DePaul Blue Demons vs. Cincinnati Bearcats – Wednesday, February 24th, 6:00 p.m. Central – Fifth Third Arena, Cincinnati, Ohio
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The last time we saw the Cincinnati Bearcats, they were walking off the court at Madison Square Garden after getting knocked out of the first round of the Big East tournament by the Blue Demons.
No doubt the Bearcats will have that game on their mind as the ball goes up on Wednesday night.
Cincinnati (15-11, 6-8) is in serious jeopardy of falling off the bubble for a NCAA tournament bid. Once again, DePaul (8-18, 1-13) gets the opportunity to play the spoiler role.
Yet the Blue Demons haven't done well on the road in the Big East the last few seasons. In fact, the last time DePaul won a Big East road game, George W. Bush was president.
The Bearcats are coming off a heartbreaking 79-76 overtime loss to the visitors from Marquette. UC coach Mick Cronin came under criticism following the loss for experimenting with the lineup too much during the game. In a surprising move, Cronin decided to sit dominating big man Yancy Gates during the game's final 12 minutes.
Cronin pointed to the team's poor free throw shooting (50%) which cost the Bearcats the game in regulation. With the way DePaul and Cincy both shoot from the free throw line, Wednesday's game could look like a bricklayers convention.
One thing we can count on in this one is UC going uptempo.
"They're a really good team that really wants to get out in transition, force turnovers to try to create baskets for themselves," DePaul interim coach Tracy Webster told WSCR Radio. "They have great guard play in Deonta Vaughn (averaging 11.4 ppg), who didn't start the last game against Marquette, but I'm sure he'll probably start this game. He's a really, really good scorer who we'll definitely have to be aware of and try to keep him out of the lane. He's a big strong guard."
Then you have freshman phenom Lance Stephenson from New York who is averaging 11.2 pg. Stephenson told the Cincinnati Enquirer that will return for next season. Yet one has to wonder whether his one-on-one style of ball is better suited for the pros.
"Lance Stephenson is a big time freshman," Webster added. "He can go inside-out and is very athletic."
"Then they have a really big guy in Yancy Gates (10.2 ppg and 6.2 rebounds per game), he's huge," Webster said on his WSCR radio show. "He's an inside presence that we'll definitely have to be aware of. Then they have Dion Dixon (5.9 ppg), who is a Chicago guy who probably loves playing against DePaul. He's a really athletic wing guy who has been playing okay as of late as well."
The Blue Demons have been struggling on the glass recently, relying heavily on Mac Koshwal to corral all the rebounds. With the news today that they will be without the services of sophomore forward Eric Wallace for the rest of the season due to a left shin injury, DePaul will need to find someone who can step up on the boards.
Koshwal was named to this week's Big East Honor Roll in recognition of averaging 25 points, 11 rebounds and 4.5 steals in two games against Rutgers and Louisville last week.
Webster keeps saying that he is in search of a full 40 minute effort from his team. To do that, he might want to consider giving some of his journeymen a rest before the final home stretch in a game. Koshwal and senior guard Will Walker have been putting in 39 to 40 minutes a night and have shown signs of tired legs in the game's final minutes. If Webster can cut that back to 35 minutes and get Koshwal and Walker some needed rest in the second half, he might be more pleased with the result.
It will be very important to have fresh legs when facing the Bearcats.
"Overall, they're a pretty good team," Webster told WSCR radio. "Defensively, they're going to be physical. They may look to press a little bit, trap ball screens, and do a lot of different things to try to throw us off guard. We've pretty much seen everything so far this year. We just have to come ready and prepared and hopefully play a 40 minute game."
The Last Time
In March of 2009 in the opening round of the Big East tournament in New York City, the Blue Demons snapped their 18 game losing streak by putting away Cincinnati 67-57.
Will Walker and Dar Tucker scored 17 points apiece. All of Tucker's points came in the second half after being limited by foul trouble in the first half. Mac Koshwal had 12 points and nine rebounds.
Guard Deonta Vaughn scored 15 points for the Bearcats.
NO NAME HT WT POS CL EXP Hometown High School
1 Cashmere Wright 6-0 175 G RS FR HS Savannah, Ga. Urban Christian Academy
2 Eddie Tyree 5-10 175 G JR Tr. Canal Winchester, Ohio Groveport Madison
3 Dion Dixon 6-3 195 G SO 1L Chicago, Ill. Crane Technical Prep Common
5 Deonta Vaughn 6-1 190 G SR 3L Indianapolis, Ind. Harmony Community
10 Alex Eppensteiner 6-3 210 G FR HS Cincinnati, Ohio Elder
11 Larry Davis 6-3 195 G JR 2L Houston, Texas Alief-Hastings
15 Darnell Wilks 6-7 205 F JR 2L Nashville, Tenn. Pioneer Christian Academy
22 Rashad Bishop 6-6 225 F JR 2L Newark, N.J. Kennedy
23 Sean Kilpatrick 6-4 215 G FR HS White Plains, N.Y. Notre Dame Prep
25 Anthony McBride 6-2 176 G FR HS Cincinnati, Ohio Withrow
30 Anthony McClain 7-0 255 C JR 2L Trenton, N.J. National Christian Academy
32 Ibrahima Thomas 6-11 230 F JR Tr. Dakar, Senegal Stoneridge Prep
33 Lance Stephenson 6-5 210 G FR HS Brooklyn, N.Y. Abraham Lincoln
34 Yancy Gates 6-9 260 F SO 1L Cincinnati, Ohio Withrow
42 Steve Toyloy 6-8 255 C SR 1L West Palm Beach, Fla. Palm Beach Lakes
44 Jaquon Parker 6-3 210 G FR HS Suffolk, Va. King's Fork
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