Posted on: January 18, 2012 10:37 pm
Edited on: January 18, 2012 10:45 pm

Cincy, quite clearly, second-best in Big East

Cincinnati's win Wednesday night at UConn improved the Bearcats to 5-1 in the Big East. (US PRESSWIRE)
By Matt Norlander

STORRS, Conn. — Cincinnati flew into Hartford, took the 30-minute bus ride to Storrs and stole the title of Big East’s Second-Best Team from Connecticut Wednesday.

The Bearcats hung on at Gampel Pavilion, 70-67, after Sean Kilpatrick sunk a kill shot on Connecticut with 2.7 to go. I was sitting 10 feet from where it happened. It was awesome, and it positively froze the frenzied Gampel Pavilion crowd just seconds after Shabazz Napier tied the game, completing a 10-point comeback in less than two minutes for the Huskies.

The win offered more answers about who Cincinnati is, its dynamics, how tough it can be and why it’s as stable a group as you could ask for in wake of what will most certainly go down as college basketball’s ugliest moment of the season.

Yeah, that fight, it needs to be mentioned again. You think I want to get into this? Not really, but it’s legitimate subtext to Cincy’s season. Going to be that way the remainder of the way, through March or April. Fair or not, it’s a prologue to every big game they play. That will diminish as the season goes on, but it merits mention in mid-January because, Wednesday night, Cincinnati earned its Marquee Win (it was the first home loss for Connecticut this season) and biggest moment following that fracas against Xavier more than a month ago.

The players don’t much care about their perception; it’s refreshing to see how light-hearted they are about it. Afterward, the press peppered them with questions about really hitting a stride more than a month away from the fight. The players took all the questions, answered them in full and without a stock, trite tone in their voices. Throughout the game, UConn fans taunted the Bearcats, particularly Yancy Gates, who threw the sport’s more infamous sucker punch. Gates didn’t ignore it.

“We laugh when we come in and student sections are still yelling about it,” he said. “Actually, it’s kind of amusing. It happened, we’ve moved on, and become a better team. It could’ve easily gone another way.”

The way it’s going (15-4 and 5-1 in the Big East) is turning into one of college basketball’s most surprising storylines. UConn will still be considered a better team than Cincinnati right now by some, but the record shows the Bearcats are No. 2 in the standings with wins against Georgetown, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and UConn. Think the Huskies can claim better? Florida State, West Virginia Harvard … Notre Dame. And 4-3 in the Big East.

It’s these kind of wins, the wins no one really expects them to get — hello, UConn was considered (still is?) a national title contender — that tussle convention and expectation on its side. The Bearcats needed 11 3s to do alter the national perception of them tonight, but Mick Cronin will take it any way he can get it. Especially tonight's oh-thank-you-God way. The Bearcats don't win normally get these kind of games to end on their side.

The confidence is there, consistently, for this team now, as high as it’s been all season, players said following the finish. Cronin looked as loose as I could ever remember him after he traded in his suit and tie for Cincinnati wind pants and a gray hoodie. He shared a moment, one of his favorites from this season, so far. It didn’t come Wednesday night.

“I saw a change in our team recently,” he said. “There was a comment made in our locker room — because Pitt is still Pitt; I don’t care what anybody says, and the way they’re playing, they’re back to playing well — and I heard one of our players say, ‘We just beat Pitt at Pitt. We must be really good.’” The mental state in this league, when you’re trying to build a program and break down the hierarchy, as coach you don’t know how real all that stuff is. I hear the media talk about it, but anyway, when I heard one of our players say, ‘We’re better than Pitt,’ you can tell it meant a lot to them.”

For Kilpatrick and other Bearcats, the Pitt W was the big one this season; they admitted as much. (Pretty big of Kilpatrick to say that after winning Wednesday's game the way he did.) Cronin said tonight was bigger. Of course it was. When the schedule was released over the summer, Cronin scoped it immediately, but carefully. His eyes looked for the big games, particularly the UConn one, which he knew would be on the road. He was hoping it would be at the XL Center, in Hartford, where the Huskies play many of their home games. Nope. “STORRS, CONN.” it read. And so he knew how big this would be, even before knowing how good his team would become or the PR mess that awaited him a few months down the way in the Cintas Center.

“Coming into adversity like this, at UConn, you need to know how to close it out. We did,” Kilpatrick said.

Most recently, Cincy was the one in need of a chase late to get a win. Not tonight. The Bearcats staved off a rally, led by Napier, who was throwing the ball at the hoop from 23 feet again and again, from the same spot on the far left side of the floor.

