Men's Basketball Travels to Las Vegas for Global Sports Classic
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Nov. 26, 2008

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GAME 5: Florida State vs. CINCINNATI

Friday, Nov. 28 u 10:30 p.m. EST u Thomas & Mack Center (18,500) u Las Vegas, Nev.

 

THE MATCH-UP: After getting off to its first 4-0 start since 2004-05, the Cincinnati Bearcats (4-0, 0-0 BIG EAST) hit the road for the first time in 2008-09 to play the final two rounds of the Global Sports Classic at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nev. UC will face unbeaten Florida State (5-0, 0-0 ACC) in the third round of the classic on Friday, Nov. 28 at 10:30 p.m. ET. UC knocked off Western Illinois, 74-46, on Nov. 22 in the opening round of the tournament and then Coastal Carolina, 82-56, in the second round on Monday. The Seminoles also swept the same two teams in their opening rounds, beating CCU, 82-70, and WIU, 67-55. This will be the first meeting between Florida State and Cincinnati since the 1990-91 season, when both programs were members of the Metro Conference. The Seminoles own a 21-15 advantage in the series.

 

FIRST FOR FOUR: As the Bearcats have been rebuilding over the last two years, the team has made strides meeting new goals each week. Monday, UC reached another step on the path as it won its fourth consecutive game for the first time under head coach Mick Cronin. The team had won three in a row three other times since 2006-07, including twice last season.

 

ABOUT FLORIDA STATE

·         Florida State is riding a five-game winning streak as it travels to Las Vegas Friday to take on Cincinnati.

·         The Seminoles have five players averaging eight or more points, led by senior guard Toney Douglas' 19.4 points per game. Freshman forward Chris Singleton is also averaging in double-figures, dropping in 11.0 points per game

·         Singleton is also FSU's top rebounder pulling down 8.4 rebounds per night.

·         Florida State's defense has held its opponents to 37.7 percent shooting in its first five games and forced 14.8 turnovers per game. Douglas has forced a majority of those turnovers, picking his opponents' pockets 14 times.

·         FSU's free-throw shooting has played a big part its early-season success as the Seminoles have gotten to the line an average of 28 times per game and knocked down 76.4 percent (107-140). All five starters are shooting over 70 percent from the stripe.

 

IT'S BEEN A WHILE

·         Not only is the current four-game winning streak Cincinnati's first under head coach Mick Cronin, it is the first time UC has won its first four games of the season since 2004-05, its last under Bob Huggins.

·         The last time UC won four games by 20-plus points also came in the 2004-05 season, with victories over Jackson State (95-43), LaSalle (84-63), Miami (OH) (77-53), and Longwood (95-69).

 

KNOCKING IT DOWN

·         One of the most noticeable differences for Cincinnati this season is its ability to shoot the ball. This year, UC is shooting 49.6 percent from the field, an improvement of 7.8 percent from last year (41.8).

·         UC shot 53.2 percent (33.62) from the floor in its last game vs. Coastal Carolina, its highest field-goal percentage since knocking down 34-of-63 shots (54.0 percent) in a 91-90 loss to Wofford during the 2006-07 season.

·         The Bearcats lowest shooting percentage this season was 46.6 percent against Western Illinois (Nov. 22).

·         The individual players that have made the most dramatic improvements are sophomore guard Alvin Mitchell and sophomore center Anthony McClain. Mitchell, who shot 26.3 percent last season, is the Bearcats second-leading scorer, shooting 52.0 percent from the field, while sophomore center Anthony McClain leads all players  in shooting percentage at 75.0 percent (12-16), up 28 percent from last year.

 

PLAY DEFENSE AND REBOUND

·         UC basketball has built its success over the last 20 years on two core values ... defense and rebounding. Head coach Mick Cronin learned it as an assistant at UC and those same values still hold true.

·         This season UC has shown marked improvement in each category through the first four games, holding its opponents to 49.0 points per game and 33.5 percent shooting, while averaging 46.0 rebounds per game and a +17.8 rebounding margin. Last year, UC allowed opponents 63.8 points per contest on .410 shooting.

