Wilks, Bench Lead Way In Win

The Bellarmine Knights came into Fifth Third Arena on Thursday night, following a 26-7 season in 2008-2009. The Knights put up a fight and gave the Bearcats all they could handle even cutting the game to six (75-69) with less then a minute left, after trailing by 16 (75-59) with just 3:09 left in the contest. However the Cats held on to get the win 76-69.

Bench play was huge for the Cincinnati, as junior Darnell Wilks led the all scorers with 16 points, on 6-7 shooting including 2-2 from behind the arc. The bench of the Bearcats out scored the Knights 37-25, also getting seven a piece from Dion Dixon and Rashad Bishop.

Two other bearcats scored in double digits, Lance Stephenson scored 15 points in just 17 minutes, after being limited to just six minutes in the second half due to foul trouble. Also in double digits was redshirt freshman point guard Cashmere Wright who scored ten points, after an impressive showing from the charity stripe going (8-10). Wright also showed the ability to play solid defense and run the show on the offensive end of the floor.

Senior guard Deonta Vaughn wasn't really involved in the offense, as the member of the all Big East third team a year ago was held scoreless, and had just three assists. One item which will be interesting to see is how Vaughn fits in this offense when the ball isn't in his hands, after making the move to shooting guard. Last year he had the ability to create his own shot off dribble, now movement will be key to get the ball in positions to be successful and that will be something to watch as they face Prairie View A&M and beyond.

Defensively the Cats stepped up in the first half holding the Knights to 33.3% from the field, but in the second half Bellarmine shot an outstanding 60.9% from the field, which isn't acceptable for this team, who is long and athletic and has the type of talent to make a run in the Big East conference. However, it's early but it is something for Bearcat fans to keep an eye on. The key will be to see if it becomes a trend or just an example of preseason legs and the evidence of the deeper rotation used in exhibitions.

In great news, the Bearcats took the floor tonight after yesterday signing highly touted power forward Justin Jackson (out of Jacksonville) to the 2010 Class. The 6-8, 210 pound player is known for his defense and rebounded ability and should fit right into Mick Cronin's aggressive defensive style. Last season, Jackson averaged 15 points, 12.3 rebounds and 3.1 blocked shots at Montverde Academy in Jacksonville.

The Bearcats will start the regular season Monday night as the Prairie View A&M Panthers, from the SWAC (Southwestern Athletic Conference) will visit Fifth Third Arena. The Panthers were 17-16 a year ago, and start there season Saturday night vs. Schreiner Mountaineers.

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