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No. 25 Cincinnati sends Mississippi State to 1st loss 65-50

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HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (AP) — No. 25 Cincinnati had plummeted to the fringe of the rankings and needed a confidence boost. The Bearcats got it against a previously unbeaten team.

Jacob Evans III had 24 points and eight rebounds as Cincinnati recovered from its back-to-back losses and handed Mississippi State its first defeat, 65-50 on Tuesday night.

The Bearcats (8-2) were coming off losses to crosstown rival Xavier and Florida that dropped them from No. 11. They ended the slump with a solid defensive showing against the Southeastern Conference’s last unbeaten team, blocking 11 shots.

“We needed to get this win for us to build our confidence and get this thing back on track,” Evans said.

Mississippi State (8-1) was off to its best start since 2003-04. The Bulldogs struggled to make shots in their first game against a ranked team. They missed 10 straight in the first half and 14 in a row in the second as Cincinnati blew open a close game.

“I think we took a multitude of things away from them,” said Kyle Washington, who added 16 points. “We knew what we wanted to do on defense. We were locked in on how they played well as a team. We just wanted to take all of that away.”

Aric Holman matched his career high with 18 points and had 10 rebounds for Mississippi State, which shot a season-low 30 percent from the field. The Bulldogs weren’t ready for Cincinnati’s defense.

“We lost the game tonight because of our inability to attack that zone,” coach Ben Howland said. “We were standing way too much, not enough ball movement, not enough cutting and getting the ball inside.”

Cincinnati has won 31 straight home games , the longest streak in the nation. The Bearcats are playing this season at BB&T Arena at Northern Kentucky University while their on-campus arena is renovated. They went 18-0 at Fifth Third Arena last season.

BIG PICTURE

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs can’t get that breakthrough win against a ranked team. They have dropped 18 in a row against teams in the Top 25. Their last such win was 67-57 over Arizona on Nov. 18, 2011.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats’ offense was stymied during the losses to Xavier and Florida. Cincinnati shot 41 percent from the field against Mississippi State but scored 22 points off 14 Bulldogs turnovers.

“This was a defensive victory, no question about it,” coach Mick Cronin said. “We’re still searching on offense a little bit at times.”

DRY SPELLS

Mississippi State went nearly 7 minutes without a field goal in the first half, managing only one free throw, as Cincinnati took control. The Bulldogs’ 14 straight misses in the second half helped Cincinnati pull ahead by 19 points. The Bulldogs shot 45 percent or better in their eight wins, including four games at 50 percent or better.

FIRST TRIP

It was the first road game for Mississippi State, which was picked to finish 12th in the SEC preseason poll. Howland figured it will help get the Bulldogs ready for conference play.

“Cincinnati is like an upper-echelon SEC team, so it’s very similar,” Howland said.

QUOTE OF THE GAME

Cronin on the back-to-back losses: “I was just concerned about the guys’ confidence level. It’s hard to shield them from the social media and the outside world. Young people live in that world, and I’m sure the sky was falling in that world because we lost a few games.”

UP NEXT

Mississippi State plays at UT Martin on Saturday.

Cincinnati plays UCLA at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday, a rematch against the team that knocked the Bearcats out of the NCAA Tournament 79-67 in the second round last season.

Four takeaways from No. 21 Xavier’s win over No. 11 Cincinnati

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The latest edition of the Crosstown Shootout was played Saturday afternoon, and the “first punch” was the most decisive as No. 21 Xavier jumped No. 11 Cincinnati from the start and went on to win by the final score of 89-76. Trevon Bluiett, who scored 40 points in last season’s meeting, led the way with 28 and Kerem Kanter added 17 off the bench for the Musketeers. While some Xavier turnovers led to Cincinnati making a run in the second half, the Bearcats were unable to truly threaten the Musketeers down the stretch.

Here are four takeaways from Xavier handing Cincinnati its first loss of the season.

1. Xavier turned the tables after getting dominated on the glass in last season’s meeting.

Given what happened in Cincinnati’s 86-78 win, with Mick Cronin’s team controlling the rebounding department, it wasn’t difficult to figure out what Xavier’s point of emphasis would be going into the rematch. And the Musketeer big men stepped up to the challenge, as Kaiser Gates grabbed ten rebounds while also scoring ten points and Kanter chipped in with 17 points off the bench. Outside of Gates the effort on the glass was a collective one, with Tyrique Jones, Naji Marshall and Sean O’Mara grabbing four rebounds apiece and Quentin Goodin (ten points, eight assists) finishing with five.

In last season’s meeting Cincinnati finished with an offensive rebounding percentage of 47.4 percent, while Xavier managed to grab just 28.1 percent of its misses. Those second chance opportunities made a difference then, and that was the case Saturday afternoon as well. This time around the Bearcats managed to corral just 22.0 percent of its misses, while Xavier finished with an offensive rebounding percentage of 41.9 percent.

