Men's Basketball Meets Mississippi State in SEC/BIG EAST Invitational|
Dec. 16, 2008
The Cincinnati Bearcats (7-2, 0-0 BIG EAST) play the third game of a nine-day, five-game homestand on Thursday, Dec. 18 vs. Mississippi St. (7-3, 0-0 SEC) in the SEC/BIG EAST Invitational at 6:30 p.m. in U.S. Bank Arena. The match-up between the Bulldogs and Bearcats kicks off a doubleheader that includes Louisville and Ole Miss. It is the first meeting between UC and Mississippi State since the 2001-02 season, when UC defeated MSU 90-56 as part of the Las Vegas Classic . UC is looking to build upon its 74-55 win over Charleston Southern on Monday and pick up its fourth win in five games. After dissapointing performances against Xavier, freshman Yancy Gates, sophomore Alvin Mitchell, and senior Mike Williams rebounded with great performances against the Buccaneers and look to help Cincinnati earn its sixth consecutive regular-season win over a SEC team. Mississippi State comes into the match-up with UC looking to build off a 79-60 win last Saturday over South Alabama. Jarvis Varnado led the Bulldogs with 21 points, eight rebounds and six blocks against South Alabama. Varnado is averaging a double-double, scoring 12.4 ppg and grabbing 10.5 rpg, and Varnado is also the leading shot blocker in the country. Varnado is averaging 6.2 blocks per game, and Mississippi State averages 10.6 blocks per contests, which is also tops in the country.
UC AT U.S. BANK ARENA: Thursday's game brings Cincinnati back to one of its former home courts. The Bearcats played at U.S. Bank Arena, then known as Riverfront Coliseum, from 1976-87. UC has compiled a record of 116-50 (.699) in games played in the building, which includes championships of the Conference USA Tournaments played there in 2002 and 2004. The Bearcats have won 12 consecutive games at U.S. Bank Arena.
SCOUTING MISSISSIPPI STATE
· Mississippi State enters the SEC/BIG EAST Invitational with a 7-3 mark after defeating South Alabama, 79-60, on Dec. 13.
· The Bulldogs rank in the Top 50 in the country in blocked shots (10.6, 1st), field-goal percentage defense (35.4, 11th), and scoring margin (+13.0, 46th).
· Mississippi State averages a nation leading 10.6 blocks per game with 106 blocks through 10 games. Jarvis Varnado ranks first in the country in blocks, swatting away 6.2 shots per contest.
· Varnado also leads the team in scoring, averaging 12.4 points per game, and rebounding, grabbing 10.5 rebounds per game.
· Sophomore Ravern Johnson is the other Bulldog player averaging 10-plus points per game with 11.8. Johnson is also a threat from behind the 3-point line, hitting 52.2 percent of his attempts from behind the arc (24-of-46).
· MSU, much like Cincinnati, has a deep bench that has 11 players seeing more than 10 minutes a game, including six over 17 minutes per contest.
· In his first year with the program, freshman guard Dee Bost has been the catalyst for the Bulldogs. Bost has started all 10 games and leads the team in assists (46), steals (13), and is averaging 9.5 points per game.
CINCINNATI VS. THE SEC
· In 108 seasons of basketball, Cincinnati owns a 35-47 record against teams from the Southeastern Conference. This will be Cincinnati's first meeting against a SEC opponent under head coach Mick Cronin.
· In its first season of basketball in the 1901-1902 season, Cincinnati defeated current SEC member Kentucky, 31-21.
· Cincinnati has won five consecutive regular-season games over SEC teams, including a 90-56 win over Mississippi State on Dec. 21, 2001.
· In his sixth year as a Division I head coach, Mick Cronin reached his 100th career victory with a 74-55 victory over Charleston Southern on Dec. 15.
· Cronin has compiled a 100-64 (.610) record over stints at Murray State (2003-06) and Cincinnati (2006-pres.).
· Following is a list of Cronin's milestone wins:
OUT OF THE GATES
· After scoring just three points against Xavier on Dec. 13, freshman Yancy Gates came off the bench to score a season-high 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field in a 74-55 win over Charleston Southern.
· Gates scored 10 of his game-high 18 points in the first 12 minutes of the game and added seven rebounds.
· The Cincinnati native has had five double-figure scoring games this season and Cincinnati is 5-0 when Gates scores in double-figures.
MITCHELL HAS CAREER NIGHT VS. CSU
· Sophomore forward Alvin Mitchell put together an impressive all-around effort in UC's 19-point win over Charleston Southern on Dec. 15.
· Mitchell recorded his third double-figure scoring game of the season with 16 points, knocking down a career-high tying four 3-pointers.
