UC Men's Basketball takes on UConn in BIG EAST Opener

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Men's Basketball |

Dec. 29, 2009

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Game 12: Connecticut at Cincinnati

Wednesday, Dec. 30 | 7 p.m. | Fifth Third Arena (13,176) | Cincinnati, Ohio | TV: ESPN2 | Radio: 700 WLW                       

 

THE MATCH-UP

After starting the season 8-3 in non-conference games, the Cincinnati Bearcats (8-3, 0-0 BIG EAST) open their fifth season in the BIG EAST Conference with a home game in Fifth Third Arena vs. No. 10/10 Connecticut (9-2, 0-0 BIG EAST) at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2 with Terry Gannon (pxp), Fran Fraschilla (analyst), Doris Burke (analyst) handling the call. Dan Hoard (pxp) and Chuck Machock (analyst) will call the game on 700 WLW. Cincinnati is riding a two-game winning streak heading into the contest, while the Huskies are playing their first official road game of the season (eight home games, three neutral site).

 

THE SERIES

This game will be the sixth meeting between Cincinnati and Connecticut and the fifth as members of the BIG EAST Conference  and the Huskies are 5-0 all-time. The two first met in the second round of the 1995 NCAA West Regional in Salt Lake City with UConn winning, 96-91. Last season, Connecticut won the only match-up, 82-71, in Fifth Third Arena on Jan. 10, 2009 as A.J. Price scored 22 for the Huskies and  UC’s Deonta Vaughn posted 19 points and six assists.

 

SCOUTING THE HUSKIES

·         Connecticut is 9-2 overall heading into Cincinnati with a three-game winning streak. The wins have come against Central Florida (60-51), Maine (71-54), and Iona (93-74).

·         The game at Cincinnati will be the Huskies first road game of the season after playing eight games at home and three at neutral sites.

·         UConn is ranked ninth overall in the BIG EAST averaging 74.9 points per game with four players averaging in double figures.

·         Senior guard Jerome Dyson leads the team and is third in the BIG EAST with a 19.8 points per game average, followed by senior forward Stanley Robinson (17.0 ppg), sophomore guard Kemba Walker (13.3 ppg), and senior forward Gavin Edwards (10.8 ppg).

·         The Huskies are a team built around defense and rebounding, ranking first in the BIG EAST in field goal percentage defense (.364) and fifth in rebounding offense (41.2 rpg).

·         UConn allows its opponents 63.5 points per game, which ranks ninth overall in the league.

·         Freshman forward/center Alex Oriakhi and Robinson lead the Huskies on the glass wtih 8.5 and 7.4 rebounds per game, respectively.

·         Walker leads the conference in assists with 6.4 per game, more than half an assist higher than Eugene Harvey of Seton Hall who is in second (5.82 apg).

·         Despite only having scored 46 3-pointers this season, the Huskies are fifth in the league converting 37.1 percent from behind the arc.

·         Going into last week, UConn was ranked first in the nation in blocked shots. They post 10.3 blocks per game, led by Gavin Edwards at 3.6 bpg.

 

DEC. 22 -WINTHROP GAME NOTES

·         Cincinnati defeated Winthrop, 74-57, to improve to 2-0 all-time against the Eagles.

·         UC shot 51.0 percent from the field compared 37.5 percent for Winthrop. UC has now shot over 50 percent from the field in the past two games, marking the first time since Feb. 11 and Feb. 14, 2009, the Bearcats shot better than 50 percent from the field – St. John’s (64.8 percent - Feb. 11, 2009), and against Pittsburgh (51.9 percent - Feb. 14, 2009).

·         The Bearcats outrebounded the Eagles, 40-28, and moved to 8-1 on the season when outrebounding their opponent.

·         After shooting 1-of-10 from three in the first half, UC hit 5-of-9 treys in the second half to finish 6-of-19 (31.6 percent) from behind-the-arc.

