Coming off their most impressive victory since beating Kentucky to advance to the 2003 Final Four, Marquette will battle long time conference rival Cincinnati on Saturday morning. The Bearcats now play in the Big East with Marquette and are led by first year coach Andy Kennedy, but they are still the same ole cruisin' bruisin' team has dominated college basketball for over a decade.
"They are so great at running the ball up and down the floor," said Head Coach Tom Crean, who owns a 5-6 career record against Cincinnati. "They have great guards and big men that can score and certainly rebound."
After a win over #2 Connecticut this week, Marquette must be careful to not overlook Cincinnati. The Bearcats come into Milwaukee sporting a 12-2 record, but have won nine games in a row. Recently, Cincy has defeated Dayton, LSU, Depaul, all by convincing scoring margins. Their starting lineup features three seniors led by forward Eric Hicks, who averages an impressive 14.6 points and 8.7 rebounds.
Crean compared Cincy to UConn in the strength of their big men, especially Hicks. "He is one of the best rebounders in America. We know what kind of player he is and we know what he likes to do, but the bottom line is you have to match up with him the entire game."
Try talking to anyone in the Marquette camp about a "let down." It's not going to happen. The team's focus has been on preparing for Cincinnati as if it were just another game and another bump in the very rocky road of the Big East Conference.
"We haven't been concerned with a letdown," said freshmen guard Jerel Mcneal, who poured in a career high 19 points against Connecticut. "We have been focusing on Cincinnati all week and in our minds, I can't think of anything better than having another great team come in here."
Another interesting subplot to watch will be the play of Marquette senior forward Steve Novak, who comes off his career high in points and rebounds in his last game. It's hard to top a 41 point, 16 rebound performance against one of the nation's best teams, but Novak is looking forward to getting back on the court.
"I think we all know it is a long season," said Novak. "We prepare for every game to win it and we are doing the same thing for every game. This game is no different."
Bearing Down on Cincy
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