Game Preview: UC WBB @ Rutgers

After losing a pair of home court battles with two of America's best basketball programs, the University of Cincinnati's women's basketball team will hit the road for their third straight chance at knocking off a top-25 team squad.

The Bearcats will square off against an upstart Rutgers squad who, after a slow start to the 2006-07 campaign, have began to meet some of the early expectations those in the know had for them coming into the year. While UC found no luck in a span of four days, losing to Marquette, 76-59, on Jan. 27 and then three days later dropping a nail-biting 70-60 decision to No. 5/6 Connecticut where the 'Cats held the Big East powerhouse in the palm of their hand before their youth and streaky shooting got the better of them, the Scarlet Knights have been on fire as of recent.  RU upset back-to-back Top 25 teams to earn their way into the polls defeating the same Golden Eagles squad that gave the Bearcats fits off and then No. 21/23 Michigan State, 63-57. 



Cincinnati: 12-9, 3-6 in Big East

Noting the Bearcats schedule:

* UC's lone victory against a top-25 squad this season came against DePaul (62-44).

* Seven of UC's nine losses have been to ranked opponents, including its last set-back versus UConn on Tuesday (70-60).

* The Bearcats have tree non-home wins this season, including one conference win over Georgetown.  Cincinnati is 3-5 away from Fifth Third Arena this season.

*The ‘Cats are currently in the midst of an extended losing slump, dropping their past two contests and six of their last eight overall.


Rutgers: 13-6, 6-2 in Big East

Noting the Scarlet Knights schedule:

* The Scarlet Knights have won three in a row and eight of their last nine, most recently posted a 66-56 victory over No. 16 Marquette on Tuesday.

* Rutgers is 8-1 at home this season and has won 46 of its last 49 games at the RAC.

* RU saw its strength of schedule ranking rise on Friday to a season-high second-best, trailing only Tennessee in the SOS rankings.

* The Scarlet Knights have held seven of their last eight opponents to their lowest point production of the season. In total, they have limited five opponents to 50 or fewer points (Seton Hall 50, Temple 48, Georgetown 41, Pitt 29, USF 36). Rutgers held Marquette to a season-worst 56 points and Louisville - even in a loss for the Scarlet Knights - posted 53 points, the fewest scored by the Cardinals this year.

* The Scarlet Knights are 12-1 when leading with 10 minutes to go. The lone loss was at Louisville on Jan. 21. Rutgers has led wire-to-wire in four contests thus far this season.


Series: Rutgers leads, 1-0.
Last Meeting: Rutgers 64, UC 51 at Fifth Third Arena

Common Opponents:   BOLD = home , Italics = Road


UC                                                                                                          Rutgers

(62-44, win)                                          DePaul                                  (73-87, loss)

(62-67, loss)                                          Louisville                              (50-53, loss)

(77-55 win), (80-62, win)   Georgetown                          (71-41, win)

(59-76, loss)                                         Marquette                             (66-56, win)

(49-67, loss)                                          USF                                        (62-36, win)

(57-58, loss)                                         Seton Hall                            (62-50, win)


Expected Starting Lineups

CINCINNATI PROBABLE STARTERS                        PPG        RPG       APG       PCT.

G 23 Carla Jacobs, 5-7, Fr., Cleveland, Ohio               8.6           2.5           4.3           .345

G 25 Angel Morgan, 5-8, So., Springfield, Ohio           5.9           5.4           2.9           .338

F 40 Jill Stephens, 6-3, So., Mineral Wells, W.Va.        4.6           2.7           0.4           .481

F 44 Treasure Humphries, 5-6, Sr., Canton, Ohio        13.0         4.7           4.1           .454

C 52 Michelle Jones, 6-1, So., Cincinnati, Ohio                           12.1         6.2           0.6           .528


RUTGERS PROBABLE STARTERS                              PPG        RPG       APG       PCT.

F 5 Essence Carson, 6-0, Jr., Paterson, N.J.                  12.6         5.9           3.1           .429

G 10 Epiphanny Prince, 5-9, Fr., Brooklyn, N.Y.          14.8         4.7           3.5           .484

C 15 Kia Vaughn, 6-4, So., Bronx, N.Y.                          13.3         9.9           0.6           .561

F 21 Heather Zurich, 6-1, So., Montvale, N.J.               4.0           1.8           1.3           .360

G 22 Matee Ajavon, 5-8, Jr., Newark N.J.                      8.9           2.9           3.7           .381


Meet the Scarlet Knights



No. Pos.   Name                   Ht. Yr.   PPG RPG  Notes

10  G       Epiphanny Prince^     5-9 Fr.    14.8  4.7    15 pts., 3 triples vs. Marquette

22  G       Matee Ajavon *^ 5-8 Jr.    8.9    2.9    Game-best five assists vs. Marquette

15  C        Kia Vaughn                          6-4 So.    13.3   9.9  Leads Conference in blocks/11th NCAA(3.0)

21  F        Heather Zurich     6-1 So.   4.0    1.8    Career-high pts (12) and asts (5) at Temple

5    F        Essence Carson *^             6-0 Jr.   12.6    5.9   Shooting 59 percent, avg 23 pts last 2 gms



No. Pos.  Name                    Ht. Yr.  PPG RPG   Notes

4    G      Dee Dee Jernigan        5-11 Fr. 1.1  0.8       Back from injury, 7 pts in last 5 games

24  F          Myia McCurdy   6-1 Fr.   2.5  1.8       3-of-4 from FT line vs. Marquette

12  G      Katie Adams                          5-10 Jr.  1.1  0.8       Season-high 3 rebounds vs. GU

35  G      Brittany Ray^                         5-9 Fr.   7.8  2.6       31 three-pointers on the year; 26 mpg

43  C         Rashidat Junaid^                6-4 Fr.   3.7  2.9       5 pts, 3 reb, 2 blks, stl in 13 min. vs. MSU

* Preseason All-Big East Selection

^ Player to Watch vs. UC


Head Coach: C. Vivian Stringer (Slippery Rock, ‘70)

