Men's Basketball Returns Home vs. Lipscomb
gobearcats.COM Cincinnati's Larry Davis (11) tries to pass the ball under pressure from  UAB defenders during a NCAA college basketball game in Birmingham, Ala.  on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
gobearcats.COM
Cincinnati's Larry Davis (11) tries to pass the ball under pressure from UAB defenders during a NCAA college basketball game in Birmingham, Ala. on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
gobearcats.COM

Dec. 19, 2009

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Game 10: Lipscomb at Cincinnati

Saturday, Dec. 19 u 2 p.m. u Fifth Third Arena (13,176) u Cincinnati, Ohio u TV: BIG EAST Network/FOX Sports Ohio u Radio: 700 WLW                       

 

THE MATCH-UP

The Cincinnati Bearcats (6-3, 0-0 BIG EAST) look to shrug off a two-game road losing streak Saturday, Dec. 19, when it hosts Lipscomb University (4-5, 0-0 A-Sun) at 2 p.m. in Fifth Third Arena. UC, which has dropped road contests at Xavier, 83-79 2OT, and UAB, 64-47, this week, are undefeated at home this season with a 4-0 record. The Lipscomb game begins a three-game homestand for UC which culminates on Dec. 30 with its BIG EAST Conference opener vs. Connecticut. Saturday’s game vs. Lipscomb will be broadcast on FOX Sports Ohio and the BIG EAST Network (check local listings) with Michael Reghi (pxp) and former UC basketball standout Anthony Buford (analyst) handling the call. Dan Hoard (pxp) and Chuck Machock (analyst) will call the game on 700 WLW.

 

THE SERIES

Saturday’s game will be the first between the University of Cincinnati and Lipscomb University from the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Bearcats own a record of 7-4 all-time vs. teams from the A-Sun. UC last met teams from the Atlantic Sun in 2007-08 when they faced Belmont University in the season opener and then the University of South Carolina-Upstate.

 

SCOUTING THE BISONS

Lipscomb is 4-5 overall with all four wins coming in its last five games, including two vs. Southern Illinois Edwardsville.

The Bisons came into the week as one of the hottest shooting teams in the country, averaging 85.2 points per game (7th in NCAA) and shooting 48.5 percent from the floor (31st in the NCAA).

Heading into the week, they were ranked 59th in the NCAA in 3-point shooting, converting on 38.9 percent of their 3-pointers, and averaged 8.3 treys per game.

Lipscomb has four players averaging double figures, led by center Adnan Hodzic with 21.8 ppg. In the Bisons last game vs. Oakland City, Hodzic posted 25 points in 22 minutes, extending the nation’s longest streak of double-figure games to 36.

Hodzic also leads the team with 7.4 rebounds per game.

Josh Slater (17.0 ppg), Brandon Brown (13.9 ppg), and Jordan Burgason (10.5 ppg) are the other three double-figure scorers.

Lipscomb is ranked sixth in the NCAA in assists per game (18.8), led by Josh Slater (5.4 apg) who is 41st in the nation.

 

FIFTH THIRD ADVANTAGE

The Bearcats are 270-55 (.831) in games at Fifth Third Arena since the building opened in 1989-90.

Under Mick Cronin, UC is 34-21 in Fifth Third (.618).

UC is 4-0 at home and 3-0 in Fifth Third Arena.

The Bearcats are averaging 85.0 points per game at home led by Rashad Bishop’s 14.0 points per game.

Bishop’s 14.0 ppg at home is 9.2 points higher than his road average of 4.9 ppg.

 

UC VS. NON-CONFERENCE OPPONENTS

Since Mick Cronin took over the program in 2006-07, Cincinnati is 30-18 (.625) vs. non-conference opponents, including a record of 25-6 (.806) at home.

UC has won 12 of its last 14 non-conference games at home with the losses coming vs. Xavier and Memphis the last two seasons. During the stretch, the Bearcats have outscored their opponents by an average margin of 18.2 points per game in the 12 wins.

 

CINCINNATI BACK IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS

After being ranked for the first time since the 2005-06 season on Nov. 30, the University of Cincinnati men’s basketball team is No. 25 this week in the Associated Press poll and receiving votes in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll.

Last week, UC was No. 19 in both polls, its highest ranking 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 six programs in the country which has its football and men’s basketball programs in the Top 25 in both sports.

 

DEFENSIVE STOPPERS ...

One of the major reasons for Cincinnati’s success in the early part of the season has been its defense, which has held its opponents to 63.2 points per game.

Seven of UC’s nine opponents this season have scored 64 points or less. Despite giving up 83 points to Xavier, Cincinnati limited XU to 61 points in regulation.

Opponents are shooting 38.5 percent (195-of-506) vs. UC.

Even in UC’s three losses, UC’s defense has been solid holding its opponents to 41.1 percent shooting overall and 27.8 percent from 3-point range.