There was no buckle for Cincy. It earned a 10-point lead with less than two minutes to go and got a brand of road win that 10 other teams won’t lay claim to this year. This team is better than you want to believe. Time to set your notions of what this team is to the side for now. The Big East, in a down year, has Cincinnati as its second-best team. It may not last for more than a week or two, or maybe this team gets to Manhattan with a 14-4 league record and a complete tonal change on its season.

The group is capable of a lot right now. It remains to go the good way.

Posted on: January 10, 2012 1:07 am

Night Court: No BCS title game in these parts

Jeff Borzello

Here’s everything you need to know about Monday’s slate of college basketball games …

Game of the day: Certainly not the BCS title game. Cincinnati bounced back from Saturday’s last-second loss to St. John’s with an impressive four-point win at Georgetown. The game was tied with 1:07 remaining, when Cashmere Wright hit two free throws. Cincinnati went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final 67 seconds, holding off the Hoyas, which lost their second straight game. Sean Kilpatrick had 27 points for Cincinnati.

Win to brag about: Monday’s game against West Virginia was a game Connecticut should have won. And the Huskies did, 64-57. But the way they did it had to give them confidence going forward. Andre Drummond had his best game of the season, putting up 20 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, while Jeremy Lamb scored 25. Connecticut also held the Mountaineers to 32.3 percent shooting.

Loss to hide from: There weren’t any terrible losses on Monday, but Oklahoma is reeling and needed a solid performance against Oklahoma State. The Sooners didn’t get it, trailing by as many as 17 points en route to a 72-65 loss. Le’Bryan Nash had 21 points for Oklahoma State, which has now won four of its last five against Oklahoma. Oklahoma is now 0-3 in the Big 12 after going 10-2 in non-conference play.

Player who deserves improper benefits: Matthew Dellavedova hit six 3-pointers en route to a career-high 27 points, helping Saint Mary’s beat San Francisco, 87-72. Dellavedova also dished out four assists and grabbed six rebounds. His teammate Stephen Holt came one rebound short of a triple-double, getting 11 points and 10 assists.

Player(s) who does not deserve improper benefits: West Virginia’s Darryl Bryant had been rolling lately, scoring at least 25 points in three of his last four games. On Monday against Connecticut, however, the senior guard shot 2-for-13 from the field and finished with just eight points. Bryant was 1-for-7 from 3-point range. 

Numbers don’t lie:

  • 59.1. That’s the percentage Georgetown shot from the field, but turning the ball over 17 times did the Hoyas in against Cincinnati.
  • 24. Wyoming has now defeated Idaho State twice this season, with both victories coming by 24 points.
  • 17-3. That’s the run Connecticut went on after head coach Jim Calhoun picked up a technical foul in the second half.

Three other notable results:

  1. Norfolk State improved to 4-0 in the MEAC, the Spartans’ best start since 2004-05, with a 68-48 win over Howard.
  2. Mississippi Valley State beat Alabama A&M on the road, moving to 3-0 in the SWAC.
  3. Air Force overcame a slow start to beat Texas-Pan American, 67-50. 


  • In its first game without suspended head coach Todd Bozeman, Morgan State lost to Savannah State, 57-55.
  • Former Oklahoma transfer Ray Willis had 21 points, seven rebounds, four assists and five steals for North Carolina Central, as it beat Bethune-Cookman.
  • A couple of recent transfers made their announcements. Khem Birch (Pittsburgh) decided on UNLV as his next destination, while Jamal Branch (Texas A&M) opted for St. John’s.

Photo: AP

Posted on: January 7, 2012 9:33 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2012 11:21 am

Night Court: Mizzou, Florida, Louisville all fall

By Jeff Goodman

(NOTE: We will file a Night Court almost every night this season. Follow @GaryParrishCBS, @GoodmanCBS, @MattNorlander, @JeffBorzello and @EyeOnCBB on Twitter to make sure it gets sent to you as soon as it's posted.)

Here’s everything you need to know about Saturday’s slate of college basketball games …

Game of the day: No surprise that it was the tilt between Louisville and Notre Dame. These two teams had gone to overtime each of the last three times they met - and this one went to double-overtime before Notre Dame came out on top. The Cards had won 20 straight at the Yum! Center before losing two straight - one to Georgetown and now against the Irish. Notre Dame's Eric Atkins made the game-winning on a pull-up with 14.5 seconds left in double-OT. 

Most exciting game: Stanford's 103-101 quadruple-overtime win over Oregon State in Corvallis. Stanford's Josh Owens' bucket at the end of regulation came just after time had expired -- and the game-winner wasn't until the fourth overtime when Chasson Randle hit a shot with 37 seconds remaining. There were 171 field goal attempts in the game. 

Win to brag about: Kansas State didn't just beat undefeated Missouri. Frank Martin's club, coming off a poor loss to in-state rival Kansas in Lawrence, dominated the Tigers. Rodney McGruder led the way, but this was a team effort - especially on the defensive side. The final score. 75-59. 