·         Just as the Eagles cut the Bearcats lead to nine points, 58-49, with 7:43 to play, UC used a 9-0 run over the next 2:45 stretch to take 67-49 lead with 3:44 to play. Eight of the nine Cincinnati points were scored by senior Deonta Vaughn (two 3-pointers, two free throws).

·         Cincinnati shot 50 percent (15-of-30) from the field in the opening half and took a 39-23 lead into halftime.

·         The Bearcats made an effort to work the ball inside in the first half as 30 of UC’s 39 first-half points were scored by frontcourt players.

·         An 18-3 run from the 12:57 to the 6:47 mark of the first half widened Cincinnati’s lead to 30-14.

·         Sophomore Yancy Gates scored 10 of his 14 first-half points from the 14:22 mark to the 9:45 mark of the first half. Gates finished with a game-high 16 points and added seven rebounds.

·         Three second-half 3-point field goals by senior guard Deonta Vaughn moved him past Steve Logan and tied him with LaZelle Durden for third place on UC’s career 3-point made field goals chart. Vaughn has made 260 three’s in his career and it marked the first time in the past four games that he has connected on multiple 3-pointers in a game.

·         Vaughn finished with 11 points, tying Darnell Burton for 10th on UC’s career scoring list with 1,584 points.

·         Junior Ibrahima Thomas scored 11 points, his second double-figure scoring game of the season. It also is the first time in his career that he has had consecutive double-figure scoring efforts.

·         Junior Rashad Bishop tied his season high with eight rebounds.

 

FIFTH THIRD ADVANTAGE

·         The Bearcats are 272-55 (.832) in games at Fifth Third Arena since the building opened in 1989-90.

·         Under Mick Cronin, UC is 36-21 in Fifth Third (.632).

·         UC is 6-0 at home and 5-0 in Fifth Third Arena this season. The Miami (OH) game is considered a home game despite being played at U.S. Bank Arena.

·         The Bearcats are averaging 81.8 points per game in Fifth Third Arena led by Rashad Bishop’s 11.8 points per game.

·         Bishop’s 11.8 ppg at home is seven points higher than his road average of 4.8 ppg.

 

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.

·         The Bearcats are 7-5 vs. team’s ranked No. 10 in the AP rankings, including a 66-61 overtime win over Louisville on Feb. 21, 2004 in it last victory over a top 10 team.

 

TALE OF THE TAPE — LAST FIVE GAMES

·         In the Bearcats last five games, freshman guard Lance Stephenson leads the team in scoring averaging 14.8 points per game. During the stretch, he has scored in double figures three times, including a season-high 22 points vs. Xavier on Dec. 13.

·         The UC defense is limiting opponents to 63.0 points per game on 37.5 percent shooting (114-of-304) from the field.

·         Cincinnati shooting 42.5 percent (128-of-301) from the field during the stretch, but that number climbs to 51.3 percent if you remove the Bearcats 26.2 percent (26-of-102) shooting from behind the arc.

·         The Bearcats, who are one of the nation’s top teams in terms of rebounding margin (+8.9 rpg), are pulling down 40.8 boards a contest during the last five games. They are allowing opponents 36.6 rebounds per game during this latest stretch for a +4.2 margin.

·         Despite the team’s 40.2 rebounds per game in the last five, no UC player is averaging more than Deonta Vaughn’s 5.2 rebounds per game. Nine players are averaging two or more rebounds per game.

·         Senior guard Deonta Vaughn was three for his last 23 3-point attempts (13 percent) before knocking down all three of his attempts vs. Winthrop. He is now 6-for-26 (.231) from three in his last five games.

 

UC VS. NON-CONFERENCE OPPONENTS

·         Since Mick Cronin took over the program in 2006-07, Cincinnati is 32-18 (.640) vs. non-conference opponents, including a record of 27-6 (.818) at home.

·         UC has won 14 of its last 16 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 18.9 points per game in the 14 wins.

 

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 61.6 points per game.

