The Bearcats Big East opener was to be a big affair, but after a few minutes against fellow conference newcomer DePaul, the Bearcats cruised to an 82-60 victory.
On the night the Bearcats were paced by the inside dominance of Eric Hicks and Cedric McGowan. Both players scored in double figures in both points and rebounds. Hick would score 20 points to go with his 15 boards, while McGowan used his 20 rebounds to help him score 13 points against a sluggish Blue Demon team.
But while the inside play was strong, guard play was also important in the Bearcats first conference victory. Jihad Muhammad continues to find his stroke after a slow start and evened Hicks with 20 points on the night. The senior guard would go 3 of 4 from the 3pt line and be joined by James White who is showing NBA scouts he's got all the tools to play at the next level with his 17 point performance.
After the game junior forward Cedric McGowan had the following to say about the Blue Demons. "We came out and outsmarted them. We're quicker and more physical. They're big, but not that physical and we got first blood, went hard, and got all the rebounds. Their big man is basically on the perimeter. I had to worry about other people coming in."
Bearcats Head Coach Andy Kennedy had praise for his two newcomers McGowan and true freshman Devan Downey. "Cedric (McGowan) has been very steady for us from day one. He is a fantastic kid. He works hard in practice and earns the right to be productive in games. Devan (Downey) tonight had some freshman moments, but we still beat a pretty solid DePaul team by 22, which shows a maturation of our team."
"We've been pretty resilient. Our internal expectation is high. I wish physically we were a little bit tougher, because at times I think people manhandle us, physically. But mentally, we are awfully resilient."
"Defensively, we did what we needed to do. We held them to the number that we need, which is sub-40 percent from the field. I'm not really caught up in points allowed because we dictate that with our offense."
Again the visiting coach had nothing but praise for the Bearcats head coach and the work his staff has done. DePaul Head Coach Jerry Wainwright wasted little time with his high remarks. "Andy's (Kennedy) has done a great job with these kids. He is a very bright young coach. I think the kids are really relating to him. Their record is no fluke. It's a testimony to him and his staff and the senior leadership that they have. "
The Bearcats will now take to the road with a big contest with fellow Big East newcomer Marquette on Saturday at 12 noon. The game can be viewed on WXIX-TV Fox 19 live and is also the ESPN Regional Big East Game of the Week.
Marquette is coming off a big victory over UConn and will look to improve their Big East record against the Bearcats.