Loss to hide from: Cincinnati had reeled off seven consecutive wins since The Brawl - including one at Pittsburgh. The Bearcats had renewed promise of climbing back into the NCAA tournament picture, but those hopes took a significant step back with a loss at home to St. John's. The Red Storm blew a late lead, but came away with the win after a game-winning tip from freshman Moe Harkless. 

Another one to hide from: Florida State was believed to be the No. 3 team in the ACC behind North Carolina and Duke. The Seminoles are now 9-6 overall and got thumped on the road against a mediocre Clemson team. Leonard Hamilton's team has dropped three of its last four games - including a triple-overtime setback at home against Princeton. 

And yet another: UConn got Jim Calhoun back, but the Huskies lost their second straight on the road - this time at Rutgers. It followed a setback at Seton Hall with associate head coach George Blaney running the show. Rutgers has now taken down Florida and UConn on its home court in the last week or so.  

Player who deserves improper benefits: Iowa State's Royce White is one of the best passing big men to come around in a while. The Cyclones finished with a triple-double -- 10 points, 18 boards and 10 assists -- in a 74-50 rout over Texas A&M in College Station. 

Player who does not deserve improper benefits: As good as Louisville's Russ Smith has been lately, the Cardinals guard was just 1-for-9 from the field and 1-for-6 from beyond the arc and finished with just three points in the double-overtime loss to Notre Dame. 

Numbers don’t lie:

0: That's how many points Xavier point guard Tu Holloway managed. It was the first time Holloway went scoreless since his freshman season. 

11: That's how many double-doubles West Virginia's Kevin Jones has this season after going for 22 points and 16 boards in a win over Georgetown. 

17-0: Syracuse began the season with 17 straight wins last season - and Jim Boeheim's club has done it again after holding off a late Marquette charge. 

3-0: Colorado's record in Pac-12 play, which means the Buffs are in first place in the league. No one expected that. Not even Tad Boyle. 

Five Other notable results:

Florida lost in Knoxville to Tennessee and the Gators will likely fall out of the Top 25. First it was Rutgers and now Tennessee. 

Virginia Tech lost at Wake Forest, 58-55. That's not good news for Seth Greenberg and the Hokies - who will likely be on The Bubble again this March. 

Xavier got a win at Fordham, 67-59. The Musketeers needed this one badly after losing five of six since The Fight. 

Duke struggled to get a win at Georgia Tech. The final score was 81-74, but it was closer than that. 

Temple knocked off Duke earlier in the week. Dayton defeated the Owls in Philly, 87-77. 


Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, following the loss at Temple, opted to start freshman Quinn Cook at point guard and also re-insert Miles Plumlee into the starting lineup. 

Marquette coach Buzz Williams told CBSSports.com that big man Chris Otule will have season-ending knee surgery Tuesday. 

Kentucky wing Stacey Poole is transferring to Georgia Tech, according to numerous reports. 

Towson set an NCAA Division 1 record with its 35th consecutive setback in a 75-38 loss to Old Dominion. 

On tap: 

Sunday isn't loaded, but there are a few quality matchups. Here's what leads the way: 

Wisconsin at Michigan, 1:30 p.m. ET - The Badgers are struggling and Michigan is coming off a tough loss at Indiana. 

Purdue at Minnesota, 6 p.m. - After the slip-up at Penn State, Robbie Hummel & Co., can ill-afford to slip-up against a Minnesota team that is 0-3 thus far in Big Ten play.

Maryland at N.C. State, 6 p.m. - One of these teams could finish in the Top 5 of the ACC, so this game could be important down the line. 

VCU at Drexel, 8 p.m. - Shaka Smart's team is 2-1 in CAA play while Drexel is 1-2. However, this is an intriguing league matchup. 

Posted on: January 1, 2012 10:22 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2012 10:27 pm

Night Court: Gates-less Bearcats win -- again

By Jeff Goodman

(NOTE: We will file a Night Court almost every night this season. Follow @GaryParrishCBS, @GoodmanCBS, @MattNorlander, @JeffBorzello and @EyeOnCBB on Twitter to make sure it gets sent to you as soon as it's posted.)

Here’s everything you need to know about Sunday’s slate of college basketball games …

Game of the day: Cincinnati became the third team to go into the Peterson Events Center and come away with a victory this season. Pittsburgh entered Sunday with a 156-14 mark in the building and the Panthers had won 62 of their past 66 home games at the Pete. The Bearcats won 66-63 and run their record since The Brawl to a perfect 6-0. 

Win to brag about: Akron has been difficult to figure this season. The Zips handed Mississippi State a win in Starkville early in the season and got another big road victory Sunday, a fairly easy 67-51 win at Marshall -- a team expected to challenge Memphis for the C-USA title. Five guys finished in double-figures in a game that was delayed for an hour due to a bent rim on one of the baskets. 