· Mitchell also grabbed a career-high nine rebounds and dished out a career-high six assists in the win.
· Coming off the bench for the first time this season, senior forward Mike Williams finished with 10 points and a career-high tying 11 rebounds vs. Charleston Southern.
· It was the second double-double of the season for Williams and the third time this season a UC player has recorded a double-double (Williams 2; Gates 1).
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 nine games, holding its opponents to 59.2 points per game and 35.7 percent shooting, while averaging 43.6 rebounds per game and a +11.3 rebounding margin. Last year, UC allowed opponents 67.8 points per contest on .430 shooting.
· In the most recent NCAA statistics, Cincinnati was ranked among the Top 25 in rebounding margin (+9.9/14th) nationally, and field goal percentage defense (.360/14th).
· 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.
· Seven players are averaging over 3.5 rebounds per game this season.
NOT TOYLOY-ING AROUND
· After scoring 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 4.4 points and 4.8 rebounds a game.
· His 59.4 shooting percentage (19-of-32) is third on the team.
· Toyloy posted five or more rebounds in five of UC's nine 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 182-of-523 (.348) 3-point field goal attempts in 71 career games, while Flint was 177-of-593 (.298) over his four-year career.
· Vaughn is 76 treys behind Steve Logan (1998-2002) for fourth place.
· Darnell Burton is the all-time leader in 3-pointers made with 306.
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 16.7 points per game over the last six.
· Against 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 12 of his last 32 3-pointers (.375).
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 44.8 percent from the field, an improvement of 3.6 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 third-leading scorer (9.3 ppg), hitting on 43.1 percent from the field, while McClain leads all players in shooting percentage at 72.7 percent (16-22), up 28.5 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 33.6 points per game or 46.1 percent of the points. The Xavier game marked the first time this season UC lost when its bench outscored its opponent.
· Against Charleston Southern, Cincinnati's bench scored 55 points to equal the Buccaneer team.
· The last time Cincinnati's bench scored 50-plus points in a game was on Dec. 30, 2003 in a 102-63 win over Elon, posting 50 points.
· The Bearcats bench has combined to score 20 or more points in eight of nine games this season.
· The Bearcats have three players averaging over five points or more off the bench, led by the team's third-leading scorer Alvin Mitchell (9.3 ppg).
· Steve Toyloy, the team's second-leading rebounder is averaging 4.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in 15.7 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 third on the team in scoring with 9.3 points per game in 21.4 minutes per game off the bench.
· Against Charleston Southern, Mitchell put his all-around game on display with 16 points, a career-high nine rebounds and a career-best six assists.
· It took Mitchell just seven games this season to eclipse his 2007-08 season points total (62), and he has scored 84 points this season.
· 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.
· Eighteen of his 28 baskets this season are 3-pointers and he is shooting 41.9 percent (18-of-43) 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 COUNT
· The Cincinnati Bearcats have faced teams with smaller, quicker post players to start the season, limiting sophomore center Anthony McClain's minutes to 9.0 per contest.
· The 7-foot-0 native of Trenton, N.J., has taken full advantage of his minutes, averaging 4.4 points and 3.2 rebounds. Pro-rated over 30 minutes, McClain would average 14.9 points and 10.7 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 19.7 rebounds per game -- almost half of the team's nightly average (45.2 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 9.1 points and 5.4 rebounds in 24.9 minutes of work.
· With 10 points and 11 rebounds, Williams notched his second double-double of the season against Charleston Southern.
· He netted a career-high 17 points vs. UAB, knocking down 11-of-14 free throws.
· His 78.8 percent (26-of-33) free throw percentage ranks second on the team.
· He registered his first double-double at UC vs. Florida State (Nov. 28) with 11 points and 11 boards.
· 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 260-51 (.836) in games at Fifth Third Arena since the building opened in 1989-90.
· Under Mick Cronin, UC is 26-16 at home (.619).
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.
· 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 was, 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.
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.
CHARLESTON SOUTHERN GAME NOTES - DEC. 15
· The game was the first meeting between Cincinnati and Charleston Southern.
· Cincinnati defeated Charleston Southern, 74-55.
· The Bearcats outscored CSU 26-2 in second-chance points and 55-14 in bench points.
· Ten players scored for UC in the win, including a game-high 18 points by freshman Yancy Gates.
· Cincinnati outrebounded Charleston Southern, 49-27. It is the sixth time this season UC has grabbed 40-plus rebounds and the 49 rebounds are the second most this season.
· Cincinnati improved to 7-0 this season when out-rebounding its opponent.