Golden Eagles meet Bearcats in Big East action

The eighth-ranked Marquette Golden Eagles travel to Fifth Third Arena tonight to take on the Cincinnati Bearcats as the Big East Conference season progresses toward its end.

Although Cincy holds a 25-19 lead over Marquette in the all-time series, that margin was narrowed on Feb. 11th earlier this month when the Golden Eagles downed the Bearcats, 95-78, in Milwaukee. The 95 points scored by Marquette was the most in Big East action this season for the squad.

Coach Buzz Williams has led his Golden Eagles up the rankings with a high- powered offense. Marquette picked up a 61-60 victory over West Virginia in Morgantown on Friday to make it five wins in a row. As if playing the Mountaineers on the road was not hard enough, Marquette still managed to win despite having three starters suspended for the first half and its sixth man suspended for the final 20 minutes. The Golden Eagles will clinch a second place finish in the Big East tonight with a victory, as their 13-3 league mark is bettered only by Syracuse's unbeaten record. Marquette's impressive 24-5 overall record comes courtesy of its scoring offense, which leads the Big East with an average of 76.4 ppg.

The Golden Eagles have a pair of Big East Player of the Year candidates in Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder. Johnson-Odom is leading the team with 18.4 ppg on 45.3 percent shooting while Crowder carries averages of 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.4 steals per game. Vander Blue, Todd Mayo, Jamil Wilson, and Junior Cadougan all have played vital roles in Marquette's success. Cadougan leads the team with 5.5 assists per game.

Mick Cronin saw his squad suffer a 46-45 setback to South Florida on Sunday in an low-scoring bout which dropped the Bearcats' overall record to 20-9 and gave them a 10-6 mark in league play. Cincinnati's was held to 26.9 percent shooting in the first half and its scoring output of 45 points in the contest versus USF set a new season-low. Despite going 3-of-15 from three-point range in the loss to USF, the Bearcats still lead the Big East with 7.5 makes from beyond the arc per game. Cincinnati is one of the better teams in the Big East at stopping its opponents, as it has held foes to a fourth best average of 60.8 ppg.

Sean Kilpatrick paces the Bearcats' with 14.8 points per contest on 42.9 percent shooting. Dion Dixon is second on the squad with 13.2 ppg while Yancy Gates averages 11.9 points and 9.3 boards per game. Cashmere Wright is a solid point guard as he dishes out 4.5 assists and swipes 1.8 steals per game. Dixon and Gates will both be playing their final home games as members of the UC program. Gates is one pace to become the first Bearcat in school history to lead the team in rebounding in four consecutive seasons. None of Cincinnati's players had a performance they could be proud of their last time out versus USF.