2. Cincinnati will need more from Kyle Washington moving forward.

Washington entered Saturday’s game averaging 10.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, and while those numbers are lower than what the fifth-year senior produced in 2016-17 (12.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg) he’s still been a consistent contributor for the Bearcats. That was not the case Saturday, as Washington played just 15 minutes and went scoreless (0-for-4 FG) with just two rebounds. Gary Clark and Tre Scott held their own on the boards, grabbing seven rebounds apiece.

That being said, given the number of contributors in the paint for Xavier this was a game where Cincinnati needed more from Washington. He’s certainly capable of better performances, so it would come as no surprise if he were to bounce back from Saturday’s outing in short order.

3. Cincinnati is too talented to settle offensively as it did for much of the first half.

While Xavier’s excellent execution was a big reason why the Musketeers were able to jump out to a big lead, Cincinnati’s offensive issues did not help matters for the visitors. Far too often in the first half the Bearcats settled for challenged shots, on a couple occasions passing up open catch and shoot opportunities to dribble into a tougher shot. Cincinnati was better in this regard in the second half, with Jacob Evans III scoring 22 of his 23 points in the final 20 minutes and Jarron Cumberland (15 points) getting going as well.

If not for the production of Clark (ten first-half points) and Cane Broome (12 first-half points, 16 for the game) in the first half, the outcome could have been much worse for Cincinnati. While Wyoming should be a contender in the Mountain West, Saturday’s game at Xavier was Cincinnati’s first major test of the season. One lesson the Bearcats should take out of this defeat is that they’ve got too much offensive talent to not be “greedy” on offense.

4. Trevon Bluiett looked like his old self after two quiet outings.

After scoring at least 20 points in each of Xavier’s first five games, Bluiett scored a total of 21 points in games against Arizona State and Baylor. Bluiett’s been dealing with a lower back issue dating back to last week’s Las Vegas Invitational, but he looked to have that spring in his step against Cincinnati. Bluiett had it all working in the first half, hitting open jumpers and getting to the basket off the bounce as well.

Bluiett shot 7-for-14 from the field (5-for-10 3PT) and 9-for-11 from the foul line in what was an efficient performance reminiscent of his first five outings this season. When the back isn’t an issue Bluiett is one of the toughest offensive matchups in the country, because of his ability to find and make shots from anywhere on the court.

No. 12 Cincinnati uses strong start to defeat Richmond 75-48

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GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands (AP) — Unlike the previous night, Cincinnati didn’t need a hero on Tuesday night.

Instead, the 12th-ranked Bearcats relied on their defense, smothering Richmond in the first half and cruising into the championship game of the Cayman Islands Classic with a 75-48 win over the Spiders.

Cane Broome led a balanced attack with 13 points and Jacob Evans added 12 for the Bearcats (5-0).

Jarron Cumberland opened the scoring with 3-pointers on consecutive possessions and Evans hit another before the Spiders scored and when Justin Jenifer hit a 3 just beyond the five-minute mark Cincinnati was up 14-4.

The Bearcats hit 8 of 14 3-pointers and shot 54 percent overall to race to a 40-14 lead at the half and Wyoming’s opponent for Wednesday’s championship game was never in doubt. Five different Cincinnati players had six to nine points while forcing the Spiders (1-3) into 13 turnovers and 4-of-18 shooting.

“The first half, we played great defensively and on offense, when we did make the right pass, we found open shooters,” Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. “We try to start the best defensive lineup. We want to focus on things that win games, defense, rebounding, physicality, and guys that play together.”

Jenifer went 3 of 4 from behind the arc, scoring all nine of his points in the first half. Gary Clark, the leader in a hard-fought 73-68 win over Buffalo in the opener on Monday night with 24 points and 14 rebounds, had his eight points — all in the first half — and finished with eight rebounds and seven assists.

Richmond made five 3-pointers and went 12 of 24 from the field but never challenged in the second half.

“Obviously Richmond has a young team,” Cronin said. “I thought Buffalo made us better last night. We were able to jump out to an early lead and put the game away with our defense.

Freshman Jacob Gilyard led the Spiders with 12 points.

BIG PICTURE

Richmond: Gilyard was leading the nation’s true freshmen in playing time, averaging 37.3 minutes a game. He played 32 in the loss. … Grant Golden, a redshirt freshman, had 26 points in a win over UAB in the opener, the most by a Spider freshman in 10 years and with his seven rebounds was the first UR frosh with a 20 and 7 line since 1999. The Bearcats held him to four points and one rebound on Tuesday. … Khwan Fore, Richmond’s leading scorer last year, made his debut after missing the first three games recovering from a stress reaction in his left shin. He went 1 for 1 from the foul line with a rebound and an assist and three fouls. … The Spiders have one senior and five juniors.

