A look at the Bearcats
Marquette Golden Eagles (16-9, 7-6 Big East) at Cincinnati Bearcats (15-10, 6-7 Big East)
Fifth Third Arena – Cincinnati, OH
Sunday, 1 pm CST
TV: Big East Network/WMLW
The Golden Eagles will try and rebound after having their five-game winning streak snapped by Pittsburgh when they travel to Cincinnati to face their ex-Conference USA foes, the Bearcats.
Cincinnati enters Sunday's game coming off of a tough loss to South Florida, 65-57, Tuesday night in Tampa. The Bearcats are yet another middle-of-the-road Big East team that currently finds themselves on the NCAA tournament bubble in dire need of a few more wins.
Throughout the course of the year, Cincinnati has proven to be incredibly unpredictable. They began the season with some impressive decisions in Maui over the likes of Vanderbilt and Maryland before falling to Gonzaga in overtime of the Championship game. Since then however, the Bearcats have been all over the board. They've been soundly beat by Notre Dame and UAB as well as dropping a two-point game to an under-achieving St. John's team.
Leading the way for Mick Cronin's bunch is freshman-of-the-year candidate, Lance Stephenson. The highly-touted guard from Brooklyn is a high-energy player and is currently the team's leading scorer. He fits the prototypical mold of a ‘slasher' in that he likes to take his defender off the dribble and get into the lane, but he also keeps you honest with his ability to knock down the outside shot.
Pairing alongside Stevenson in the backcourt is Deonta Vaughn. The senior point guard had been the team's leading scorer the past two years and is always a threat to go off on big scoring runs. While Vaughn's numbers have gone down from years past as he has seemed to fall more into a pure point guard role, he can still hurt you from beyond the arc. On eight occasions this season he has knocked down three or more three-point field goals.
Continuing Cincinnati's physical tradition is a deep frontcourt lead by Yancy Gates. The sophomore forward has intimidating size but still manages to possess great touch. Gates uses his large frame to create prime position in the paint where he likes to do most of his damage. He can and will however step outside to shoot a ten-to-fifteen foot jumper, so this part of his game must also be respected.
Cronin has experimented with several different lineups this season, and recently he has had Gates come off the bench, deferring to senior Steve Toyloy and Junior Ibrahima Thomas. Like Gates, both Thomas and Toyloy hold great size and can cause huge problems for teams who lack the big bodies to keep them off the glass.
Playing into their size, Cincinnati tends to like a half-court game. The Bearcats can get out and run in transition because they are an athletic bunch, but if they get to dictate the tempo they would prefer to play at a bit slower of a pace than Marquette.
One would think that Cincinnati would try and get the ball inside early and often, looking to take advantage of their size while also hoping to wear down Lazar Hayward and Jimmy Butler. The Golden Eagles will need a much better defensive effort on the interior than they gave against Pittsburgh if they want to win Sunday – key to this will be putting solid ball pressure on the perimeter to prevent interior passes. Look for Marquette to try and speed up the game and get out in transition whenever possible.
Probable Bearcat Starters
G – Lance Stephenson (6'5" 210 lb Freshman) --- (11.6 ppg, 5 rpg)
G – Deonta Vaughn (6'1" 190 lb Senior) --- (11.6 ppg, 3.5 apg)
F – Rashad Bishop (6'6" 225 lb Junior) --- (7.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
F – Ibrahima Thomas (6'11" 238 lb Junior) --- (5.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
C – Steve Toyloy (6'8" 255 lb Senior) --- (3.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg)
F – Yancy Gates (6'9" 260 lb Sophomore) --- (10.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg)
G – Dion Dixon (6'3" 195 lb Sophomore) --- (5.7 ppg, 2.1 apg)
G – Cashmere Wright (6'0" 175 lb Freshman) --- (6.0 ppg, 1.8 apg)
Head Coach: Mick Cronin (54-60 4th season, 124-84 7th season overall)
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