The Bearcats and Tigers have been members of the same conference on four different occasions going back to the Missouri Valley days. This will be the 66th meeting between the two with Cincinnati owning an edge in the series 36 wins to 29 losses.
The Memphis program has a long and proud tradition that includes two visits to the final four, the Tigers lost in the finals to UCLA in 1973. Coach John Calipari has rebuilt the Tiger program back to national prominence posting a 181-63 record going into the 2006-2007 season. That includes two consecutive 33-4 years and two appearances in the NCAA Elite Eight.
This edition of the rivalry would appear to be a mismatch. Memphis has one of the most talented rosters in the country (8-0, 0-0 C-USA), ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press poll and No. 2 in ESPN/USA Today poll. The Tigers return all five starters and ten letter winners from last year's 33-4 Elite Eight team.
Calipari's teams have always been known for playing great defense. This year Memphis foes are shooting 37.5 percent from the field and have turned the ball over 156 times (19.5 to/game). The Tigers forced four teams into 20 or more turnovers (Richmond, 21; Austin Peay, 21; Southern Cal, 21; Middle Tennessee, 20). BIG EAST member UCONN had 17 turnovers against the Tigers.
Chris Douglas-Roberts, a 6' 7" junior guard, leads the Memphis attack averaging 18.8 points a game. Roberts is joined by Antonio Anderson who is one of the top defenders in the country and can play the one, two or three spots on the floor. At point guard Memphis has Derrick Rose, Rated the nation's top high school point guard entering college in 2007-08. Rose has transitioned his game nicely to the big stage averaging 14.4 points a game.
The frontcourt returnees include the tandem of Joey Dorsey and Robert Dozier. The 6' 9" Dorsey was named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year last season, and the equally tall Dozier creates problems for opponents with his 7' 3" wingspan. Between the two they control the glass with a combined plus 17 rebounds each game. Joey Dorsey, a senior, has grabbed double digit rebounds in 41 games during is career.
Cincinnati brings a 4-5 overall record into Wednesday's contest. The Bearcats are on a three-game skid with road setbacks to UAB, Illinois State and Xavier. Prior to the three-straight losses, Cincinnati put together a three-game win streak with victories over Coastal Carolina, Fairfield and USC Upstate.
Deonta Vaughn (14.4 ppg) and Adam Hrycaniuk (10.9) are the only double-figure scorers. John Williamson leads the Bearcats on the glass with a 7.6 rebounding average, and Hrycaniuk adds 6.1 boards per game. Vaughn leads the squad with 46 assists (5.1 apg), and joins Marvin Gentry as the Bearcats' top two three-point threats. Gentry shoots 48.3 percent from the arc, while Vaughn hits 41.2 percent from the three-point line.
Cincinnati is shooting 40.8 percent from the floor, 32.1 percent from the arc and 65.7 percent from the free throw line.
The Bearcats are out-rebounding their opponents by an average of 2.3 boards per game (36.4-34.1). The Bearcats are defending the arc well, holding their foes to only 33.2 percent from the three-point line.
Tip-off at 7 o'clock. After the game UCATS members are invited to a post game "Chalk Talk" with Coach Larry Davis on the 5th Floor of the UCATS club.
Memphis Visits Fifth Third Tonight
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