Cincinnati Basketball: Bearcats vs Scarlett Knights, Preview and Analysis

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Cincinnati Basketball: Bearcats vs Scarlett Knights, Preview and Analysis
Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 24 Cincinnati Bearcats (16-4, 4-3 Big East) are set to take on the Rutgers Scarlett Knights (12-7, 3-5 Big East) on Wednesday night at Fifth Third Arena after an eight-day break following their 57-55 loss to then-No. 3 Syracuse on Jan. 21.

UC beat Rutgers 68-58 in Piscataway on Jan. 12 in a game that was won with defense, rebounding and points at the free-throw line.

Cincinnati held Rutgers to only 15 points and 21.1 percent shooting in the first half. The Scarlett Knights didn’t get into double figures until there was 4:25 left in the first half. According to ESPN, Rutgers’ 15 points in the first half was only one point better than the lowest they have ever scored in Big East play.

The Bearcats held the Scarlett Knights’ leading scorer Eli Carter, who averages 15.4 points per game this season, to only six points, going 1-of-11 from the field and 0-of-6 from behind the arc.

Only one Scarlett Knight scored more than eight points. Myles Mack scored 15 points on 4-of-8 shooting, including three successful three-pointers.

The Bearcats had three players reach double figures in the game. Cashmere Wright led the team with 23 points, while JaQuon Parker had 11 and Sean Kilpatrick had 10.

UC controlled the offensive and defensive boards in the game. The Bearcats had 15 offensive rebounds to Rutgers’ 11 and 23 defensive rebounds to Rutgers’ 21. Cincinnati’s Titus Rubles led all players with 11 rebounds and also scored seven points.

Both teams shot 20-of-53 (37 percent) in the game, including five made three-pointers for each, but the 10 point difference in the game can be attributed to Cincinnati’s 23 points at the line compared to Rutgers’ 13.

Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin has preached the importance of solid defense and rebounding for years, and their importance was evident in the first meeting between these two teams this season.

If Cincinnati can duplicate its defensive performance from its win against Rutgers in their first meeting, then getting back in the win column shouldn't be much of a problem.

Then again, it's hard to predict what's going to happen in the Big East this season or in college basketball for that matter.

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