Las Vegas, NV – The Oregon Ducks will try to knock off ranked opponents on back-to-back nights, as they take on No. 22 Cincinnati in the championship game of the Global Sports Classic.
Mick Cronin's Bearcats are never easy to tame. Cincinnati is now 5-0 to open the season with a 29.2 ppg average margin of victory. The team faced its first real test on Friday, but passed with flying colors as it shut down Iowa State and held the net-scorching Cyclones to 37.3 percent shooting after they had come in making 49.6 percent of their field goal attempts. The Bearcats were held about nine percentage points under their season average, but they converted 23-of-25 attempts at the charity stripe, scored 26 points off turnovers, and netted 18 fastbreak points to advance to the championship round.
Oregon had an even tougher matchup in the semifinals as it had to playe No. 18 UNLV on its home floor where the it had won 20 games in a row. Despite coming in with a perfect 4-0 record that featured four wins by double digits, the Ducks were not expected to take down the very talented and athletic Runnin' Rebels. Coach Dana Altman's squad came out poised and played as a team through a game that featured 21 lead chances and 11 ties. Despite making only 3-of-19 from beyond the arc and allowing UNLV's Anthony Bennett to collect his first career double-double, the Ducks ended the hosting school's home winning streak with an 83-79 decision.
This game marks just the second meeting between these two programs, and Cincinnati won the first back in 2002.
Cincinnati was challenged by Iowa State, as the Cyclones came within three points with 3:25 left to play. However, junior guard Sean Kilpatrick willed the team to victory with a career-high 32 points, which came courtesy of a perfect 16-of-16 performance at the free throw line. The junior, who also logged five steals, has elevated his game to become the team's leader as he had already posted scoring totals of 20 and 29 points earlier this season. Senior guard Cashmere Wright also got into the mix with 14 points and five assists. With JaQuon Parker struggling from the field (1-of-7), Titus Rubles delivered a spark off the bench with 10 points and five rebounds. Wright is now averaging 22 of the team's 88.8 ppg.
The Ducks' won on Friday despite a poor 3-of-10 shooting performance (1-of-6 3-PT) from their leading scorer, E.J. Singler. While the senior leader struggled, the team's rookie shooting guard Damyean Dotson stepped up to deliver a career-high 19 points. Singler (22 minutes) and Oregon's shot- blocking center Tony Woods (nine minutes) both fouled out, but Altman's reserve big men tandem of Carlos Emory and Arsalan Kazemi showed they could start for most teams across the nation. Emory went 6-of-9 from the field for 16 points and he added nine rebounds, while Kazemi tallied seven points and eight boards.