Dec. 15, 2008
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The Cincinnati Bearcats (6-2, 0-0 BIG EAST) continue a five-game, nine-day homestand on Monday, Dec. 15 with a tilt vs. Charleston Southern (5-3, 0-0 Big South) at 7:30 p.m. With one day between games, UC is looking to put a 76-66 loss to Xavier in the Crosstown Shootout behind it and pick up its third win in four games. The Bearcats hope that junior guard Deonta Vaughn continues to have a hot hand as he helped get Cincinnati within five points of the Musketeers with a season-high 27 points. Charleston Southern comes into the match-up with UC looking to build off a 101-49 win on Saturday over Covenant College. Kelvin Martin and Omar Carter led the way for the Buccaneers each scoring 23 points in the win. The Buccaneers ride a three-game winning streak after starting the year with just two wins in their first five games. This will be the first meeting between Cincinnati and Charleston Southern. UC is 3-0 under Mick Cronin vs. the Big South Conference, including a 82-56 win over Coastal Carolina this season.
FIFTH THIRD ADVANTAGE
Since Mick Cronin took over the UC program in 2006-07, the Bearcats are 15-6 (.714) at home vs. non-conference teams, including a 5-1 mark this season.
SCOUTING CHARLESTON SOUTHERN
Charleston Southern has won its last three games after starting the year with losses in three of its first five, including a 68-48 loss at Iowa.
The Buccaneers are 91st in the nation in scoring offense averaging 74.7 points per game. They have scored over 100 points twice this season outdueling Toccoa Fall College, 107-78, and Covenant College, 101-49, in its last game.
Three players average over 10 points per game for CSU led by sophomore guard Jamarco Warren’s 22.1 ppg. Warren was ranked eighth in the NCAA in scoring (23.3 ppg) heading into last week.
Sophomore forward Omar Carter, the team’s second-leading scorer with 17.4 points per night, is the squad’s top rebounder (8.9 rpg) averaging 0.1 more rebounds than freshman forward Kelvin Martin (8.8 rpg). Martin rounds out the team’s top three scorers with 11.0 points a night.
CSU, much like Cincinnati, has a deep bench that has 10 players seeing more than nine minutes a game, including six over 20 per contest.
The Buccaneers shoot well from behind the 3-point line as a team, knocking down 39.2 percent. Warren is the team’s top marksman shooting 49.3 percent from behind the arc and averaging 4.4 a game.
- Charleston Southern also ranks among the Top 100 in the NCAA in free throw percentage (.726), rebounding margin (+8.3), 3-point defense (.306), and turnovers per game (12.3).
CINCINNATI VS. THE BIG SOUTH
TAKING ON MORE
Freshman guard Dion Dixon has taken on a increasingly larger role offensively for Cincinnati over the last three games. After scoring 22 points in his first five games (4.4 ppg), Dixon has posted 29 in the last three (9.7 ppg), including a season-high 13 at UNLV and 11 vs. Xavier.
- Over the stretch, he is the team’s second-leading shooter, knocking down 9-of-17 shots (.529), behind Yancy Gates (.591).
NOT TOY-ING AROUND
After scoring just two points in Cincinnati’s four games prior to the Crosstown Shootout, Steve Toyloy reasserted himself as a scoring threat vs. the Musketeers, hitting on 5-of-7 shots and equalling his season-high with 11 points.
Toyloy is one of the Bearcats top guys off the bench, posting 4.8 points and 4.8 rebounds a game.
His 58.1 shooting percentage (18-of-31) is third on the team.
- Has posted five or more rebounds in four of UC’s eight games.
NO. 5 SLIDES INTO NO. 5 SLOT
- Junior guard Deonta Vaughn made five 3-pointers vs. Xavier on Dec. 13 in the Skyline Chili Crosstown Shootout and moved into fifth-place on the career 3-pointer list ahead of former UC standout Damon Flint (1993-97).