Cincinnati: Freshman Sam Martin scored his first points, making a pair of free throws. … The Bearcats had 20 assists on 25 baskets but they also had 20 turnovers, 11 in the second half. But in that first half had a 16-0 advantage in points off turnovers. … With reserves seeing plenty of time, Cincinnati’s bench outscored Richmond’s 38-17, 28-15 in the second half.

NEXT GAME

Richmond will face Louisiana-Lafayette in the third place game Wednesday night.

Cincinnati meets Wyoming in the championship game Wednesday night.

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For more AP college basketball coverage: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Cincinnati loses senior big man Quadri Moore to transfer

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Cincinnati will be without senior big man Quadri Moore this season as he has opted to transfer to a new program, according to a release from the school.

The 6-foot-8 Moore was a reserve for the Bearcats the last three seasons as he never averaged more than 8.2 minutes per game. Once regarded as a top-150 recruit coming out of high school, Moore could never crack the Cincinnati rotation during his three seasons with the school.

This past season, Moore averaged 2.9 points and 1.4 rebounds per game as he’ll likely have to sit out the 2017-18 season before completing his final year of eligibility elsewhere. While Moore was never able to crack the rotation for a perennial NCAA tournament team, it’ll be intriguing to see where he ends up because Moore could still be a solid contributor at a lower-level program.

Cincinnati finds new home for 2017-18 season while arena is renovated

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Cincinnati will spend the 2017-18 season in a new arena as Fifth Third Arena will be undergoing renovations next season.

The Bearcats announced on Friday that they would play next season at BB&T Arena, which is Northern Kentucky’s home arena.

The 9,400 seat BB&T Arena is a good alternative for Cincinnati because it is a newer arena that was built in 2008 and it is only located seven miles away from downtown Cincinnati.

Fifth Third Arena is getting an $87 million renovation that begins in March and is scheduled to end in October 2018.

 

This is a solid move for both programs as it will be intriguing to see how two Division I teams share the same home arena for one season. My biggest question comes with the home floor. Is Cincinnati spending all season playing with Northern Kentucky logos on the hardwood?

Cincinnati had to find something during its arena overhaul so this is a natural solution that is still relatively close to campus.

Northern Kentucky is the big winner in this. BB&T Arena will get a lot of new fans coming there next season and that should only enhance the Northern Kentucky basketball brand in that area. Some Cincinnati fans could check out a game at that arena for the first time, realize how nice of a facility it is, and come back for a Northern Kentucky game or another event at the arena. That’s what Northern Kentucky gains from all of this.

Cincinnati’s larger national profile also means that a healthy amount of nationally-televised games should be coming from that arena as well, which gives it even more visibility.

 

No. 21 Rhode Island overcomes slow start, injury to beat No. 24 Cincinnati

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Rhode Island had every reason to fold after the first half against No. 24 Cincinnati.

The No. 21 Rams got off to a sluggish start and things looked potentially ugly when starting guard Jarvis Garrett left the game on a stretcher after a nasty fall.

But Rhode Island rallied in the second half behind a balanced scoring attack to erase a 12-point deficit and win 76-71 on Saturday afternoon at the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off semifinals at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.

Garrett was scoreless when he was taken out of the game, but his fellow Rams starters picked up the slack. All four finished in double-figures as E.C. Matthews buried the dagger three-pointer with under a minute left and finished with 18 points. Jared Terrell and Hassan Martin both tallied 14 points while Kuran Iverson added 13 points and 12 rebounds.

The Rhode Island defense did a nice job of slowing down two key Cincinnati players as Troy Caupain (12 points, 4-for-14 shooting) and Gary Clark (four points, 1-for-5 shooting) both had off-nights.

Sophomore Jacob Evans and Junior Kyle Washington both had strong outings for the Bearcats. Washington, the N.C. State transfer, showed a versatile scoring package on his way to 23 points. Washington also added eight rebounds and was 2-for-3 from three-point range but didn’t get a lot of chances to create offense down the stretch.

When Cincinnati (2-1) was balanced offensively early in the game, they looked like a very strong team as Caupain was primarily involved. Washington looked tough to guard one-on-one and Evans (25 points) was also doing a lot of damage. Cincinnati could never find a consistent third scorer after Caupain’s start as their offense sputtered in the second half. Evans is going to be a consistent scorer and you hope that Washington is able to keep contributing like that, but Caupain and Clark need to step up more in the scoring column.

Rhode Island (4-0) moves on to face No. 1 Duke tomorrow in the championship game at Mohegan Sun. Even though the Blue Devils are battling plenty of injuries to rotation players, it should be a good test for the Rams against another top-flight opponent.