Sunday, Dec. 13 u 7 p.m. ET u Cintas Center (10,250) u Cincinnati, Ohio u TV: ESPNU u Radio: 700 WLW
After returning to the court Thursday after a nine-day break for final exams with a 63-59 win over area rival Miami (OH), the No. 19/19 Cincinnati Bearcats (6-1, 0-0 BIG EAST) face Xavier University (5-3, 0-0 A-10) in the annual Skyline Chili Crosstown Shootout on Sunday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. in XU's Cintas Center. For the 12th consecutive season, the game will be broadcast nationally on an ESPN network as Jim Barbar (pxp) and Fran Fraschilla (analyst) will handle the call on ESPNU. Dan Hoard (pxp) and Chuck Machock (analyst) will call the game on 700 WLW.
Sunday's Crosstown Shootout will be the 77th meeting between the schools since the series began in 1928. Cincinnati owns a 47-29 advantage in the series, but Xavier has won the last two, including a 64-59 win at the Cintas Center in 2007. UC head coach Mick Cronin is 1-2 in the series, picking up his win as a rookie head coach in 2006.
SCOUTING THE MUSKETEERS
Xavier is 5-3 overall and 2-3 in its last five games, including a 71-56 loss at Kansas State in its last outing.
In the Musketeers loss at Kansas State, they were outrebounded, 46-33, and shot just 29.4 percent (15-of-51) from the floor.
The Musketeers came into the week one of the top shooting teams in the nation (No. 15) and are knocking down 48.0 percent from the floor, including 44.8 percent from behind the arc.
Xavier is one of the nation's highest scoring offenses, averaging 78.4 points per game. Coming into the week they were ranked No. 24 in the NCAA.
The Muskies are led in scoring by sophomore guard Jordan Crawford's 18.5 points per game. Crawford sat out last season after transferring to Xavier from Indiana where he averaged 9.7 ppg as a freshman.
Senior forward/center Jason Love is the other Musketeer scoring in double figures with 10.3 points per game. He is also the team's leading rebounder with 10.0 rpg.
Love also provides the Musketeers a defensive spark with his 18 blocks (2.25 per game).
Starting guard Terrell Holloway and back-up Mark Lyons are the team's top assist men, with 26 and 25 assists this season, respectively.
Lyons is also tops in steals with 11.
Xavier is outrebounding its opponents by 6.2 boards per game (40.0-33.8) and were No. 19 in the nation in rebounding margin heading into the week.
THE SKYLINE CHILI CROSSTOWN SHOOTOUT
The highly contested Cincinnati-Xavier series had an inauspicious beginning when the two schools first met in a game scheduled after the conclusion of the 1927-28 season to dedicate Xavier's Schmidt Fieldhouse.It was 15 years (1942-43) before they met again.
Following another pause, the schools began playing on an annual basis in 1945-46 and have played consecutively since.
In 1948-49 and 1949-50, XU and UC played each other during the regular season and met again in the season-ending Cincinnati Invitational tournament.
While the tourney was discontinued after 1949-50, the schools played twice a season for the next eight years.
The series was deadlocked at four wins each after the first eight clashes, but Cincinnati won the next three games (March 18, 1950 - March 8, 1951) and has led the series since.
UC held a 12-10 advantage before launching a 12-game win streak (Feb. 13, 1957 - March 3, 1967), and from the mid-1950's to the late 1970's, the Bearcats captured 22 of 24 clashes.
Cincinnati owns a 47-29 edge in the all-time series, but Xavier owns a 3-1 lead at the Cintas Center.
Since the schools went to playing just once a year in 1958-59, UC and XU have played 23 times when one or both of the schools were ranked nationally in the Associated Press standings; UC owns a 13-10 record in those games. UC was ranked No. 1 in four of those games (1999-00; 1996-97; 1962-63; 1959-60).
Mick Cronin won his debut in the Shootout on Dec. 13, 2006, becoming the first rookie head coach in the last seven to win his first time out.
CINCINNATI BACK IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
After being ranked for the first time since the 2005-06 season last week, the University of Cincinnati men's basketball team climbed to No. 19 this week in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Polls.
The No. 19 ranking is the Bearcats highest since Jan. 31, 2005 when they were No. 17 in the ESPN/USA Today poll and No. 18 in the AP.