- Vaughn has sank 180-of-517 (.348) 3-point field goal attempts in 70 career games, while Flint was 177-of-593 (.298) over his four-year career.
- Vaughn is 78 treys behind Steve Logan (1998-2002) for fourth place.
- Darnell Burton is the all-time leader in 3-pointers made with 306.
- In his sixth year as a Division I head coach, Mick Cronin is one win shy of reaching his 100th career victory.
- Cronin has compiled a 99-64 (.607) record over stints at Murray State (2003-06) and Cincinnati (2006-pres.).
FINDING HIS GROOVE
- Junior guard Deonta Vaughn was the BIG EAST’s sixth-leading scorer last season, averaging 17.3 points per game. As Vaughn adjusted to the new faces on the team this season and the transition to running more of the offense as the point guard, his scoring was down over the first three games, averaging 10.3 points a night.
- Since scoring 17 vs. Coastal Carolina (Nov. 24), Vaughn has picked up where he left off in 2007-08, scoring 18.4 points per game over the last five.
- In his last outing vs. Xavier in the Crosstown Shootout, Vaughn scored a season-high 27 points, hitting on 5-of-11 treys and 8-of-9 free throws.
- He has made 10 of his last 26 3-pointers (.385).
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 eight games, holding its opponents to 59.8 points per game and 36.0 percent shooting, while averaging 42.9 rebounds per game and a +9.9 rebounding margin. Last year, UC allowed opponents 67.8 points per contest on .430 shooting.
- Last week, Cincinnati was nationally ranked among the Top 25 in rebounding margin (+12.1/4th), scoring defense (57.4/25th), field goal percentage defense (.359/18th), and scoring margin (+16.3/25th).
- With the addition to Mike Williams and Yancy Gates down in the blocks this year, UC has jumped from 11th in the BIG EAST in offensive rebounds per game last year (12.7) to second this season (16.5). The only BIG EAST team UC trails is West Virginia.
- The 16.5 offensive rebounds per game also ranks seventh nationally.
- Freshman guard Dion Dixon gives the Bearcats’ backcourt a boost this year in rebounds, averaging 3.9 boards per game. In eight games this season, Dixon has pulled down five or more rebounds three times, including a career-high 10 vs. Texas Southern (Nov. 18).
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 44.6 percent from the field, an improvement of 3.4 percent from last year (41.2).
UC shot 53.2 percent (33-62) from the floor vs. Coastal Carolina (Nov. 24), 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 33.3 percent against Florida State (Nov. 29) in the Global Sports Classic.
- 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 fourth-leading scorer (8.4 ppg), hitting on 43.1 percent from the field, while McClain leads all players in shooting percentage at 75.0 percent (15-20), up 30.8 percent from last year (.442).
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).
This season the tide has swung as UC’s bench is scoring 30.9 points per game or 42.4 percent of the points. The Xavier game marked the first time this season UC lost when its bench outscored its opponent.
The Bearcats have three players averaging over five points or more off the bench, led by the team’s fourth-leading scorer Alvin Mitchell (8.4 ppg).
Steve Toyloy, the team’s second-leading rebounder is averaging 4.8 points and 4.8 rebounds in 16.8 minutes a game. He played a season-high 23 minutes vs. Xavier off the bench and equaled his career-high with 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
- Cincinnati has nine players averaging 10 or more minutes per game. Out of those nine, eight are averaging 15 minutes or more.
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 fourth on the team in scoring with 8.5 points per game in 20 minutes per game off the bench.
It took Mitchell just seven games this season to eclipse his 2007-08 season points total (62) as he scored his 63rd point of the year vs. UAB on Dec. 6.
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.
Fourteen of his 22 baskets this season are 3-pointers and he is shooting 43.8 percent (14-of-32) from behind the arc.
- Mitchell’s 3-point shooting played a big part in the Bearcats win at UNLV. With the Bearcats trailing by two, 59-57, and 3:13 left in the game, Mitchell hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put UC up by four, a lead it did not relinquish.
