Saturday, Nov. 29, 2008 | 2:08 a.m.
Cincinnati Bearcats (4-1) at UNLV Rebels (5-1)
- Where: Thomas & Mack Center
- When: 5 p.m.
- Coaches: Mick Cronin is 28-39 in three seasons at Cincinnati and 97-63 in six overall seasons; Lon Kruger is 96-43 in five seasons at UNLV and 414-276 in 23 overall seasons.
- Series: Cincinnati leads, 4-0
- Last time: The Bearcats won, 74-61, in Cincinnati in 2001
- TV/Radio: None/ESPN Radio 1100-AM
- G Deonta Vaughn (6-1, 190) 12 ppg, 4.8 apg, 3.5 rpg
- G Larry Davis (6-3, 195) 8 ppg
- F Mike Williams (6-7, 240) 9.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg
- F Rashad Bishop (6-6, 225) 5.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg
- F Yancy Gates (6-9, 260) 9.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg
- Bench: F Alvin Mitchell (6-5, 210) 11.3 ppg; C Anthony McClain (7-0, 225) 8 ppg, 5.3 rpg; C Steve Toyloy (6-8, 255) 6.3 ppg, 6 rpg; G Dion Dixon (6-3, 195) 4.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg; F Darnell Wilks (6-7, 205) 3.8 ppg
- What to watch: Above stats do not reflect Friday’s 58-47 loss to Florida State. Vaughn led the Bearcats with 16 points but he shot only 5-for-18 from the field. He played 37 minutes, so expect to see a lot of him. Cincy had 8 assists to 19 turnovers against the Seminoles. Williams, the former Texas Longhorn, had 11 points (on 4-of-5 shooting) and 11 boards Friday.
- G Tre’Von Willis (6-4, 195) 7.8 ppg, 2.8 apg
- G Wink Adams (6-0, 200) 15.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.3 apg
- F Rene Rougeau (6-6, 210) 8.5 ppg, 8 rpg, 2 bpg
- F Joe Darger (6-7, 225) 9.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg
- C Darris Santee (6-8, 225) 6.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg
- Bench: G Oscar Bellfield (6-2, 175) 8.3 ppg, 3.3 apg; F DeShawn Mitchell (6-5, 205) 5.3 ppg, 2 rpg; G Kendall Wallace (6-4, 190) 5.2 ppg; F Mo Rutledge (6-3, 225) 4.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg; C Beas Hamga (7-0, 225) 1 ppg; C Brice Massamba (6-10, 255) 2.2 ppg.
- What to watch: That game Friday was ugly, eh? Last season, UNLV lost to Louisville by 20 and bounced back to beat UNR by 12 in its next game. Adams is on a cold stretch, hitting only 4 of his past 19 3-point attempts. Rougeau had 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals, but that 1-for-9 shooting performance Friday sticks out.
Two teams facing their first major tests of the season, two very different results.
Just after California exited the Thomas & Mack Center floor Friday night having aced its game, defeating host UNLV 73-55 in the Global Sports Classic, Cincinnati (4-1) failed its in an ugly 58-47 loss to Florida State.
In the Bearcats' first trip away from the Queen City, foul trouble and a lack of intensity led them to a 5 p.m. date Saturday evening with the Rebels.
"It's gonna be a much bigger challenge -- they have a great homecourt advantage," said third-year coach Mick Cronin. "They're gonna be just as upset or more upset than we are about our performances tonight."
One similarity between the showings of Cincy and UNLV was poor shooting. While the Rebels hit just 19 of their 64 field goal attempts, the Bearcats were just 18-of-54. Another was the struggles had by each team's leading scorer. UNLV's Wink Adams scored 10 points on just 3-of-14 shooting, and Cincy's Deonta Vaughn -- who Adams may wind up guarding Saturday -- scored a game-high 16 on 5-of-18 efficiency.
"We figured this was gonna be our first big test," Vaughn said. "We saw how hard you've got to play, some of the young guys experienced it. I've just got to come out, play harder, better, being the leader on this team. I blame it on myself because I didn't have everyone else ready to play."
Cronin's biggest concern sounded like it was with the play of his big men. Senior forward Mike Williams, a Texas transfer, put up a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, but was relegated to just 25 minutes of run, spending much of the night in foul trouble.
Williams is one of just two seniors on the Cincy roster. The other five big men Cronin ran out there included one junior, four sophomores and a freshman.
"Mike has 11 (points) in 25 minutes," Cronin said. "And I thought our other guys didn't rise to the occasion."
Between the other bigs -- Rashad Bishop, Yancy Gates, Darnell Wilks, Alvin Mitchell, Anthony McClain and Steve Toyloy -- they combined for just nine points and 12 rebounds in 94 minutes on the floor.
Cincinnati actually held a lead as big as eight points at 15-7 in the first half before things fell apart. Aside from getting outperformed underneath, 15 Bearcat turnovers were turned into 25 Seminole points.
"If we don't turn the ball over, we'd have a great chance to win the game," Cronin added.
Now the Bearcats have just 24 hours to turn the shouldas, couldas and wouldas into potential positives. If they thought the first test of the season showed what needed to be improved on, they might know a whole lot more about themselves after trying to correct those mistakes with such a quick turnaround.
Cronin said he hasn't had chances to see UNLV very much, but knows of Lon Kruger's reputation in the coaching world. Vaughn added that the Cincy players couldn't watch the UNLV-Cal game since they were told there weren't any seats available in the arena for them to do so.
"It changes a lot," Cronin said of the turnaround. "I'd love to be able to practice tomorrow, but we're gonna have an opportunity to turn around, go out and play a lot harder than we played today. Hopefully we're gonna be able to do that. With a young team, it's a concern."