Record:243-122 in12th season at RU, 763-257 in 36th season overall

Associate Head Coach: Jolette Law (Iowa, ‘89)

Assistant Coaches: Carlene Mitchell (Kansas State, ‘96), Marianne Stanley (Immaculata, ‘76)

Director of Operations: Michelle Edwards (Iowa, ‘89)

Director of Player Development: Chelsea Newton (Rutgers, ‘05)


Noting Rutgers Squad

* The Scarlet Knights are ranked seventh in blocked shots (6.4) and 28th in field goal percentage, shooting 44.6 percent from the perimeter according to NCAA statistics. Individually, sophomore Kia Vaughn is ranked in the top 25 in three lists: 11th in blocked shots (3.0), 25th in field goal percentage (.561) and 22nd in rebounding (9.9). With 125 career blocks, Vaughn has taken over sixth place in the school record books and stands just three away from fifth.  Vaughn, who has blocked multiple shots in 13 games this season lead the Big East in blocks with three per game, nearly an entire block ahead of her next competitor.

*  Junior Essence Carson has been hot as of late, which is putting it mildly. Local N.J. product out of Patterson is averaging 23 points over her past two games and 18 points over the past five games, where he has led her tea in scoring four of those contests. Against Michigan State (Jan. 28), Carson recorded 21 points, including 11 of the Scarlet Knights' first 19 points and seven of her then career-high in the final 2:38, lifting RU to the win. Carson got off early and often against Marquette, as well.  Carson went for a new career-best mark with 25 points including. Her team's first nine points in the 66-56 victory.

*  The 14 points scored by Preseason Big East selection Matee Ajavon against Michigan State, which moved her within six points of 1000 for her career, came in light of failing to reach double figures in any of her past five outings, including a scoreless effort against Temple..

*  Freshman guard Epiphanny Prince leads the Scarlet Knights in scoring at 14.8 points per game, something the NYC product has done since Nov. 19 (after third game versus Florida), and finds herself ranked 15th in the BIG EAST in scoring after starting her career by scoring double-digits in 16 of her first 19 games. Prince has also been regal with the rest of her game, finding herself amongst the conference leaders in assists (3.47, 12th) and steals (2.89, second).

*  Sophomore forward Heather Zurich has had a career year. After playing just 80 minutes during the 2005-06 campaign, Zurich has seen her on-court time multiply by five times that number this season (474 minutes) and has earned the starting nod in the past nine straight games (16 overall)

*  Freshman guard Brittany Ray is the Scarlet Knights marksmen.  While she doesn't use a bow and arrow like most Knights, she has proven just as deadly with her jumpshot.  The first-year sharpshooter from the Bronx has 31 of the team's 92 three-point field goals (33.7 percent) enroute to 7.8 points per game during her freshman campaign. Along with Prince, the dynamic Rutgers newcomers are combining for 55 percent of the team's made three-pointers this season..

*  Freshman center Rashidat Junaid

* Three of RU's five freshmen have scored in double-figures this season. Along with Prince and Ray, Rashidat Junaid has reached the plateau this season.  While not scoring like their fellow freshman, the combo of Myia McCurdy and Dee Dee Jernigan have been sizeable contributors to Rutgers recent success. McCurdy has scored in 15 of 19 games and has even graced the starting lineup this season, while Jernigan has started to see action in each of the last seven games after coming back from injury. seen minutes in the last seven games . While Junaid joins the injury-plagued Jernigan has the long Scarlet Knight not to have started this season, the 6-4 defensive standout has been a very important cog in the middle of RU's defensive machine in recent games, particularly against Pitt and Marquette.



CINCINNATI BEARCATS                                                RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS

NCAA     *Big East                              STAT                                      *BIG EAST            NCAA

37th          6th              72.1           Points Scored                 66.4         10th                        125th

218th      12th            66.4           Points Allowed               59.6         3rd                            79th

77th          7th                +5.7           Scoring Margin              +6.7         10th                          76th

46th        6th             .433               FG  Percentage              .446         2nd                           28th

249th        16th             .424            FG Pct. Defense              .378         4th                          78th

173rd      12th             .303            3-FG Percentage             .358         1st                            49th

79th          5th               5.3              3-FG Made                      4.8          10th                          151st

NA          13th             337             3-FG Pct. Defense          .351         15th                          NA

249th        11th            .668             FT Percentage                .672         14th                          207th

12th          3rd              +9.0              Rebound Margin           +1.8         8th                            105th

16th          4th              16.7              Assists                           13.8         12th                          115th

100th        5th              9.4                Steals                              8.3           10th                          172nd

318th        16th            1.1                Blocks                             6.3           1st                            7th

*as of Jan. 28

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