The Bearcats came into the week ranked 45th in field-goal percentage defense and 76th in the nation in scoring defense.

 

... AND REBOUNDING FIENDS

Besides defense, the other main characteristic of UC basketball over the last 20 years has been rebounding.

Heading into this week, the Bearcats were ranked No. 3 in the nation in rebounding margin at +11.9 per game.

Cincinnati is pulling down 43.4 boards per game, while limiting opponents to 34.3 rebounds.

Five times this season UC has posted 45 or more rebounds in a game (Prairie View A&M - 47, Vanderbilt - 53, Maryland - 47, Texas Southern - 47, Xavier - 52).

On the offensive glass, UC is 14th in the nation posting 15.3 offensive rebounds per game.

Sophomore Yancy Gates has shown tremendous improvement on the glass improving his average from 6.1 rebounds per game as a freshman to  a team-best 7.3 boards per game this year.

Gates has posted double-digit rebounds three times this season and UC is undefeated in those games (Prairie View A&M, Vanderbilt, Maryland).

Dion Dixon and Lance Stephenson have Cincinnati’s other two double-figure rebounding performances.

Stephenson has seen his rebound average climb from 4.4 to 5.3 rebounds per game thanks to 25 boards in the last four games.

 

DEC. 16 -UAB GAME NOTES

 A 14-0 run by UAB late in the game opened up a 64-39 lead with 1:21 remaining and the Blazers defeated UC 64-47.

The 47 points are the Bearcats fewest points in a game since scoring 45 on Dec. 29, 2008, at Memphis.

Cincinnati’s bench outscored UAB’s, 23-4.

Cincinnati finished 19-of-60 from the field for a .317 shooting percentage, UC’s lowest of the season. The Bearcats also shot .136 (3-of-22) from three, its lowest three-point shooting percentage of the year.

UC’s .136 shooting percentage from three is its lowest 3-point shooting percentage since shooting .091 (2-of-22) against Connecticut on March 9, 2008.

UC fell to 0-2 on the season when being outrebounded as the Blazers outrebounded the Bearcats, 47-34.

A 10-3 run in the first 4:58 of the second half cut Cincinnati’s deficit to eight points, 37-29, with 15:02 to play.

Cincinnati trailed 34-19 entering the half, its largest halftime deficit of the season.

The Blazers outrebounded the Bearcats 29-15 in the opening 20 minutes.

Cincinnati shot just 7-of-26 (.269) from the field in the first half, including 2-of-12 from behind-the-arc.

UAB went on 15-2 run in the first half from the 11:14 mark to the 6:09 mark, giving the Blazers a 26-10 lead.

The team’s leading scorer, freshman Lance Stephenson, scored his first two points of the game on a lay-up with 19:10 to play in the first half. Stephenson finished with eight points.

A 3-pointer by Deonta Vaughn with 15:02 to play in the second half tied him with Jason Maxiell for 11th on UC’s all-time scoring list with 1,566 career points. Vaughn finished with seven points and has 1,568 career points.

Sophomore Dion Dixon scored 11 of Cincinnati’s 19 first-half points. Dixon finished a season-high tying 13 points, UC’s only double-figure scorer.

 

ROAD OPENERS

UC’s game vs. Xavier at the Cintas Center was its first “official” road game of the season.

The Bearcats’ three games in Maui were considered neutral site contests, while the Miami (OH) game at U.S. Bank Arena is considered a “home” game since Cincinnati moved a home contest to an arena within the city limits.

Following Wednesday’s loss at UAB, 64-47, the Bearcats are 0-2 in away games this season and have a record of 7-29 (.194) in road games under Mick Cronin.

UC has shot 35.2 percent on the road this season vs. Xavier and UAB and is averaging 63.0 points.

Cincinnati’s last road win was a 64-62 overtime victory at Georgetown last season on Feb. 7.

 

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 made his debut in a Bearcats uniform at Xavier in the Crosstown Shootout.

Thomas scored two points, grabbed two rebounds, and blocked a shot in seven minutes of action vs. the Musketeers.

Thomas transferred to Cincinnati from Oklahoma State last season at the end of the fall quarter 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.

 

VAUGHN IN SEARCH OF HISTORY

Senior guard Deonta Vaughn has started all four 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:

Two 3-pointers to tie Steve Logan (1998-02) for fourth on the career 3-point field goals made list.

16 points to tie Darnell Burton (1994-97) for 10th on the career scoring list with 1,584 points.

Three assists to tie Oscar Robertson (1958-60) for third on the career assists list with 425.

Six starts to tie Steve Collier for fourth all-time in career starts with 104.

Seven steals to tie Tarrance Gibson (1989-93) for fifth on the career steals list.

95 minutes to tie Jason Maxiell (2001-05) for fifth in career minutes played with 3,563.

