GAMES NOTES: The 11th-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats continue a three-game
homestand when they host the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans at Fifth Third Arena
on Thursday night.
After starting the season 1-2, the Trojans have been red hot with wins in six
of their last seven games, including victories in three straight. The most
recent was a 91-30 rout of NAIA foe St. Gregory's. The Trojans have benefited
from a early schedule that has featured a number of home games, but have
dropped both of their true road games this season in blowout fashion to
Louisiana Tech (70-52) and Ole Miss (92-52).
It looked like Cincinnati might finally lose a game in its last outing but
Cashmere Wright shook off the rust of a poor shooting night and hit a jump-
shot at the buzzer to lift the Bearcats to a 58-56 win over Alabama last
Saturday. The win was the seventh straight to start the season for the
Bearcats. The team will close out its current homestand with a matchup with
Maryland-Eastern Shore on Saturday.
This marks the first-ever meeting between these two teams.
Arkansas-Little Rock feasted on St. Gregory's and ran out to a 46-13 lead at
halftime by shooting 52.9 percent from the floor. The Trojans continued to
dominate in the second half and ended up with an easy victory. The Trojans
scored 35 points off of 24 turnovers and outscored St. Gregory's 38-22 on
points in the paint. Ten different players scored for UALR, led by John
Gillon's 17 points.
Even before the win over St. Gregory's, Arkansas-Little Rock had been a solid
offensive team. The Trojans are scoring 68.8 points per game this season,
while shooting 43.1 percent from the field. During the recent hot streak the
Trojans have been strong on the other end as well holding opponents to less
than 60 points in five of their last six games. Overall the Trojans are
limiting teams to 60.3 points per game and 39.1 percent shooting. Will
Neighbour (12.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg) leads the team offensively. Gillon (11.4 ppg) is
also scoring in double figures, while James White (9.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg) is a
solid complement to Neighbour in the frontcourt.
Wright had connected on only 3-of-8 shots before nailing his game-winner
against Alabama. The poor shooting effected the entire team as the Bearcats
connected on only 39.0 percent of their shots from the floor, including just
2-of-11 from beyond the arc. The Bearcats were especially weak in the second
half as there were eight lead changes after Cincinnati held the lead for the
entire first half. Sean Kilpatrick and JaQuon Parker each scored 13 points to
lead the team, but combined to shoot 10-of-23 from the floor.
Normally Cincinnati is a team that excels at the offensive end. Cincinnati is
scoring 82.7 points per game on 46.4 percent shooting, while assisting on 15.3
field goals a game. The Bearcats' scoring average is the top mark in the Big
East and the 11th best nationally. Cincinnati also keeps up the pressure on
the other end by holding team's to 60.0 points per game on 34.1 percent
shooting. The list of strengths continues on the boards with the Bearcats the
third-best rebounding team in the country (46.7 pg). The offensive efficiency
comes from the stellar backcourt trio of Kilpatrick, Wright and Parker.
Kilpatrick (19.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg) has a ton of size and athletic ability and gets
to the rim effortlessly. Wright (15.3 ppg) and Parker (10.9 ppg) rely more on
their shots from the outside. In terms of frontcourt help Justin Jackson (3.7
ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Cheikh Mbodj (5.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg) are the best options.
Strong guard play is an essential ingredient for a winning team in college
basketball and the Bearcats have plenty in that regard. The Trojans just don't
have the type of backcourt options to keep up. Expect the Bearcats to shake
off the poor shooting against Alabama and continue its blistering start to the
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cincinnati 80, Arkansas-Little Rock 62