The Bearcats have talent. They can score. They can rebound. They can defend. They play hard.
They did all that against Seton Hall, for example. They shot better 50 percent, out-rebounded the Pirates by 12, yet lost an important road game.
They did that because they turned the ball over 18 times and, as coach Mick Cronin pointed out, "You can't defend a live-ball turnover. They run down and lay it in. They got 24 points off our turnovers. That's the game."
Putting all parts of the game together -- the shooting, the rebounding, the defending and protecting the basketball is hard, to be sure -- but in the Big East it is the only formula for victory, even if you have talented players like Lance Stephenson, Deonta Vaughn and Yancy Gates.
Until Cincinnati finds the right formula, it is going to remain inconsistent.
--G Deonta Vaughn, who has been the Bearcats' top scorer in the past couple of seasons, had his first 20-point game of the year at Seton Hall. He also hit a season-high six 3-pointers. Vaughn passed Louis Banks and is seventh on UC's career scoring list.
--Freshman Lance Stephenson has scored in double figures in all four of Cincinnati's Big East games.
--Cincinnati shot 52.6 percent from the field in defeat against Seton Hall and has hit better than 50 percent of its field goals in each of its last two games.
--A recently released report shows that the University of Cincinnati sports program will need up to $11 million in new funding every year to be competitive in the Big East, but it is currently is running a deficit every year and owes millions of dollars from past spending, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.
ON THE SPOT: Coach Mick Cronin has to find the answer at the point guard position. Cashmere Wright was supposed to be the starter with freshman Jacquon Parker behind him. But when Cronin decided to move Deonta Vaughn to the point, Parker became odd man out and wasn't playing at all. Wright's time has been limited. "Every game for me is an audition," Parker said. Finding the proper equation will probably go a long way to adding stability to the offense.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We get every team down in the Big East early in the game and they always come back. We've got to realize how we started winning in the beginning." -- G Deonta Vaughn, in the Cincinnati Enquirer, after losing to Seton Hall.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SEASON RECAP: Cincinnati is better but still doesn't seem to be able to get over the hump. The Bearcats had won four in a row until Pitt came into its house and walked off with a hard-fought 74-71 victory ... and then there was a disappointing Big East road loss at Seton Hall, a team that had lost four in a row. Cincinnati has not won consecutive Big East road games in two years.
Pittsburgh 74, Cincinnati 71
Cincinnati 87, Cal State-Bakersfield 58
Seton Hall 83, Cincinnati 76
IN FOCUS: If Cincinnati is going to do something in the Big East this year as it thought it would, it is reaching a crucial stretch with three winnable conference home games in the next five outings. While Notre Dame is a formidable opponent, the Irish are far better as a home team than a road team and they are followed into Cincinnati by South Florida and Providence around a showdown trip to Louisville. When you are a team trying to establish yourself in the Big East, it begins with defending your home court.
--PG Cashmere Wright has lost his starting job, but coach Mick Cronin is working him back in for more action after using him for just 17 minutes in three games. Wright played 15 minutes off the bench against Seton Hall, hitting 3 of 4 shots with five assists and only one turnover. With Wright on the bench, Deonta Vaughn has been at the point.