FACTS & STATS: Site: Madison Square Garden (19,763) -- New York, New York.
Television: ESPN. Home Record: Cincinnati 13-5, Providence 12-4. Away Record:
Cincinnati 5-5, Providence 4-7. Neutral Record: Cincinnati 3-0, Providence
1-2. Conference Record: Cincinnati 9-9, Providence 9-9. Series Record:
Providence leads, 5-4.
GAMES NOTES: With the hopes that they can find their success from earlier in
the year, the ninth-seed Cincinnati Bearcats will take on the eighth-seed
Providence Friars in the second round of the Big East Tournament at Madison
When the Bearcats opened up conference play they were sporting a 12-1 mark and
were quickly rising in the national rankings. However, UC was inconsistent
during its conference slate, especially at the end when the team managed just
a pair of wins in the final six games. Overall, Cincinnati was one of seven
teams with at least 20 wins in the conference but they finished with an even
9-9 split in league play.
Providence took an opposite path through the regular season. Before a 63-59
overtime loss in the regular season finale against Connecticut the Friars had
won seven of eight contests. That successful stretch at the end of the season
allowed the Friars to finish up at 17-13 overall with the same 9-9 split
against the rest of the conference.
Though they were tied up in the league standings when the season ended the
Friars won the only head-to-head matchup between these teams this season and
thus earned the higher seed. With the win the Friars also pulled ahead in the
all-time series, 5-4.
At home against one of the weaker teams in the conference, Cincinnati barely
escaped with a win in the regular-season finale. The Bearcats escaped with a
61-53 overtime win over South Florida, which had just three league wins all
season, in the contest. The Bearcats trailed by until the 14-second mark when
Cashmere Wright knotted the game and sent it to overtime with a free-throw. A
9-2 run to open the extra session allowed the Bearcats to survive.
Wright (12.8ppg, 3.1 apg) has been one of three guards that have been carrying
Cincinnati this season. Sean Kilpatrick (17.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and JaQuon Parker
(11.1 ppg) are also guards that are called on to score quite a bit for the
Bearcats, who have no other players putting in more than six points per game.
Cheikh Mbodj (5.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.6 bpg) isn't much of a scorer but he can
really protect the rim, tying for second in the Big East in blocks. Led by
Mbodj the Bearcats have been one of the better defensive teams in the country
ranking among the top 25 teams in the league in points allowed (59.5 pg) and
field goal percentage (.388).
After rallying from a six-point halftime deficit on the road against UConn,
the Friars just ran out of steam in overtime. Providence made good on just 1-
of-8 shots from the field in the extra session to surrender the decision.
Kadeem Batts finished with a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds in the
Big East leading scorer Bryce Cotton (19.6 ppg) has been pouring it on all
season but struggled in the season finale as he had just nine points while
hitting just 1-of-8 shots from beyond the arc. The junior guard had gone more
than three months without scoring in double figures before the regular season
finale. Batts (15.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg) was an All-Big East honorable mention and is
joined in the frontcourt by another strong scorer and rebounder in LaDontae
Henton (13.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg). Vincent Council (9.9 ppg, 7.0 apg) missed a chunk
of the season early on but has come on strong since his return especially in
running the offense for the Friars.
For much of the season Cincinnati was a nationally ranked team. Though the
Bearcats may not be able to retain that success again, they are in desperate
need of a strong showing in the league tournament to bolster their fading NCAA