(21) Cincinnati (13-3) at Rutgers (11-3)
Saturday, January 12, 8 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, College Basketball Senior Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: RAC (8,000) -- Piscataway, New Jersey. Television: FSN-OH. Home Record: Cincinnati 8-3, Rutgers 7-1. Away Record: Cincinnati 2-0, Rutgers 3-2. Neutral Record: Cincinnati 3-0, Rutgers 1-0. Conference Record: Cincinnati 1-2, Rutgers 2-1. Series Record: Cincinnati leads, 12-4.
GAME NOTES: The 21st-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats seek a change of fortunes on Saturday, as they hit the road for Big East action, taking on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in Piscataway.
Mick Cronin's Bearcats cruised through the early stages of the 2012-13 season with 12 straight wins to open up. However, Cincinnati has hit a bit of a way in the schedule since, with three losses in the last four games, including two straight in league play with recent setbacks to St. John's and Notre Dame. The 66-60 loss to the Fighting Irish last Monday dropped Cincinnati to 1-2 in- conference.
Mike Rice's Rutgers squad also only has three losses on the season and has played extremely well of late. The Scarlet Knights have posted seven wins in their last eight games, with the lone loss coming in the Big East opener at seventh-ranked Syracuse. The team has rallied since then with league wins over both nationally-ranked Pittsburgh (67-62) last weekend and at St. John's (58-56) on Wednesday.
Cincinnati has dominated this series with wins in 12 of the 16 all-time meetings. However, Rutgers won the last matchup, 61-54 in Piscataway.
The Bearcats rely heavily on the play of their three-guard set, as Sean Kilpatrick, Cashmere Wright and JaQuon Parker account for the majority of the team's offense. Kilpatrick is shooting a modest .432 from the floor, but is one of the Big East's top scorers at 17.7 ppg. Wright can fill it up as well (14.3 ppg), as the team's top sniper (42-of-93 from 3-point range) and distributor (3.6 apg). Parker rounds out the scoring threats at 11.1 ppg. The scoring pool dries up after that though, as Titus Rubles ranks fourth on the team at just 6.9 ppg.
The Bearcats simply could not match Notre Dame's efficiency shooting the basketball and as a result, fell by six points at home to the Irish. Notre Dame shot 50 percent from the floor, including 9-of-16 from behind the arc. Kilpatrick was the only Bearcat to finish in double figures in the loss, netting 15 points. Wright managed just five points, but did dole out eight assists against just one turnover.
The Scarlet Knights trailed at the half against St. John's on the road, but rallied over the final 20 minutes to pick up the narrow victory. Dane Miller led three Knights in double figures with 11 points. Mike Poole and Austin Jackson played critical roles off the bench, tacking on 10 points each.
Rutgers is averaging a modest 71.1 ppg, but has been efficient for the most part, converting 47 percent from the floor. Those numbers have taken a hit in conference play though, as the team is averaging just 59.3 ppg on 41.8 percent accuracy. There isn't a whole lot of scoring depth on the roster, as only two players are currently averaging double figures. Eli Carter represents the top offensive threat at 16.9 ppg, despite shooting a mere 41.4 percent from the field. Myles Mack is much more efficient at 52.9 percent shooting, and is netting 12.9 ppg. Miller (8.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and Wally Judge (7.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg) provide some help.
The Bearcats are in a bit of a slump right now and playing a dangerous Rutgers team on the road may not be the cure for what ails them.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Rutgers 63, Cincinnati 61
01/12 10:30:59 ET