A pair of teams on opposite ends of the Division I spectrum will match up at Fifth Third Arena on Saturday afternoon when the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks take on the 11th-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats.
The past few years have been pretty miserable for UMES and the 2012-13 campaign isn't shaping up any better. After a 100-68 thrashing by Maryland on Wednesday the Hawks are now winless in eight tries this season which extends their overall losing streak to 11 games dating back to last season. A small part of the issue has been UMES' schedule which has yet to feature a home game. That won't change anytime soon as the Hawks have three more road games left before the home opener in mid-January.
Cincinnati is a perfect 8-0 following an 87-53 beating of Arkansas-Little Rock on Thursday night. That win improved the Bearcats to 6-0 at Fifth Third Arena this season, where the Bearcats have spent most of their time early on. Cincinnati began the season at No. 24 in the national rankings and has risen to No. 11 during its hot start. Cincinnati takes to the road in its next two games when it faces Marshall before a big-time rematch with cross-town rival Xavier.
The Hawks were buried on both ends of the floor against Maryland on Wednesday. UMES shot just 31.9 percent in the game and allowed the Terrapins to knock down 61.3 percent of their shots from the floor including a 10-of-20 effort from beyond the arc. Maryland was able to get the ball to whatever spot it wanted on the floor, racking up 27 assists to just six from the Hawks. Kyree Jones poured n 24 points and was one of only six players to score at all in the game for UMES.
As might be expected, UMES has not had much success on either end of the floor this year. The Hawks are scoring only 57.6 points per game and shooting at a 34.1 percent clip. The Hawks' shooting percentage is actually the second worst mark of 347 programs at the Division I level. On the other end the Hawks are letting up 74.0 points per game while teams shoot 51.4 percent from the field. The Hawks also suffer from a large disparity in rebounds (-7.0) and assists (-7.7). Jones (15.5 ppg) has been one of very few consistent scorers. Jones has taken on a great deal of responsibility in that regard putting up at least 10 shots per game in six contests this season but he is only connecting on 39.2 percent of those. Troy Snyder (12.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg) is also scoring in double figures and is the top rebounder on the roster. Snyder likewise has been erratic in shooting the ball (34.8 FG percentage). Other than Ishaq Pitt, (7.1 ppg) no other player is scoring more than seven points per game.
Cincinnati played well on both ends of the floor en route to easily getting past Arkansas-Little Rock on Thursday. The Bearcats shot at a 47.9 percent clip overall and led 44-17 at the break by holding the Trojans to just eight field goals in the first 20 minutes. The second half was a bit more even with a number of reserves playing major minutes for Cincinnati. The Bearcats outscored the Trojans both in the paint (42-20) and on points off turnovers (31-8). Sean Kilpatrick yet again paced the Bearcats with 18 points and six rebounds.
As a team Cincinnati has been stellar on both ends all season. The Bearcats are scoring 83.,2 points per game and shooting 46.6 percent from the field. On defense the team allows only 59.1 points per game on the fifth lowest opponent field goal percentage (34.7) in Division I. Kilpatrick (19.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg) has really transformed into one of the best guards not only in the Big East but the country overall. At 6-foot-4, he has the ability to get anywhere on the floor to get his shot while also pounding the glass. He has scored in double figures in every game this season and is shooting 48.1 percent overall, including a 42.0 percent clip from beyond the arc. Cincinnati's strength in the backcourt doesn't end with Kilpatrick, as both Cashmere Wright (!4.4 ppg) and JaQuon Parker (10.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg) are also more than capable of lighting it up. There is less depth and production out of the backcourt where Justin Jackson (41 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and Cheikh Mbodj (5.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg) are the top options. Even with a lack of frontcourt power Cincinnati is still the third best rebounding team in the country (45.8 pg).