 

UC VS. RANKED OPPONENTS

Cincinnati is 113-168 (.402) all-time vs. opponents ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, including a 22-20 (.524) record in Fifth Third Arena.

UC is 2-0 vs. teams ranked in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll this season after knocking off No. 24/24 Vanderbilt and No. 21/22 Maryland in the first and second rounds of the 2009 EA Sports Maui Invitational, respectively.

The wins vs. Vanderbilt and Maryland marked the first time since the 1999-00 season that Cincinnati defeated ranked opponents in consecutive games. That year, UC defeated No. 25 Gonzaga 75-68 on Dec. 4, 1999, before defeating No. 7 North Carolina 77-68 on Dec. 8, 1999.

UC is 5-16 vs. ranked opponents under Cronin.

 

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.

 

ALL-AROUND EFFORT

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 scoring option for UC, posting 7.9 points per game.

He scored a career-high 20 points vs. Toledo on Nov. 18 and has a combined 26 points in UC’s last four games.

Bishop has a keen sense for shot selection and is the Bearcats second-best shooter, converting 51.8 percent of his shots (29-of-56).

Bishop is also tied for second on the team in rebounds (5.3) and is tied for third in assists (2.0 apg).

On defense, Bishop is considered the Bearcats top defender and typically draws the opponent’s toughest assignment.

 

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 77th in the nation dishing out 15.1 assists per game, led by senior guard Deonta Vaughn (4.0 apg). Vaughn was 158th in the country in assists per game.

Vaughn’s 2.13 assists-to-turnover ratio is 95th in the NCAA.

 

STEPHENSON PRESEASON ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Freshman Lance Stephenson, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound guard 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.

Stephenson earned BIG EAST Rookie of the Week honors for the second time this season after leading the Bearcats in scoring against local foes Miami (OH) and Xavier. He scored 11 points in a 63-59 win over the RedHawks. In an 83-79 double-overtime loss at Xavier, Stephenson scored a collegiate-high 22 points and grabbed six boards.

 

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 7.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.2 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.

Dixon notched his third double-figure scoring performance at UAB with 13 points. He was the only Bearcat in double-figures vs. the Blazers.

Now in his fourth year, Coach Cronin has developed a bench that has nine players averaging 10 minutes or more a game.

UC is outscoring its opponents bench 28.7-12.6 per night (258-113).

 

BEARCATS INK TWO IN EARLY SIGNING PERIOD

The University of Cincinnati men’s basketball program has signed Justin Jackson (Jacksonville, Fla./Arlington Country Day) and Kelvin Gaines (Ocala, Fla. /Arlington Country Day) to a National Letters of intent for the 2010-2011 season during the early signing period.

Jackson is ranked No. 92 among the top ESPN 100 recruits and was the first player to sign during the early period with the Bearcats.

Jackson, a 6-foot-8, 210-pound power forward with strong defensive and rebounding skills, starred last season for Montverde Academy and head coach Kevin Sutton where he posted 15.0 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 3.1 blocked shots per game as a junior. He was named to the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches (FABC) and Florida Sports Writer’s Association (FSWA) State All-Independent team (for players not participating in district competition).

Gaines, a 6-foot-10, 225 pound center, averaged 10.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 6.2 blocks in 2008-09 playing for Jason Niblett at Heat Academy in Martinsville, Va. The Heat finished the season with a record of 50-8 and was ranked as high as No. 12 in the national prep school polls.

This season, Gaines transferred to Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville, Fla., where he will team with fellow Bearcat signee Justin Jackson. The Indians were ranked No. 31 in country in ESPN’s Preseason poll.

 

KILPATRICK TO REDSHIRT

In his pregame radio interview prior to the season opener vs. Prairie View A&M, head coach Mick Cronin announced that he is planning to redshirt 6-foot-4, 215 pound, freshman guard Sean Kilpatrick (White Plains, N.Y./Notre Dame Prep).

Kilpatrick averaged 28.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists over his four-year high school career at White Plains High School and finished as the school’s all-time leading scorer.

Three times he earned all-state, all-section, all-league and all-county honors.

He played one season of prep ball at Notre Dame Prep for Ryan Hurd.

 

BEARCATS PICKED SEVENTH IN BIG EAST

For the first time since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 2005-06, the University of Cincinnati was picked to finish in the upper division of the league in the preseason poll being selected to finish seventh by the coaches.

The Bearcats also earned individual preseason honors as senior guard Deonta Vaughn earned first-team all-BIG EAST plaudits and freshman Lance Stephenson was named the league’s Rookie of the Year.

 

UP NEXT

Cincinnati plays Winthrop (5-4, 1-1 Big South) on Tuesday, Dec. 22 at 7:30 p.m. before breaking for the holidays. After the break, the Bearcats welcome in nationally-ranked Connecticut for its BIG EAST opener on Dec. 30.