·         Nine of UC’s 11 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 37.4 percent (236-of-631) 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 rank 17th in field-goal percentage defense and 58th 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.

·         The Bearcats are ranked 12th in the nation in rebounding margin at +8.9 per game.

·         Cincinnati is pulling down 42.8 boards per game, while limiting opponents to 33.9 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 31st in the nation, posting 14.6 offensive rebounds per game.

·         Sophomore Yancy 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.

 

SLOW STARTS

·         Over the last three games against Winthrop, Lipscomb and UAB, the Bearcats have gotten off to slow starts offensively.

·         During the first 10 minutes of the opening half of the Lipscomb and UAB games, sophomore Dion Dixon has single-handidly kept UC in the game during its struggles. In that time frame, Dixon has gone 5-of-7 from the field and combined to score 13 points. While Dixon has thrived, the rest of the Bearcats have combined to shoot 2-of-17 from the floor scoring four points.

·         Yancy Gates was the go-to player in the first half of the Winthrop game, posting 14 of his game-high 16 points.

 

DEEP THREAT

·         Coming into the season, junior Rashad Bishop had a career three-point shooting percentage of 27.9 percent.

·         While UC has struggled from behind-the-arc to start the season (27.9 percent), Bishop has thrived from long range this season.

·         Bishop has made a 3-pointer in seven of 11 games this season and is shooting 37.5 percent (9-of-24) from three, ranking second on the team.

·         Against Lipscomb on Dec. 19, Bishop went 5-for-5 from the field, including a career-best 3-of-3 from 3-point range.

 

UC’S SIXTH MAN

·         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 8.5 points, 3.0 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.

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

·         Dixon followed the UAB game with a 15-point scoring effort against Lipscomb and 13 of those points came in the first half. He is averaging 9.8 points per game in UC’s last five games.

·         Now in his fourth year, Coach Cronin has developed a bench that has nine players averaging 10 minutes or more a game and two more averaging 9.0 or more.

·         UC is outscoring its opponents bench 30.4-13.5 per night (334-148).

 

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 made his first start as a Bearcat against Lipscomb on Dec. 19 and recorded his first double-digit scoring effort with 10 points and added six boards.

·         Thomas followed up Lipscomb with 11 points vs. Winthrop. It is the first time in his career that he has had consecutive double-figure scoring efforts.

·         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 Field Williams (2000-04) for second on the career 3-point field goals made list.

      One point to tie Lloyd Batts (1972-74) for ninth on the career scoring list with 1,585 points.

      14 points to tie Jack Twyman (1952-55) for eighth on the career scoring list with 1,598 points.

      24 assists to tie Steve Logan (1998-02) for second on the career assists list with 456.

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

      Four steals to tie Tarrance Gibson (1989-93) for fifth on the career steals list with 150.

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

 

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 8.4 points per game.

·         He scored a career-high 20 points vs. Toledo on Nov. 18 and has a combined 39 points in UC’s last five games.

·         With 13 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting from the floor against Lipscomb on Dec. 19, Bishop picked up his third double-figure scoring effort of the season, matching his double-figure scoring performances from 2008-09.

·         Bishop has a keen sense for shot selection and is the Bearcats second best shooter, converting 53.7 percent of his shots (36-of-67).

·         Bishop is also second on the team in rebounds (5.5) and is fourth in assists (1.8 apg).

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

 

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.

 

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.

 

2009-10 BIG EAST Preseason Coach’s Poll

Rk.  Team                          Result

1.    Villanova (10)                 218

2.    West Virginia (5)              215

3.    Connecticut (1)                185

4.    Louisville                          179

5.    Georgetown                     161

6.    Syracuse                          152

7.    Cincinnati                      135

8.    Notre Dame                     132

9.    Pittsburgh                        119

10.  Seton Hall                        110

11.  St. John’s                           82

12.  Marquette                          78

13.  Providence                         52

14.  USF                                    44

15.  Rutgers                              43

16.  DePaul                                15


 

 

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