Cincinnati, OH (Sports Network) - In a Big East Conference rematch, the
Rutgers Scarlet Knights will pay a visit to the 24th-ranked Cincinnati
Bearcats at Fifth Third Arena on Wednesday night.
Rutgers has been stuck in reverse of late with losses in three straight games
and four of the last five. The most recent setback was a 66-54 loss to
Connecticut that has the Scarlet Knights at 12-7 overall but just 3-5 in
conference action. Rutgers has been competitive in road contests with a mark
of 3-4, although it is just 1-3 in away games against Big East teams. The
Scarlet Knights will play three straight at home next beginning against No. 12
Louisville next Wednesday.
The Bearcats have been idle for nine days. The last time Cincinnati was on the
floor, it suffered a 57-55 loss, in heartbreaking fashion against No. 6
Syracuse. The loss put an end to a three-game winning streak for the Bearcats
who are now 16-4 overall and 4-3 in conference play. At Fifth Third Arena the
Bearcats have nine wins in 12 tries this season though they are just 1-3 in
the last four. The Bearcats will be on the road in their next two contests
against Seton Hall and Providence.
Cincinnati was the victor when these teams met earlier this month. The
Bearcats posted a 68-58 win at the RAC to claim their sixth win in the last
seven meetings. Cincinnati now leads the all-time series, 13-4.
Mike Rice tried shifting the starting lineup and had leading scorer Eli Carter
(15.4 ppg) come off the bench against UConn. It didn't end up mattering as the
Scarlet Knights shot just 39.3 percent from the field in the 12-point loss.
Jerome Seagears (5.4 ppg), who took Carter's spot in the staring lineup, did
score a game-high 18 points in his seventh start of the season. Even off the
bench Carter, who is 10th in the conference in scoring, still got plenty of
time on the court as he scored 13 points in 30 minutes. Myles Mack (12.8 ppg)
had a uncharacteristically poor shooting night against UConn has he hit just
3-of-9 shots from six points. On the season Mack has been the Big East's
leader among guards in field goal percentage (.503). While the backcourt has
provided the bulk of the production frontcourt contributors Wally Judge (7.5
ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Dane Miller (7.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg) have been solid enough.
After shooting just 20.7 percent in the first half, Cincinnati rallied against
Syracuse. However, a layup from C.J. Fair with 13 seconds left doomed the
Bearcats' comeback attempt. The Bearcats shot just 32.7 percent overall in the
game but kept themselves alive by nailing 10 shots from beyond the arc.
Though the loss to Syracuse stings, especially the offensive effort, the
Bearcats have generally been strong at both ends of the floor. They rank third
in the conference in scoring (73.2 ppg) despite shooting just 42.5 percent
from the floor. Much of that has to do with creating second chances as the
Bearcats are second in the country in rebounds (42.6 pg) while ranking fifth
in offensive boards (15.3 pg). The work on the glass has also helped them
allow just 59.1 points per game on a lowly 37.3 percent shooting. The
backcourt is where the offensive firepower comes for Cincinnati led by Sean
Kilpatrick (18.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg), Cashmere Wright (14.5 ppg, 3.5 apg) and JaQuon
Parker (10.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg). Cheikh Mbodj (5.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Titus Rubles
(6.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg) anchor the interior with Mbodj especially vital on the
defensive end where he blocks 2.5 shots per game.
The Sports Network