout the season, looking to climb up the standings and into the national rankings, but suffered several close set-backs along the way.

·         Of the Bearcats 15 losses, 11 have been decided by eight points or less.

·         Despite a record of 0-6 vs. the Top 5 teams in the BIG EAST, UC lost five of the games (Villanova - 4; West Virginia - 6 and 3; Pittsburgh - 3; Marquette - 3) by a combined 19 points.

·         UC also held second-half leads in four of the games, including a six-point lead over Syracuse.

 

RESUME BUILDING — UC VS. RANKED OPPONENTS

·         The Bearcats finished the BIG EAST Championship ranked No. 65 in the RPI (as of March 14) thanks to having the nation’s ninth toughest schedule, which includes 13 teams in the RPI Top 50.

·         The Bearcats 2009-10 schedule included 15 games (4-11 record) vs. 12 teams that made the NCAA Tournament and another seven games (3-4 record) vs. five teams in the NIT.

·         UC is 3-6 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 losses were to No. 23 Pittsburgh, 74-71, on Jan. 4 (Cincinnati’s first loss at home this season), to No. 3 Syracuse, 71-54, on Feb. 7, No. 10/8 West Virginia, 74-68, on Feb. 27 and, 54-51, on March 11, No. 9 Villanova, 77-73, on March 2, and No. 19 Georgetown on March 6, 74-47.

·         Cincinnati is 114-174 (.396) all-time vs. opponents ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, including a 23-23 (.500) 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 6-22 vs. ranked opponents under Cronin.

 

FIFTH THIRD ADVANTAGE

·         The Bearcats are 279-59 (.825) in games at Fifth Third Arena since the building opened in 1989-90.

·         Under Mick Cronin, UC is 42-24 in Fifth Third (.636).

·         UC is 13-4 at home and 12-4 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 75.5 points per game at home led by Lance Stephenson’s 11.9 points per game and Deonta Vaughn’s 11.5 average.

 

TOUGH TIMES ON THE ROAD

·         The Bearcats are 2-9 in away games this season and have a record of 9-36 (.200) in road games under Mick Cronin.

·         Both of Cincinnati’s road wins have come in conference play. The first road win of the season came 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.

·         The second road win of the season came against Connecticut on Feb. 13, when UC defeated UConn, 60-48 in Hartford.

·         UC has shot 40.0 percent and averaged 61.3 points per game on the road this season compared to 48.0 percent shooting and 75.8 points in Fifth Third Arena.

·         Cincinnati’s 3-point shooting struggles the most on the road as the Bearcats are converting just 52-of-201 (.259) treys away from home, compared to 34.0 percent at home (86-of-253).

·         Taking care of the ball is also a weakness on the road as UC is giving up 14.4 turnovers per game, compared to its season average of 13.6.

 

NEEDING TO FIND CONSISTENCY

·         After going 3-8 in its last 11 games of the regular season, one thing the Bearcats needed to find was consistency.

·         In the win over Providence on Jan. 30, 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 following eight losses, the same UC offense strung together just 62.5 points per game on 41.0 percent shooting.

·         Defensively, UC was solid most of the season, limiting opponents to an average of 66.5 points per contest on 41.1 percent from the field. That number jumped considerably in the last 11 games as opponents averaged 72.4 points on 45.0 percent shooting.

·         Throughout the season, UC was one of the nation’s top rebounding teams averaging 38.8 rebounds per game and a +6.1 rebounding margin, but in the last 11 games of the regular-season, UC averaged just 34.9 boards per game while its opponents grabbed 33.2 rebounds per game — a +1.7 rebounding margin for UC.

·         At the BIG EAST Championship, the defensive and rebounding numbers improved dramatically as UC’s defense held opponents to 62.7 points per game and just 40.4 percent shooting.

·         On the glass, the Bearcats averaged 47.3 rebounds per game and posted a +13.3 rebounding margin.

 

HOLDING ON TO THE BALL

·         The Bearcats have struggled at times this season holding on to the basketball (13.1 turnovers per game) and rank 13th in the BIG EAST in turnover margin (-1.3).

·         After committing 16 turnovers in the regular-season finale at Georgetown, Cincinnati turned the ball over 32 times in three BIG EAST Championship games (10.7 turnovers per game).

·         While forcing a season-high 23 turnover vs. Weber State in the first round of the NIT, UC committed 14 miscues vs. the Wildcats — a +9 turnover margin.

 

ANOTHER POST THREAT

·         Junior transfer Ibrahima Thomas has played 27 games for the Bearcats after sitting out the first seven games of the year due to NCAA transfer rules.

·         The Dakar, Senegal native has started to emerge as a post threat for the Bearcats over the last 12 games, scoring 6.3 points per game and is the team’s top rebounder (7.2 rpg).

·         Thomas collected the first double-double of his UC career with 10 points and 11 rebounds against UConn on Feb. 13.

·         In the Bearcats first round game of the BIG EAST Championship vs. Rutgers, Thomas pulled down a career-high 13 rebounds, including 10 on the defensive end.

·         Thomas has also seen increased minutes over the last 12 contests averaging 23.3 mpg after averaging just 13.5 mpg over his first 15 games.

·          

 

 


 

 

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