·         The Bearcats were out rebounded on average last year, 36.8 to 36.5.

 

FINDING MORE DEPTH

·         In 2007-08, the Cincinnati Bearcats relied on their starting five to generate 72.4 percent of the offense (46.8 points per game).

·         Through the first four games of this season, the tide has swung as UC's bench is scoring 34.5 points per game or 43.8 percent of the points.

·         The Bearcats have three players averaging six points or more off the bench, led by the team's second-leading scorer Alvin Mitchell (11.3 ppg).

·         Steve Toyloy, who also leads UC with 6.0 rebounds per game, is second, netting 6.3 points per game as a reserve.

·         So far this season, Cincinnati has 10 players averaging 10 or more minutes per game. Out of those 10, eight are averaging 15 minutes or more

 

MAKING THE BEST OF HIS MINUTES

·         In the first four games, the Cincinnati Bearcats have faced teams with smaller, quicker post players limiting  sophomore center Anthony McClain's minutes to 11.0 per contest.

·         The 7-foot-0 native of Trenton, N.J., has taken full advantage of his minutes, averaging almost one point per minute played (32 points/44 minutes) and almost rebound every other minute (21 rebounds/44 minutes). He is fifth on the team in scoring (8.0 ppg) and tied for third in rebounding (5.3 rpg).

·         In UC's last game vs. Western Illinois, McClain provided a spark off the bench for the Bearcats, scoring a career-high 11 points, swatting a career-high four blocked shots, pulling down seven rebounds (matching a season high), while playing a season-high 14 minutes.

·         Part of the increase in production from his 2.7 ppg and 3.0 rpg last season is his health. Last season, McClain battled through a foot injury that limited his minutes and required off-season surgery.

 

GETTING RIGHT TO BUSINESS

·         With the departure of five veteran players from last year's squad that accounted for 33.6 points per game, Cronin needed to find scoring in the off-season and his Class of 2008-09 has not disappointed.

·         Despite the loss of highly-touted point guard Cashmere Wright for the season, the four new faces, which includes freshmen Dion Dixon, and Yancy Gates, senior transfer Mike Williams, and junior college transfer Steve Toyloy, are averaging 29.7 points a game.

·         More impressively, the group is averaging 21.9 rebounds per game -- almost half of the team's nightly average (47.6 percent).

 

MITCHELL MAKES ADJUSTMENTS

·         After scoring 33 points per game as a senior at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., sophomore guard Alvin Mitchell found the transition to college basketball difficult last season as he averaged 2.8 points and shot 26.3 percent from the floor.

·         After spending a lot of time in the gym during the offseason, Mitchell has found his shooting touch once again and is second on the team in scoring with 11.3 points per game in 20-plus minutes per game off the bench.

·         Against Texas Southern (Nov. 18) and Western Illinois (Nov. 24), Mitchell led the team in scoring each night, improving on his career-high for points with 15 vs. TSU and 19 vs. WIU. In each game, Mitchell knocked down a career-high four 3-pointers.

·         Only two of his 13 baskets this season are not  3-pointers and he is shooting 61.1 percent (11-of-18) from behind the arc.

 

A LONG ROAD BACK

·         Senior forward Mike Williams has battled and persevered during his basketball career since first stepping foot on a college campus at the University of Texas in 2004-05.

·         A highly-recruited McDonald's All-American, Williams spent two seasons at Texas (2004-06) where he played in 58 games and averaged 2.7 points and 3.4 rebounds a game. He helped the Longhorns to an NCAA Tournament berth in 2005-06.

·         After his sophomore season at Texas, Williams decided to transfer to the University of Cincinnati to join Mick Cronin who had just taken over as head coach at his alma mater.

·         After sitting out the 2006-07 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Williams was set to join the Bearcats for the 2007-08 season, but was lost for the year during preseason workouts when he ruptured an Achilles tendon.

