Bearcats Ready For UAB

Today at 4 PM, Cincinnati has a big C-USA showdown against UAB at the Fifth Third Arena. The Bearcats are simply fighting for seeding both in the C-USA and NCAA tournaments, while UAB is fighing just to make the Big Dance. Here is a preview.

Preview

 

Date: February 19th, 2005

Time: 4:00 PM, ET

TV/Radio: ESPN/ 700 WLW

Location: Fifth Third Arena, Cincinnati (tickets available)

Records:

Cincinnati – 19-6 overall, 7-4 C-USA (5th place)

UAB – 16-8 overall, 6-5 C-USA (t7th place)

Last Meeting: UAB defeated Cincinnati 80-69 on February 18, 2004 (Cincinnati leads series 13-7)

 

 

 

CINCINNATI STARTERS

Bob Huggins—16th year
F Armein Kirkland, 6-8 Jr., 11.2 pts
F Eric Hicks, 6-6 Jr., 14.3 pts, 8.9 reb, 2.4 blk
F Jason Maxiell, 6-7 Sr., 15.2 pts, 7.5 reb, 2.8 blk
G Nick Williams, 6-3 Sr., 8.0 pts
G James White, 6-7 Jr., 10.4 pts, 3.2 ast

UAB STARTERS

Mike Anderson—3rd year
F Marques Lewis, 6-8 Sr., 9.3 pts, 5.0 reb
F Demario Eddins, 6-7 Jr., 12.0 pts
G Cardell Johnson, 5-10 Jr., 4.0 pts, 4.6 ast
G Donell Taylor, 6-6 Sr., 15.3 pts, 4.4 reb, 3.2 ast
G Marvett McDonald, 6-2 Jr., 10.3 pts

 

The Bearcats have a lot riding on this game, despite having virtually no shot of winning a C-USA regular season championship.  Cincinnati is hoping to receive a first-round bye in the conference tournament, and also, is playing for a higher seed in the NCAA tournament.  This game would also clinch Cincinnati's berth to the conference tournament as one of the 12 of 14 teams.

Meanwhile, the Blazers are on the virtual bubble as far as the NCAA is concerned, and a road win against Cincinnati would go a long ways to securing a spot in the tournament come Selection Sunday. 

This game is an annual homecoming for UC assistant coach, Andy Kennedy, who finished his career for UAB in the early 90s as the school's 2nd-all time leading scorer.

When Cincinnati has the ball

As usual, Cincinnati is hoping to get consistent guard play, especially in the form of consistent outside shooting and good decisions with the basketball. 

Against a good offensive club like the Blazers, Cincinnati will need to hit on some outside shots to have a better shot of winning.  Jihad Muhammad and Chadd Moore will take a backseat today to James White, who is now leading the team in assists. 

The move gives Cincinnati even more size and athleticism.  Even though the Bearcats don't have a starter over 6-8, it gives them four long and athletic players to guard both offensively and defensively.

Against an undersized and struggling frontline of UAB, look for Cincinnati to start everything on the block with Eric Hicks and getting the ball early and often to Jason Maxiell.  Cincinnati will then want to get the Blazers into some sort of zone after attempting to get them into foul trouble, by letting White and Nick Williams hit some outside shots.

Along those lines, don't be surprised to see more of Ryan Patzwald this afternoon.

Another reason for Cincinnati to take better care of the basketball is the tough, gritty defense of UAB.

The Blazers are leading the conference in steals, as they will get up in their opponents' faces and guard very tenaciously.  They also are very good in getting around screens and stopping dribble penetration.

When UAB has the ball

Averaging nearly 80 points a game (79.8), the Blazers are an offensive juggernaut who use some good shooting and quick guards to get out and run on the break, scoring often.  They rank second in the conference in scoring.

It should be an interesting match-up, as Cincinnati is one of the best defensive teams in the country as they are leading the conference in scoring defense, and are fourth in the country while UAB is second in the conference in scoring.

Additionally, while UAB is second in the conference in field goal percentage (45.7%), the Bearcats continue to lead the nation giving up just 36.5% on field goals.

Everything starts for UAB around 5-10 point guard, Cardell Johnson.  Johnson is a quick guard with good vision and a great court sense.  He and Donnell Taylor together, average nearly eight assists a game.

Taylor is also the leading scorer for the well-balanced Blazers, averaging 15.3 points a game for a team with nearly four players averaging double-figures.

UAB will definitely try to run at nearly every opportunity, minimizing the Bearcats' chances to slow down the tempo and guard.  They will also try to pick their times they enter the ball down low, where Cincinnati usually dominates the paint, blocking over seven shots a game—which is second in the country.

Summation

Winning six straight games over UAB in the Fifth Third Arena, Cincinnati should once again come out on top, but if they do, it won't be an easy game.

Expect a game in the 60s or 70s, that will likely be nip-and-tuck all game long.  Athletically, this will be one of the better teams Cincinnati has faced this season. 

The Bearcats could really use this win, but then again, so could the Blazers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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