Providence came into Fifth Third Arena with a paltry 2-11 BIG EAST record, but one of those win was a 31-point thrashing of Louisville. So the Friars were one of these teams that on any given day could give you fits.
"We need to finish strong down the stretch to get in the (NCAA) tournament and get a good seed in the BIG EAST tournament," said Yancy Gates.
It wasn't a flashy performance by any means, but Cincinnati stayed consistent and before you knew it – the lead was up to 24 points six minutes into the second half. Then inexplicably, UC stopped executing and the Providence press forced them into careless turnovers.
Cincinnati took care of the ball for the first half, only turning it over twice. But over a five-minute span in the second half – they coughed it up five times that enable Providence to gain hope.
Head coach Mick Cronin searched for any combination of players that wanted to close out the Friars, making four-player substitutions on different occassions. Nothing seemed to shake the Bearcats out of their duldrums and a game that should have had an appearance from walk-on Alex Eppensteiner, turned into a dogfight.
If other that two Friars showed up Thursday night, the outcome could have been different. However, LaDontae Henton and Vincent Council accounted for 80 percent of Providence's (53-of-66).
(LACK OF) INTENSE START: The energy in the 2/3rd full arena seemed to have its effect on the Bearcats at the start of the game. Although the ‘Cats scored on their first possession it wasn't until a 7-0 run six minutes into the game that Cincinnati seemed to settle in.
HALF AND HALF: Providence had four players that entered the game averaging double figures. The Bearcats did an outstanding job on two of them – Bryce Cotton (15.0) and Gerard Coleman (13.8) – limiting them to 11 points combined – all by Coleman.
"We have to try to get Cotton going," said Providence coach Ed Cooley. We are not going to win many games when your second leading scorer had no points."
Cotton, who entered the game leading the Big East in three-point shooting, went 0-6 from behind the arc. However, the other two –Henton and Council – kept the Friars in the game. The pair of Friars contributed 53 points. Council tied his career-high with 29 points, while Henton dropped in 24 for PC.
WINDEX MEN: Thankfully, the Bearcats attacked the glass ferociously, which in turn led to 20 second chance points. Cincinnati collected 18 offensive rebounds on 34 missed shots (52.9 percent). Fourteen of those 20 came in the second half. UC outrebounded the Friars 44-26, including 26 defensive boards.
"Rebounding was an issue for us all night," said Cooley. "I though we gave Cincinnati ton of confidence early and it carried throughout the game. We can't secure an urgency rebound. It really, really hurting us."
FINALLY A BOARD: For the first time in three games, senior guard Dion Dixon recorded a rebound. He finished with six, three offensive and three defensive, on the game.
SMOOTH CRIMINAL: Cashmere Wright has recorded a steal in nine of the last 10 games for the Bearcats. He had two steals that jumpstarted Cincinnati early 7-0 run that gave them a cushion that only ballooned as the game progressed. It was his fourth straight game with at least two thefts, and his 14th on the season.