The 24th-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats will try to keep pace in the race for the Big East Conference regular-season title, and their next test comes in Saturday's road clash against the Seton Hall Pirates.
Cincinnati brings a 17-4 overall record, and a 5-3 conference mark into this contest, and the team has won four of its last five games since suffering back-to-back defeats at home to St. John's and Notre Dame in early January. The Bearcats' most recent triumph came in their last outing, as they topped visiting Rutgers on Wednesday night, 62-54. UC is 4-1 in true road games this season, and 7-1 away from the Queen City all told when you factor in its 3-0 mark in neutral-site affairs.
Despite an impressive run through its non-conference slate, Seton Hall hasn't enjoyed the same kind of success as its counterpart today, logging a 13-8 overall record, which includes a 2-6 league ledger. The Pirates have lost two straight, and posted only two wins in the month of the January. A 74-52 setback at Georgetown on Wednesday was the team's most recent, but SHU is undoubtedly happy to be back in Newark where it has gone 9-2 this season.
Cincinnati owns a 7-6 lead in the all-time series with Seton Hall, and the Bearcats have won each of the last two meetings.
Sean Kilpatrick scored 19 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists, all of which were needed to help Cincinnati top visiting Rutgers earlier this week. The Bearcats' leading scorer on the season, Kilpatrick (18.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg) had a tough shooting night (5-of-13), but nailed three 3- pointers and converted 6-of-8 free throws. Center Cheikh Mbodj tallied 10 points as the only other UC player to reach double figures, and the Bearcats picked up the victory despite shooting just 37.5 percent from the floor, missing 16 of their 21 long-range bombs in the process. A 21-10 edge in points from the foul line helped offset the negativity 17 turnovers can often lead to, as did a 35-27 rebounding advantage. In addition to Kilpatrick, Cashmere Wright (14.1 ppg, 3.5 apg) and JaQuon Parker (10.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg) have been consistent contributors to everything the Bearcats like to do, the team accounting for 72.6 ppg in hitting 42.4 percent from the floor, which includes 33.6 percent from beyond the arc, while at the same time yielding a meager 58.8 ppg on just 37.3 percent field goal efficiency.
Seton Hall boasts three double-digit scorers of its own, as Fuquan Edwin (16.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, 2.5 spg), Eugene Teague (12.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg) and Aaron Crosby (11.9 ppg, 3.0 apg) have done their best to help the team record more victories than defeats. Still, the Pirates have been rather careless with the basketball, averaging 16.1 turnovers per outing, and they're permitting nearly 65 ppg. Poor shooting was clearly the reason SHU didn't win at Georgetown the last time out, as the team connected on only 32.6 percent of its field goal attempts, which included a dismal 27.3 percent effort in the second half. Only 5-of-20 3-point tries found the bottom of the net, and it certainly didn't help that the Pirates coughed the ball up a whopping 25 times. Brian Oliver scored 13 points to pace the club, while Crosby chipped in with 12 points and five rebounds. He was however, guilty of a team-high six giveaways. Significant deficits in points in the paint (16-30), off turnovers (10-28) and from the reserves (12-24) played an integral role in the outcome as well.