The Nov. 30 polls marked the first time in UC Athletics history that both the football team and the men's basketball program have been ranked nationally at the same time.
Cincinnati is one of seven programs in the country which has its football and men's basketball programs in the Top 25 in both sports.
UC VS. NON-CONFERENCE OPPONENTS
Since Mick Cronin took over the program in 2006-07, Cincinnati is 30-16 (.652) vs. non-conference opponents, including a record of 25-6 (.806) at home.
UC has won its last seven consecutive and 12 of its last 13 non-conference games at home with the loss coming last season vs. Xavier on Dec. 13, 76-66. During the stretch, the Bearcats have outscored their opponents by an average margin of 21.2 points per game in the 12 wins.
HIS TIME HAS COME
After transferring to UC following the first quarter last year and sitting out the first seven games this season, junior forward Ibrahima (ib-bruh-HEE-muh) Thomas will make his debut in a Bearcats uniform vs. Xavier in the Crosstown Shootout.
Thomas transferred to Cincinnati from Oklahoma State last season after starting seven games for the Cowboys and averaging 8.3 points and 3.9 rebounds. He also blocked eight shots.
Thomas is a native of Dakar, Senegal.
UC's game vs. Xavier at the Cintas Center will be the Bearcats first "official" road game of the season.
The Bearcats three games in Maui were considered neutral site contests, while the Miami game at U.S. Bank Arena is considered a "home" game since Cincinnati moved a home contest to an arena within the city limits.
The Bearcats have a record of 7-27 (.206) in road games under Mick Cronin.
DEC. 10 - MIAMI GAME NOTES
In the 145th meeting between the schools, UC defeated Miami (OH), 63-59, the Bearcats 11th straight win in the series. UC leads the all-time series 92-53.
Cincinnati improved to 6-0 on the season when outrebounding its opponents, beating the RedHawks, 38-29 on the glass.
Cincinnati connected on a season-high 21-of-32 free throws, while Miami made just 2-of-3 from the charity stripe. The three attempted free throws are the lowest for a UC opponent since Arkansas Pine Bluff attempted three on Dec. 22, 2008. The two free throws made by Miami (OH) are the fewest made free throws since High Point made two on Nov. 12, 2006.
The Bearcats bench outscored the RedHawks bench 24-11 in the second half with 11 of those points coming from redshirt freshman Cashmere Wright.
Miami cut the UC lead to two points with 6:13 remaining in the game, but Wright scored six straight points and started a 10-2 run from the 5:55 mark until there were 58 seconds remaining to place UC in front, 57-47 with just under a minute to go.
Cincinnati entered the half with a 24-23 lead. The 24 points are the second-lowest first-half scoring output this season. Cincinnati scored 23 points against Gonzaga on Nov. 25.
The Bearcats shot 32.1 percent (9-of-28) from the field in the first half, including 0-of-7 from behind the arc.
Stephenson scored 10 straight points for UC from the 13:32 mark to the 8:48 mark in the first half, keeping Cincinnati ahead, 17-12. Stephenson finished with a career-high 17 points and added eight rebounds, three assists, and three steals.
Stephenson has seen his rebound average climb from 4.4 to 5.9 rebounds per game thanks to 18 boards in the last two games.
SAND, SUN, AND HOOPS
After opening up with Prairie View A&M (Nov. 16) and Toledo (Nov. 18), the Bearcats made their first appearance in the EA Sports Maui Invitational hosted by Chaminade University on Nov. 23-25 at the Lahaina Civic Center.
In the first two rounds, the Bearcats knocked off nationally-ranked opponents No. 24/24 Vanderbilt, 67-58, and No. 21/22 Maryland, 69-57, marking the first time since the 1999-00 season UC has beaten ranked opponents in back-to-back games.
The wins propelled UC into the championship game of the Maui Invitational vs. Gonzaga. With UC leading by as many as 10 points midway through the second half, Gonzaga rallied and forced UC into overtime for the first time this season where the Bulldogs came away with a 61-59 victory.
Sophomore forward Yancy Gates and senior guard Deonta Vaughn were named to the all-tournament team. Gates was the Bearcats top scorer and rebounder in the tournament, averaging 14.7 points and 10 rebounds per game. Vaughn averaged 10.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.3 assists.
