Cincinnati Basketball: Four-Guard Offense Leads Bearcats to Top of Big East

Alex CallosCorrespondent IJanuary 18, 2012

WASHINGTON - MARCH 17:  Dion Dixon #3 of the Cincinnati Bearcats puts up a shot against the Missouri Tigers during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Verizon Center on March 17, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

After starting the season losing three of their first eight games, the Cincinnati Bearcats have won nine of their last ten games, including seven-straight Big East road games dating back to last season.

That number is virtually unimaginable for any team, let alone the Bearcats.

They have been getting those wins by playing hard defense and taking care of the ball on offense.

The ball security can be pinned primarily on the new four-guard offense. An offense that only turned the ball over three times on Saturday in an 82-78 win over Villanova. That number tied a school record.

Leading the way in the four-guard offense is sophomore Sean Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick leads the team, averaging 16.2 points per game and can score from anywhere on the court.

Senior guard Dion Dixon is second on the team with an average of 14.1 points a night.

Point guard Cashmere Wright anchors the offense and averages 10.3 points and five assists a night. Wright is the key to the offense.

The final member of the four-guard offense is Jaquon Parker. Parker missed the early part of the season with a groin injury, but has come on strong in recent weeks and averages 9.3 points a game while shooting an amazing 58 percent from downtown.

The group is eerily reminiscent of the Villanova four-guard offense from 2006 and probably gave head coach Jay Wright flashbacks on Saturday of the top five team he took to the Elite Eight a few years ago.

That offense had a little more talent than Cincinnati and included the likes of Randy Foye, Kyle Lowry, Allan Ray and Mike Nardi.

There was clearly NBA talent in that group which may not be the case for Cincinnati, but the basic principles are the same and Cincinnati has a difference-maker in the middle that Villanova did not.

That difference-make is senior Yancy Gates, the most talented player on the Cincinnati roster. While he averages 12 points and nine rebounds a game, he does so much on the defensive side of the ball and plays very well with the four guards around him.

Those four guards will be tested tonight when Cincinnati puts its road winning streak on the line against No. 11 Connecticut.

With the exception of No. 1 Syracuse, Connecticut has more talent and size than anybody in the conference. This will certainly be a tall order for head coach Mick Cronin and his Bearcats squad.

If they can win the game it will go a long way toward locking up their NCAA Tournament hopes, also proving that speed and quickness is sometimes hard for talent and size to match up with.