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68


Villanova (15-9) at Cincinnati (18-6)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Tuesday, February 12, 8 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Fifth Third Arena (13,176) -- Cincinnati, Ohio. Television: PHL17, FSN-OH, MASN. Home Record: Villanova 9-4, Cincinnati 10-4. Away Record: Villanova 5-4, Cincinnati 5-2. Neutral Record: Villanova 1-1, Cincinnati 3-0. Conference Record: Villanova 6-5, Cincinnati 6-5. Series Record: Villanova leads, 6-3.

GAMES NOTES: After dropping out of the nationally rankings the Cincinnati Bearcats will try to right the ship when they host the Villanova Wildcats in a Big East Conference conflict at Fifth Third Arena on Tuesday night.

Villanova easily got past South Florida on Saturday with a 68-40 victory. The win was the second straight for the Wildcats who had lost back-to-back games previously. Villanova is 15-9 overall on the campaign but a middling 6-5 in league action that has it tied with Cincinnati for just ninth in the Big East standings.

Last Monday Cincinnati was seated at No. 17 in the top-25. However, after consecutive setbacks to Providence (54-50) and Pittsburgh (62-52) the Bearcats fell out of the national rankings. Cincinnati still owns an impressive 18-6 overall mark but is nowhere near the upper echelon in terms of the Big East standings.

This is the first and only scheduled meeting of the season between these squads. Last year Cincinnati won both meetings to end a three-game winning streak for Villanova which has a 6-3 all-time series lead.

Villanova held South Florida to just 11 total field goals on 23.4 percent shooting on Saturday. That included a 1-of-17 showing from beyond the arc. Meanwhile the Wildcats were successful on 52.4 percent of their shots from the field and 7-of-13 from 3-point range.

Led by three players in double figures for the season, Villanova has managed to rank just ninth in the Big East in scoring (69.5 ppg), while shooting at the third worst percentage from the floor (.416). Relying to heavily on one- on-one plays is a part of the offensive mediocrity as the team is second to last in the conference in assists. The Wildcats do play solid defense though forcing teams to shoot just under 40 percent from the floor. JayVaughn Pinkston (!2.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg) is the leading scorer on the squad though he has been used primarily to create a spark off the bench. Darrun Hilliard (11.7 ppg) and Ryan Arcidiacono (11.2 ppg) are the other two scoring options, though Arcidiacono has been erratic (.341 FG percentage) in shooting the ball during his freshman season.

For the fifth straight game the Bearcats were unable to reach the 60-point plateau against Pittsburgh. Cincinnati shot just 30.8 percent from the field and 4-of-25 from 3-point range in the loss. Sean Kilpatrick scored 16 points as the only player in double figures for the Bearcats but he needed 15 shots to do so. Meanwhile, Cashmere Wright had just five points on 2-of-12 shooting.

As Kilpatrick (18.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and Wright (13.5 ppg, 3.3 apg) go so goes the Bearcats. The duo have proved to be one of the best backcourts in the Big East with Kilpatrick actually fourth in the conference in points as well. JaQuoan Parker (10.5 ppg) also makes his living out of the backcourt, while no other player scores in double figures on the roster. With limited scoring options, especially on the interior, the Bearcats have relied heavily on shots from the outside, although they rank just 13th in field-goal percentage (.416) in the Big East. Luckily Cincinnati is a very good defensive unit, holding teams to just 58.8 points per game on 37.8 percent shooting. Each of those marks is among the top 30 nationally.

With Kilpatrick's size the Wildcats will struggle to match up with the Bearcats in the backcourt. If Cincinnati keeps up the heat defensively, a win should be in order.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cincinnati 68, Villanova 61

02/12 10:32:44 ET

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