·         After missing last year, Williams made his Bearcats debut during UC's exhibition games and on Nov. 16, 2008 vs. South Dakota  -- a span of 973 days -- played in his first regular-season game at Cincinnati. Williams scored eight points and pulled down nine rebounds vs. the Coyotes.

·         Williams has made a dramatic impact on the team in his first four games, averaging 9.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in 25.3 minutes of work. He scored a career-high 12 points vs. Western Illinois (Nov. 22).

 

BLOCK PARTY

·         Part of the improvement in the Bearcats defense this season has been the added dimension of a shot blocker. In 2006-07 and 2007-08, UC was ranked last in the 16-team BIG EAST in blocked shots, averaging 1.93 and 2.28, respectively.

·         This season, Cincinnati has climbed all the way to sixth in the league, swatting away 6.3 shots per game.

·         Sophomore center Anthony McClain leads UC with nine blocks this year, including a career-high four against Coastal Carolina.

·         Freshman Yancy Gates is second on the team with seven.

·         McClain and Gates account for 15 of UC's 25 blocked shots.

 

30/30's

·         The Bearcats' 31-point wins over South Dakota (Nov. 16) and Texas Southern (Nov. 18) to open the year are the first back-to-back 30-plus point victories for UC since the 2001-02 season when the Red and Black defeated Louisiana-Monroe by 36 points (102-66) on Dec. 20, 2001, and Mississippi State by 34 points (90-56) on Dec. 21, 2001.

·         The 31-point wins also equal the largest margin of victory under head coach Mick Cronin. Cronin won his Cincinnati debut at Fifth Third Arena on Nov.10, 2006 with a 70-39 victory over Howard.

 

BEARCATS JOIN FIELD FOR 2009 MAUI INVITATIONAL

·         The EA Sports Maui Invitational announced last week that the University of Cincinnati will replace Louisville in the 2009 tournament field.

·         The Bearcats join former national champions Arizona, Maryland, and Wisconsin along with Colorado, Gonzaga, Vanderbilt and host Chaminade University of Honolulu.

·         The invitational, which turns 26-years old next season, will take place Thanksgiving Week 2009 in the Lahaina Civic Center.

·         It will be Cincinnati's first appearance in the Maui Invitational.

 

VAUGHN A COUSY AWARD NOMINEE

·         Junior guard Deonta Vaughn has been named one of 35 Division I nominees for the Bob Cousy Award presented by The Hartford.

·         The award is given annually to the top collegiate male point guard spanning across all divisions within the game by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. 

·         The selection criteria emphasize leadership, team work, success, and fundamentals as being critical parts for the game of basketball as a point guard. 

·         Nominations are solicited from across the country from head coaches and the winner is selected by a Blue Ribbon Selection Committee.

·         Vaughn joins fellow BIG EAST Conference nominees: Edgar Sosa (Louisville), Jonny Flynn (Syracuse), Levance Fields (Pittsburgh), Malik Boothe (St. John's), and Scottie Reynolds (Villanova).

 

HOME SWEET HOME

·         The Bearcats open the season with just three road games in their first 14 contests before starting BIG EAST Conference play on Jan. 4 at Marquette.

·         Two of the three road games are part of the Global Sports Classic. After playing home games vs. Western Illinois (Nov. 22) and Coastal Carolina (Nov. 24), the Bearcats travel to Las Vegas this weekend for the final two rounds at the Thomas & Mack Center where they face Florida State (Nov. 28) and the winner of the UNLV-Cal game (Nov. 29).

·         The other lone pre-conference road game is at NCAA national runner-up Memphis on Dec. 29.

·         UC is 258-50 (.838) in games at Fifth Third Arena since the building opened in 1989-90.

·         Under Mick Cronin, UC is 24-15 at home (.615).

 

WRIGHT OUT FOR SEASON

·         For the second year in a row, the University of Cincinnati will go the season minus one of its top players as highly-touted freshman point guard Cashmere Wright suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during preseason practices.

·         Wright underwent surgery to repair his ACL and will miss the season as he goes through rehabilitation over the next 6-8 months.

