Bearcats Can't Hang With Top Dogs

After a slight delay thanks to Mother Nature, Cincinnati and Connecticut took to the court Sunday evening. The Bearcats were hoping to even the season series with the Huskies, but things didn't go as planned as the ‘Cats shot under 27 percent on the night and suffered their largest defeat of the season, and 5th in a row, 96-51 in their regular season finale.

Many felt as if Cincinnati (13-16, 8-10 in the Big East) should have won the first contest between these two teams back on January 23rd. UConn (24-7, 13-5 in the Big East) was able to overcome a 12-point second half deficit in that game, and took the lead on a pair of A.J. Price free throws in the final ten seconds, winning 84-83.

Sunday's match up was not nearly as close. A Rashad Bishop 3-point jumper with just over 17 and a half minutes to play in the first half would give UC a 3-2 lead. It was the only time in the game in which they were out in front. That basket would also end up being half of the Bearcat's total on the night from behind the arc, as Cincy shot a lowly 2-for-22 (9 percent) from three-point land.

A Stanley Robinson three-pointer with just over 16 minutes remaining in the first half would be the first points of a 30-0 Husky run. It would be almost 11 minutes before Cincinnati would score again, as a John Williamson lay up made it a 36-7 game with over five minutes left in the first. Cincinnati frustration was apparent as head coach Mick Cronin was assessed a technical foul as the Connecticut scoring frenzy reached its end. UConn led 47-15 at the break.

Robinson led the Huskies with 18 points and eight rebounds. The sophomore forward also made all three of his long-range attempts on the night. Hasheem Thabeet added 15 points of his own, as well as eight rebounds and eight blocked shots. Connecticut had four players finish with 13 points or more, as well as three others with nine points apiece. Jim Calhoun's club shot over 56 percent on the night, including 53 percent (9-for-17) from beyond the arc. Their 45-point victory was UConn's largest over a conference foe in school history.

Cincinnati's top two leading scorers, Deonta Vaughn and Williamson, came into Sunday's game averaging 17 and just less than 12 points per game, respectively. Each shot 3-of-12 from the floor as Vaughn had nine points, while Williamson had eight points and eight rebounds. The pair also combined for seven of the 12 Bearcat turnovers during the game. Bishop shot 4-for-5 from the floor to tie Vaughn for he team-high and finish with nine points as well.

With the Big East tournament just three days away, the team will not be returning to Cincinnati before their first round match up in Madison Square Garden. UC will be the number 10 seed in the tournament, and face number 7 Pittsburgh in the opening round. The Bearcats have split the season series with the Panthers this year. UC won by three in Clifton, while Pitt claimed victory by 6 in their Peterson Events Center.

The winner of that game will face the number 2 seeded Louisville Cardinals. Cincinnati pulled off the upset against the David Padgett-less Cardinals in Freedom Hall on New Years Day. Louisville has won 15 of their 18 games since that day, including a 2-point victory over Pittsburgh.

But first things first, Cincinnati and Pitt will tip off for the third time Wednesday night at 7:00PM. The game will be aired nationally on ESPN.

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