Cincinnati (14-3) at DePaul (10-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, January 15, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Allstate Arena (17,500) -- Rosemont, Illinois. Television: FSN-OH, Big East Network, MASN. Home Record: Cincinnati 8-3. DePaul 6-3. Away Record: Cincinnati 3-0, DePaul 0-7. Neutral Record: Cincinnati 3-0, DePaul 0-2. Conference Record: Cincinnati 2-2, DePaul 1-2. Series Record: Cincinnati leads, 34-15.
GAMES NOTES: After dropping out of the national rankings on Monday the Cincinnati Bearcats visit the DePaul Blue Demons at Allstate Arena for a Big East Conference clash Tuesday night.
Cincinnati was the No. 14 team in the country on in the month but a two-game slide a week ago dropped the Bearcats out of the top-25, despite a 68-58 victory over Rutgers in their last outing. Cincinnati is now 14-3 this season, with all three of those setbacks coming in the last five games. The Bearcats have played only three true road games but have come out on top in each, while splitting four league matchups. Next up Cincinnati will return home to host Marquette.
Lofty aspirations were not expected by DePaul this season. The Blue Demons have lost three of their last four contests after a 99-78 rout on the road to Connecticut, dropping the team to 10-6 overall and just 1-2 against Big East competition. When the Blue Demons have been on the floor at the Allstate Arena they have earned six wins in nine tries. DePaul will face St. John's at home before a two-game road trip.
These former Conference USA rivals have met 49 times previously. In that time the Bearcats have dominated with a 34-15 record, including victories in four straight contests coming in.
Despite shooting just 29 percent in the first half against Rutgers, the Bearcats managed to earn a 27-15 lead at the break and then hold on in the second half when they shot 50 percent to earn the win. The Bearcats held the Scarlet Knights to just 37.7 percent shooting, including a paltry four total field goals in the first half.
Leading the way for Cincinnati is Sean Kilpatrick (17.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg). The 6- foot-4 guard is ranked in the top 10 in the Big East in scoring and with his sizable frame in the backcourt he can also crash the boards better than most guards. The Bearcats are rather talented in the backcourt beyond Kilpatrick with Cashmere Wright (14.8 ppg, 3.5 apg) and JaQuon Parker (11.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg) also producing well from the perimeter. The Bearcats don't get much scoring from the frontcourt but Titus Rubles (6.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Cheikh Mbodj (5.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg) are still important pieces, Mbodj especially as the is second in the Big East in blocks (2.3 pg). With Mbodj patrolling the paint and the backcourt trio hounding teams on the wings the Bearcats are giving up only 57.9 points per game on 36.6 percent shooting which are both marks within the top 30 in the country. Controlling the boards is also a strength with the Bearcats the second-best rebounding team in the country (43.4 pg).
On their way to surrendering their highest point total of the season, the Blue Demons allowed UConn to shoot at a 49.3 percent clip while being outscored 21-11 from the free-throw line. The Blue Demons were dominated on the boards with 20 fewer rebounds than the Huskies. DePaul lost despite a mammoth 35- point effort from Brandon Young.
If each team needed just two players, DePaul might be one of the best squads in the conference. The inside-outside duo of Young (17.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg) and Cleveland Melvin (!6.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg) have been a powerful force for DePaul and one of very few consistent contributors. Young has scored in double figures in all but one game while Melvin has failed to do so only twice. Jamee Crockett (9.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg) is the third-leading scorer on the roster but the only other player scoring more than seven points per game. Thanks almost entirely to Young and Melvin the Blue Demons are the fourth-highest scoring team in the Big East (75.3 ppg), despite ranking just ninth in field goal percentage (.451). DePaul has been much less successful on the defensive end in comparison to the Bearcats as the Blue Demons are letting up 69.4 points per game on 42.0 percent shooting.
The depth and balance of Cincinnati will push the Bearcats, who are looking to pick up momentum once again. The Bearcats have too much talent up and down the roster for DePaul which is still looking for contributions beyond Melvin and Young.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cincinnati 74, DePaul 64
01/15 10:33:36 ET