The Maui Invitational was Cincinnati's fifth trip to the Hawaiian Islands for an early-season tournament. They played in the 1975-76, 1989-90 and 1994-95 Rainbow Classics hosted by the University of Hawaii and won the 1999-00 Big Island Invitational tournament.
UC now owns a record of 9-6 in the islands.
VAUGHN IN SEARCH OF HISTORY
Senior guard Deonta Vaughn has started his first three years at Cincinnati for head coach Mick Cronin where he has twice been named all-BIG EAST Conference (1st team in 2007-08; 3rd team in 2008-09) and led the team in points and assists all three years.
In UC's game vs. Toledo he became the 12th player in school history to score 1,500 points in his career and the fifth to post 400 or more career assists. Only Oscar Robertson, Steve Logan, and now Deonta Vaughn have scored 1,500 points and dished out 400 assists in their career in Clifton.
Currently Vaughn is climbing several career lists at UC and needs:
18 points to tie Jason Maxiell (2001-05) for 11th on the career scoring list with 1,566 points.
Eight starts to tie Steve Collier for fourth all-time in career starts with 104.
172 minutes to tie Jason Maxiell (2001-05) for fifth in career minutes played with 3,563.
Four 3-pointers to tie Steve Logan (1998-02) for fourth on the career 3-point field goals made list.
Seven assists to tie Oscar Robertson (1958-60) for third on the career assists list with 425.
Nine steals to tie Tarrance Gibson (1989-93) for fifth on the career steals list.
The maturation of junior forward Rashad Bishop and his move to the four spot on the floor has given Coach Cronin many options, offensively and defensively.
After averaging 5.4 points per game as both a freshman and sophomore, Bishop has become a solid third scoring option for UC, posting 9.1 points per game.
He scored a career-high 20 points vs. Toledo on Nov. 18 and has a combined 19 points in UC's last two games vs. Texas Southern and Miami.
Bishop has a keen sense for shot selection and is the Bearcats best shooter, converting 55.3 percent of his shots (26-of-47).
Bishop is also the team's third-leading rebounder (5.3 rpg) and assist man (2.0 apg).
On defense, Bishop is considered the Bearcats top defender and typically draws the toughest assignment from Coach Cronin.
LENDING A HELPING HAND
Last season the Bearcats finished 76th in the nation in assists per game, averaging 14.6 a contest.
Coming into the week, Cincinnati is ranked 21st in the nation dishing out 17.0 assists per game, led by senior guard Deonta Vaughn (4.8 apg). Vaughn was 82nd in the country in assists per game.
Vaughn's 2.64 assists-to-turnover ratio is 52nd in the NCAA.
FINAL PIECE OF ROSTER CERTIFIED BY NCAA
Just prior to the University of Cincinnati's first exhibition game on Nov. 5 vs. Saginaw Valley State, freshman forward Lance Stephenson was certified by the NCAA to begin competing immediately.
Stephenson, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound forward who was named the 2009 BIG EAST Conference Preseason Rookie of the Year, committed to the Bearcats on June 30 after a highly-decorated prep career at Lincoln High School (Brooklyn, N.Y.), where he averaged 28.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 3.9 assists to earn Class AA New York State Sports Writers Association (NYSSWA) Player of the Year honors his senior year.
He graduated high school as the all-time leading scorer in the history of the state of New York with 2,946 points, passing fellow Lincoln High grad Sebastian Telfair, who was the 13th overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft and now plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Stephenson made his college debut starting the season opener vs. Prairie View A&M. He scored seven points, pulling down four rebounds and dishing out two assists vs. the Panthers.
A BOOST OFF THE BENCH
After providing UC with a key cog off the bench the first five games of the season, sophomore Dion Dixon earned his first start of the year and the sixth of his career vs. Texas Southern. It was his first start since Dec. 29, 2008 against Memphis. Dixon finished with a season-high 13 points.
As the Bearcats "sixth man," Dixon averages 7.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.4 assist per contest.
He posted his first double-double of the year coming off the bench vs. No. 24/24 Vanderbilt in the opening round of the Maui Invitational with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and an assist as Cincinnati knocked off the Commodores, 67-58.
Now in his fourth year, Coach Cronin has developed a bench that is 10 players deep averaging 10 minutes or more a game.
The UC is outscoring its opponents bench 28.6-11.4 per night.