MAKING HIS MINUTES
- The Cincinnati Bearcats have faced teams with smaller, quicker post players to start the season, limiting sophomore center Anthony McClain’s minutes to 9.5 per contest.
- The 7-foot-0 native of Trenton, N.J., has taken full advantage of his minutes, averaging 4.8 points and 3.6 rebounds. Pro-rated over 30 minutes, McClain would average 15.2 points and 11.4 rebounds.
- Against Western Illinois (Nov. 22), 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 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 28.8 points a game.
- More impressively, the group is averaging 18.9 rebounds per game — almost half of the team’s nightly average (44.1 percent).
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 this season, averaging 9.9 points and 5.3 rebounds in 24.6 minutes of work.
- He netted a career-high 17 points vs. UAB, knocking down 11-of-14 free throws.
- His 82.8 percent (24-of-29) free throw percentage leads the team.
- He registered his first double-double at UC vs. Florida State (Nov. 28) with 11 points and 11 boards.
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 to eighth in the league, swatting away 4.5 shots per game.
Sophomore center Anthony McClain leads UC with 12 blocks this year, including a career-high four against Coastal Carolina (Nov. 24).
- Freshman Yancy Gates is second on the team with nine.
- 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 month 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 were part of the Global Sports Classic. After playing home games vs. Western Illinois (Nov. 22) and Coastal Carolina (Nov. 24), the Bearcats traveled to Las Vegas for the final two rounds at the Thomas & Mack Center where they faced Florida State (Nov. 28) and UNLV (Nov. 29).
The other lone pre-conference road game is at 2008 NCAA national runner-up Memphis on Dec. 29.
UC is 259-51 (.835) in games at Fifth Third Arena since the building opened in 1989-90.
- Under Mick Cronin, UC is 25-16 at home (.610).
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.
XAVIER GAME NOTES - DEC. 13
- The attendance for Crosstown Shootout was 13,176, the first sellout in exactly two years when Cincinnati played Xavier on Dec. 13, 2006.
- Xavier defeated Cincinnati 76-66. The Musketeers outscored Cincinnati 12-0 in fast break points.
- The Bearcats hit 85 percent (17-of-20) of its free throw attempts, its highest single-game free throw percentage this season.
- Trailing by five points, 63-58, with 6:02 to play, UC went scoreless from the field for the next 5:39 as Xavier widened its lead to 76-64.
- The Bearcats trailed by five points, 24-19, with 3:56 remaining in the opening half, but Xavier closed the half on a 15-6 run to take a 39-25 lead into the half.
- UC went scoreless from the 10:55 mark of the opening stanza to the 5:18 mark before Vaughn made a lay-up, his first two points of the game. Despite not hitting a field goal during that stretch, the Bearcats cut its deficit from nine points to five points as they went 7-of-8 from the free throw line.
- Freshman Yancy Gates scored the first bucket of the game at the 19:42 mark of the first half, before Xavier scored 14 unanswered points to jump on top, 14-2 with 12:39 on the clock. UC went 0-of-6 with six turnovers during the stretch.
- Senior guard Deonta Vaughn scored 19 of his game-high 27 points in the second half. Vaughn hit 5-of-11 3-pointers and converted 8-of-9 free throw attempts.
- Junior forward Steve Toyloy scored seven straight points for the Bearcats from the 10:23 mark to 8:36 mark helping UC cut its deficit to three points, 59-56. Toyloy had combined for eight points in his previous five games.
- Vaughn scored 10 of Cincinnati’s first 13 points as UC cut its halftime deficit from 15 points to 11 points, 49-38, with 15:19 on the clock.
- Sophomore guard Rashad Bishop surpassed his previous career-high for rebounds with nine.
- Freshman guard Dion Dixon recorded the second double-figure scoring game of the year, scoring 11 points.