·         Wright, a 6-0, 175-pound native of Savannah, Ga., was a highly-regarded high school prospect who was listed as one of the nation's Top 100 players by many of the national recruiting services and was listed as the No. 12 point guard in 2007-08 by Rivals.com.

 

BEARCATS INK ONE IN EARLY SIGNING PERIOD

·         Sean Kilpatrick, a native of White Plains, N.Y., signed a national letter of intent during the first week of the early signing period to play for UC next year.

·         Kilpatrick, a 6-foot-5 guard/forward was a three-time  all-league and all-section selection at White Plains Senior High School and was the school's second-leading scorer. He averaged 25.6 ppg as a senior.

·         He is is playing for Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., this season and averaged 23.0 ppg in his first five games.

 

FAST-PACED RACE

·         Junior guard Deonta Vaughn became the 45th player in UC basketball history to reach 1,000 points for his career when he scored 12 points in the season opener vs. South Dakota on Nov. 16.

·         Vaughn equaled Jim Ard (1968-70) as the sixth-fastest player to reach the 1000-point plateau, doing it in 63 games.

·         As remarkable as it would be, Bearcat great Oscar Robertson scored his first 1,000 points in his first 29 games (first game of second season), averaging over 30 points a night.

·         Following is a list of the 10 fastest players to 1,000 career points in UC history.

 

Rk.  Player        Seasons Gms to 1000

1.   Oscar Robertson (3) 1958-60 29

2.   Lloyd Batts (3) 1972-74         52

3.   Ron Bohnam (3) 1962-64      58

4.   Danny Fortson (3) 1995-97   59

       Derrek Dickey (3) 1971-73    59

5.   Herb Jones (2) 1991-92        61

6.   Jim Ard  (3) 1968-70            63

       Deonta Vaughn (2) 2007-pres. 63

8.   Jack Twyman (4) 1952-55     66

9.   Rick Roberson (3) 1967-69    66

10.  Paul Hogue (3) 1960-62        68

       Jim Holstein (3) 1950-52       68

 

500-POINT MAN

·         Junior guard Deonta Vaughn finished last season with 554 points and was the 32nd player in Cincinnati history to record 500 points or more in a season.

·         He was the first Bearcats basketball player to do so since James White and Eric Hicks each topped the mark in 2005-06.

·         The top three single seasons in the program's history belong to College Basketball's Player of the Century, Oscar Robertson, who scored over 900 points in three straight seasons (1957-60).

 

RETURN TO POSTSEASON

·         Cincinnati played in the postseason for the first time in two years as it took on Bradley University of the Missouri Valley Conference in the inaugural, 16-team College Basketball Invitational (CBI) last spring.

·         UC's last postseason appearance before the CBI came during the 2005-06 season when the Bearcats played in the National Invitational Tournament, advancing to the quarterfinals.

·         It was the Bearcats 34th postseason tournament appearance. UC has made 24 appearances in the NCAA Tournament and nine in the NIT.

 

A "BIG" EAST IMPROVEMENT

·         Last season, the Bearcats made a six-win improvement in conference wins, going from two victories in 2006-07 to eight in 2007-08.

·         The eight wins equal UC's inaugural BIG EAST season when it went 8-8 in the old 16-game format.

·         The Bearcats' six-win improvement is tied for the ninth-largest single-season turnaround in BIG EAST history with six other teams.

 

COASTAL CAROLINA - NOV. 24

·         The last time UC opened the season with four victories was during the 2004-05 season when the Bearcats began the season with 11 straight wins.

·         UC scored 21 points off turnovers to CCU's eight, forcing 15 Chanticleer turnovers.

·         The score was tied at 21 apiece 10 minutes into the game, the first time this season UC has not led at the 10 minute mark of the first half. Sophomore Alvin Mitchell put UC up for the first time against CCU, 24-21, when he landed a 3-pointer with 9:45 on the clock. The Bearcats never trailed after taking that lead.

