7:00 PM ET, January 6, 2011
Fifth Third Arena, Cincinnati, OH
It took Cincinnati's best start in 12 seasons to get it back among the nation's elite for the first time in more than a year. Staying there for another week is going to be a tall order.The No. 24 Bearcats look to extend their season-opening winning streak to 15 games as they host Xavier in the Crosstown Shootout on Thursday night.Cincinnati (14-0) is off to its best start since winning its first 15 games of the 1998-99 season, and the current streak is its longest in any one season since a 20-game run during 2001-02.The Bearcats' impressive run this season, in part due to a soft schedule, has put them back in the AP Poll for the first time since it was ranked 25th on Dec. 14, 2009.The schedule becomes more difficult with their annual game against the arch-rival Musketeers (8-4) followed by a road game Sunday at No. 7 Villanova.Before playing the Wildcats, Cincinnati seeks to remain unbeaten at home, where it's 10-0 and outscoring opponents by an average of 19.6 points. It is the longest home streak at Fifth Third Arena since winning 13 in a row bridging the 2003-04 and 2005-06 seasons.The Bearcats continued their strong defensive play Friday with a 70-53 win over Seton Hall to improve to 2-0 in Big East play. They're giving up 54.4 points per game, ranking third in the nation, and limiting opponents to 37.5 percent shooting and 29.3 from 3-point range.Cincinnati held the Pirates to 33.3 percent from the floor, the sixth straight opponent it held under 40 percent.Offensively, the Bearcats are led by juniors Dion Dixon (12.7 points per game), Yancy Gates (11.5) and freshman Sean Kilpatrick (10.1). The trio combined for 32 points Friday, as Kilpatrick scored 14 off the bench.Gates is also second on the team with an average of 6.6 rebounds. The junior forward, a Cincinnati native, had 18 points and six boards in an 83-79 double-overtime loss to Xavier on Dec. 13, 2009.The Bearcats, one of seven ranked teams in the Big East, have lost three straight to Xavier. However, they hold a 47-30 advantage overall, winning six of 10 meetings at Fifth Third Arena.Xavier, which has lost both its road games this season, might be relishing the chance to potentially knock Cincinnati out of the Top 25. The Musketeers, though, have lost two of three after a 71-67 defeat to Florida on Friday ended their school-record 30-game home winning streak."We struggle to score. It's who we are," coach Chris Mack said. "We are not a great three-point shooting team. We've got to rely on more than one or two players."Juniors Tu Holloway and Kenny Frease are two of those players.Holloway totaled 26 points and six assists Friday, and the guard is second in the Atlantic 10 with averages of 21.3 points and 5.6 assists. He had 26 points in the Musketeers' victory over then-No. 19 Cincinnati last season.Frease is adding an strong inside presence to Xavier and has connected on 14 of 19 shots to total 33 points with 16 rebounds over the last two games. The center is averaging 11.7 points and 7.8 boards."Whether Kenny comes off the bench or starts, he's a huge part of our basketball team," Mack said. "He's playing the best basketball of his career."Xavier opens its conference schedule at Rhode Island on Sunday.
|Avg Points Allowed||64.5||59.2|
|Conference||Atlantic 10||Big East|
|» Jan 6, 2011||@CIN 66, XAV 46||Recap|