Cheikh Mbodj leads UC with 16 blocks this season.
Nov. 29, 2012
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The No. 17/16 University of Cincinnati men's basketball team plays host to Alabama in the SEC/BIG EAST Challenge on Saturday at Fifth Third Arena. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. ET. The contest will be televised by ESPN2 and can be heard locally on WEBN 102.7 FM.
Both teams enter Saturday's game undefeated. The Bearcats (6-0) capped off a perfect record in November defeating Oregon 77-66 in the championship game of the Global Sports Classic in Las Vegas on Nov. 24. Four UC players scored in double figures led by a game-high 17 points from tournament most valuable player Cashmere Wright. Sean Kilpatrick, also named to the all-tournament team, scored 16 points as did JaQuon Parker. Titus Rubles added 13 points, included 10 key points in the second half to solidify the win.
Alabama (6-0) knocked off Lamar 75-47 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Tuesday. Rodney Cooper scored 17 points and eight rebounds to lead the Crimson Tide. Alabama, currently listed among teams receiving votes just outside the Top 25 polls, have held their last two opponents under 50 points.
Series Info: Third meeting; Series tied 1-1. UC leads 1-0 at neutral sites. Alabama leads 1-0 in Tuscaloosa.
Last Meeting: UC won 77-74 in overtime in the semifinal round of the Puerto Rico Holiday Classic on Dec. 22, 2000.
Coaches: Mick Cronin is in his seventh season at Cincinnati (119-88); 10th season overall (188-112).
Anthony Grant is in his fourth season at Alabama (69-39); seventh season overall (145-64).
Rankings: Cincinnati is ranked No. 17 in the AP and No. 16 in the USA Today polls. Alabama is not ranked.
Radio: 102.7 WEBN-FM; Dan Hoard provides play-by-play with color analyst Chuck Machock. Mo Egger produces.
TV: ESPN2; Jon Sciambi provides play-by-play with color analyst LaPhonso Ellis. Matt Bartley produces.
UC Twitter Page: @GoBEARCATS
-The Bearcats return three starters and 10 lettermen from last season's squad that posted a 26-11 overall record; appeared in their first BIG EAST Championship title game and returned to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time since 2001. The squad set school records for best finish in the BIG EAST regular season (tied for fourth) and most league wins (12) while also defeating a school-best eight ranked teams during the year.
-This season's squad features one of the best backcourts in the BIG EAST Conference with junior guard Sean Kilpatrick and senior guards Cashmere Wright and JaQuon Parker.
-The Bearcats were picked to finish fourth in the BIG EAST according to a preseason poll of the league's coaches.
-Wright and Kilpatrick are each closing in on becoming members of the 1,000 point club. Both could reach the plateau in today's game as Wright has 998 career points while Kilpatrick has 993 points. Of the 10 seasons when multiple UC players scored their 1,000th point in the same season only once has it occurred in the same game.
-Danny Fortson and Darnell Burton joined the 1,000-point club together at home against Memphis on Feb. 29, 1996. Fortson entered the game with 999 points and scored 25 points, while Burton entered the contest with 988 points and netted 16.
-Wright needs three steals to move into fourth place on the UC career steals list. Wright (161) trails Eddie Lee (1977-80), who recorded 163 steals.
-The Bearcats are 6-0 to start the year for the second time in three seasons. The 2010-11 squad started the year 15-0 en route to a 26-11 mark and NCAA tournament berth, head coach Mick Cronin's first at UC.
-Cincinnati is 2-0 in the SEC/BIG EAST Challenge, winning at Georgia 57-51 on Dec. 2, 2011 and defeating Mississippi State 75-63 at U.S. Bank Arena in downtown Cincinnati on Dec. 8, 2008.
The Alabama Series
-The Alabama-Cincinnati series is tied 1-1 entering today's game. The Bearcats won the last meeting, a 77-74 overtime decision in the semifinals of the Puerto Rico Holiday Classic on Dec. 22, 2000. The Crimson Tide won the first meeting in the series 83-64 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Nov. 29, 1983. This is the first meeting in Cincinnati.
-Cincinnati is 40-47 (.460) all-time against current members of the Southeastern Conference: Alabama (1-1), Arkansas (3-1), Kentucky (11-27), LSU (1-0), Ole Miss (1-0), Mississippi State (2-2), Missouri (1-0), South Carolina (7-14), Tennessee (5-1), Texas A&M (1-0) and Vanderbilt (6-1).
-Alabama plays its first true road game when it comes to Fifth Third Arena on Saturday. The Crimson Tide is 4-0 at home and won a pair of neutral site games against Oregon State (65-62) and Villanova (77-55) at New York's Madison Square Garden in the 2K Sports Classic.
-The Crimson Tide is led by guard Trevor Releford who averages 18.6 points and 3.4 assists while shooting 54.5 percent from the field (30 of 55) and 55.0 percent from three-point range (11 of 20). Guard Rodney Cooper is second on the team in scoring, averaging 15.8 points to go with a team-high 4.8 rebounds. Guard Trevor Lacey averages a team-high 4.0 assists to go with 13.5 points. He leads the squad with 13 three-pointers.
-The Crimson Tide is averaging 9.8 steals a game and outscoring its opponents by 16.7 points a game.
Alabama was picked to finish sixth in the league's preseason media poll behind Kentucky, Florida, Missouri, Tennessee and Arkansas.
UC in the SEC/BIG EAST Challenge
-The SEC/BIG EAST Challenge features 12 games over three days with all 12 SEC schools competing against 12 of the 15 schools from the BIG EAST.
Six games will be played in BIG EAST venues while the remaining six games will take place at SEC venues.
-This is the sixth year the leagues have played as part of a regular-season event. Entering this year, the BIG EAST led the series 16-12, including an 8-4 advantage last season.
-Cincinnati is 2-0 in the event, winning at Georgia 57-51 on Dec. 2, 2011 and defeating Mississippi State 75-63 at U.S. Bank Arena in downtown Cincinnati on Dec. 8, 2008.