·         UC went on a 9-0 run to take a 27-21 lead as sophomore Larry Davis, Mitchell and junior Deonta Vaughn each hit 3-pointers over a 36-second span.

·         UC gave up 37 points in the first half, the most this season. After shooting 70 percent in the first seven minutes, UC forced the Chanticleers to 45 percent over the final 13 minutes of the half and 23.3 percent in the second half.

·         The Bearcats opened the second half on a 17-0 run, pushing out to a 62-37 lead with 11:33 to play in the game.

·         UC did not allow CCU to score a field goal for the first 11:26 of the second half.

·         UC matched its season high in points, scoring 82 points in the win - the same points total reached in UC's 82-51 victory over Texas Southern.

·         After scoring seven points against Western Illinois, Deonta Vaughn scored eight points in the first 11 minutes of the game. He finished the game with a season-high 17 points on 50 percent shooting from the floor. Vaughn connected on a season high 4-triples.

·         Larry Davis notched a career-high four 3-pointers and finished the game with a season-high 14 points.

·         Senior Branden Miller landed his first bucket of the season, becoming the 10th UC player to score against CCU, a feat the Bearcats have accomplished every game this season.

·         Sophomore Rashad Bishop netted a season-high nine points and matched his season best with six rebounds.

 

WESTERN ILLINOIS NOTES - NOV. 22

·         Cincinnati scored over 70 points in three consecutive games for the first time since the 2005-06 season, when UC scored 76 points versus Minnesota, 86 points versus Charlotte, and 73 points versus Syracuse.

·         UC won three consecutive games for the first time since defeating Rutgers (Feb. 9), St. John's (Feb. 13), and USF (Feb. 20) last season.

·         10 players scored for the Bearcats in the win, the second consecutive game with 10 players scoring.

·         UC outrebounded WIU by 30, 54-24, recording its third straight 40-plus rebounding game and its first 50-plus rebounding game since pulling down 52 rebounds at Rutgers on Feb. 2, 2008. Last season, UC had only eight 40-plus rebounding games for the season.

·         UC shot 71.4 percent from the free throw line, the first time since March 12, 2008 that the Bearcats shot better than 70 percent from the charity stripe (72.2% vs. Pittsburgh).

·         The Bearcats held Western Illinois to 15 points in the first half, matching the lowest point total an opponent has scored in the first half the last eight years. UC has held an opponent to 15 first-half points three other times since the 2000-01 season, against Tennessee Martin on Nov. 11, 2006 (a 67-49 victory), in a 74-48 win vs. USF on Jan. 27, 2004, and in a 66-61 overtime win against Louisville on Feb 21, 2004.

·         UC forced Western Illinois to 27.9 percent shooting for the game, the lowest it has held an opponent in field goal percentage since holding West Virginia to 20 percent last season.

·         UC opened the game on a 12-0 run, preventing the Leathernecks from scoring until the 13:43 mark of the game and later went on a 16-4 run over 5:32, pushing out to a 36-10 lead.

·         Cincinnati outscored Western Illinois 39-15 off the bench in the game and is now averaging 37.7 points per game off the bench. Sophomore Alvin Mitchell is the Bearcats sixth man and the team's leading scorer, averaging 12.3 points per game as a sub.

·         Sophomore guard Alvin Mitchell scored his first two-point bucket of the season at the 18:43 mark of the second half against WIU. Prior to the two-pointer this season, Mitchell scored a total of 27 points, all of them 3-pointers. He scored a game-high 19 points, giving him back-to-back games in double figures, and back-to-back games notching his career high in points and triples in a game (4).

·         Senior forward Mike Williams notched a UC career-high 12 points, shooting 5-for-8 from the field and a perfect 2-for-2 from the free throw line.

·         Junior forward Steve Toyloy recorded a game and career-high eight rebounds.

·         Sophomore center Anthony McClain recorded a career-high four blocks and shot perfect for the game, hitting 3-for-3 from the field and 2-for-2 from the charity stripe for eight points.

·         Freshman forward Yancy Gates scored 10 points, his second double-digit scoring game in his first three games of his college career.