Bearcats hope to clip wings of 18th-ranked Golden Eagles

The 18th-ranked Marquette Golden Eagles will season title, as they entertain the Cincinnati Bearcats today at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee.

Cincinnati comes in sporting a solid 17-7 record, and its 7-4 conference mark has it in the upper half of the Big East standings. The Bearcats are riding a modest two-game win streak, with their most recent triumph coming in a 76-54 rout of St. John's on the road this past Wednesday. It was the sixth road win of the campaign for UC, and a nice way to bounce back following losses in their previous two trips (West Virginia, Rutgers) away from the Queen City.

As for the Golden Eagles, they are one of only two teams in the Big East to have won at least 20 games to this point in the campaign, Syracuse being the other, and their 9-3 conference mark has them just two games behind the first- place Orange. Marquette is an impressive 12-1 at home this season, the only setback coming against SEC foe Vanderbilt back on December 29.

Cincinnati owns a 25-18 lead in the all-time series with Marquette, but things are all square in Milwaukee (9-9). The Bearcats won the last meeting, 67-60, at the Bradley Center last March, and the road team has won four of the last five meetings.

Yancy Gates and Sean Kilpatrick scored 14 points apiece, Cashmere Wright logged his first double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Dion Dixon chipped in 10 points, as Cincinnati dominated St. John's from start to finish in what turned out to be a 22-point win for the visiting Bearcats. The team knocked down 51.7 percent of its field goal attempts, which included a 7-of-16 showing from three-point range, and it easily won the battle on the boards, 49-29. The Red Storm were limited to 32.8 percent field goal efficiency, actually shooting better from beyond the arc (.417). About the only thing UC coach Mick Cronin could complain about was the fact that his team committed 16 turnovers. Kilpatrick (15.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg) is one of four starters averaging double figures in the scoring column for the Bearcats, who net 69.7 ppg on the strength of their .362 three-point FG percentage. Defensively, the club allows just 60.1 ppg, with foes shooting a mere 41.1 percent from the floor and 31.4 percent from downtown. Gates is close to averaging a double-double, as he accounts for 12.7 points and 9.2 caroms per contest.

Darius Johnson-Odom scored 23 points, while Jae Crowder and Jamil Wilson both produced double-doubles in helping push Marquette past DePaul earlier this week. In all, five players scored in double digits for the Golden Eagles, who battled from behind by shooting 52.5 percent from the field, despite missing seven of their 10 three-point attempts. Wilson finished with 18 points and 10 boards, the team coming up with 35 rebounds in the game. DePaul's reserves outscored Marquette's, 25-8, but the Golden Eagles outscore the Blue Demons at the free-throw line (22-10), in the paint (50-36) and out on the break (16-6). Johnson-Odom (18.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg) and Crowder (16.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg) are the only two players averaging double figures in scoring for MU, although three others are close to joining the ranks as they net a minimum of 8.5 ppg. As a collective unit, Marquette is lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of 75.9 ppg, while the opposition does so for 65.1 ppg. Foes are shooting just 40.5 percent from the field, and they've committed nearly 100 more turnovers than have the Golden Eagles to this point in the season.