Loss to hide from: Pittsburgh is now 0-2 in the Big East and has lost three straight games overall after the setback to Cincinnati. Jamie Dixon has seen Khem Birch leave the program after 10 games and was without Travon Woodall again on Sunday as he sat out for precautionary reasons. 

Player who deserves improper benefits: Michigan freshman Trey Burke is making those in Ann Arbor say, "Darius Who?" Burke went for a career-high 27 points in a win over Minnesota and has made Michigan fans forget about last year's point guard Darius Morris -- who left early for the NBA. 

Player who does not deserve improper benefits: Villanova's Dominic Cheek was a big-time recruit. Frankly, he just hasn't lived up to expectations. Cheek was just 2-of-10 from the field, 1-of-7 from long distance and had nearly as many fouls (5) as points (6) in 'Nova's loss at Marquette. 

Numbers don’t lie:

26: That's how many consecutive field goal attempts that Bowling Green's Torian Oglesby has converted. He was 10-for-10 in a loss to UTSA on Sunday. 

6: That's the number of times already this season that North Carolina sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall has managed double-figure assists. He had 11 in the rout over Monmouth. 

42: That's the percentage that North Carolina's trio of Harrison Barnes, Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston are shooting from beyond the arc. They are a combined 72-of-173 this season. 

Three Other notable results:

Syracuse ran its record to 15-0 after an easy road win at DePaul. The Orange started 18-0 a year ago and the program's best start was 19-0 in 1999-2000. 

Marquette knocked off Villanova, 81-77, in Milwaukee. Darius Johnson-Odom went for 24 points and 'Nova fell to 7-7 overall and 0-2 in league play. 

Michigan jumped out to a 2-0 start in Big Ten play with a 61-56 victory over Minnesota in Ann Arbor. 


Rutgers talented freshman big man Kadeem Jack made his debut against Florida, playing three minutes in the win, and logged five minutes in the loss to South Florida. 

Joe Jackson's former summer league coach told CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish that the Memphis point guard won't transfer and will remain with the Tigers. 

Tennessee's Cuonzo Martin told CBSSports.com that Jarnell Stokes -- who has enrolled early -- won't play against his hometown Memphis Tigers even if he's cleared by the NCAA in time for Wednesday's game. 

On tap: 

It's a fairly light Monday, one that's headlined by a Big 12 matchup between Texas A&M and Baylor. Towson has its best shot of ending its futility streak prior to setting the Division 1 record when it hosts Northeastern at 7 p.m. ET. Marquette lost in Baton Rouge to LSU earlier this season. Now Trent Johnson gets a chance at what appears to be the third-best team in the ACC: Virginia. 

Posted on: December 29, 2011 4:19 pm

It's a big night for some disappointing teams

By Gary Parrish

There are exactly 10 schools that were ranked in the preseason AP poll that are no longer ranked.

The schools are:
  • No. 7 Vanderbilt
  • No. 11 Memphis
  • No. 14 Xavier
  • No. 16 Arizona
  • No. 17 UCLA
  • No. 19 Alabama
  • No. 20 Texas A&M
  • No. 21 Cincinnati
  • No. 23 Gonzaga
  • No. 24California

Those schools have gone from ranked to unranked for a variety of reasons -- injuries, suspensions, dismissals, fights, overscheduling, etc., -- but the fact remains that on Nov. 7 those 10 teams were ranked and on Dec. 29th they are not. And I just realized that six of those 10 play tonight.

So let's call Thursday Night of the Underachievers.

Here's the list of games:

  • Vanderbilt at Marquette
  • Robert Morris at Memphis
  • Arkansas Tech at Texas A&M
  • USC at California
  • Jacksonville at Alabama
  • Oklahoma at Cincinnati

Can Vandy avoid its fifth loss by getting a marquee win?

Can Memphis stay undefeated against unranked opponents?

Can Cincinnati keep winning with four guards and without Yancy Gates?

Will any of these schools prove good enough to enter the Top 25 again this season?

The answers to those questions (in my opinion) are probably not, probably so, probably so and almost certainly yes. But either way, this is a big night for six schools that've gone from ranked to unranked in a span of seven weeks. So wish them luck. Because, to date, they haven't had much.

Posted on: December 28, 2011 2:10 pm

Cincinnati's four-guard lineup has saved season

Jeff Borzello

Since the brawl between Xavier and Cincinnati put a black eye on each team’s season, the two teams have gone different directions. Xavier is 1-3, with the lone victory coming against 3-8 Southern Illinois. On the other hand, Cincinnati has won four in a row, racking up its four highest point totals of the season.

The biggest change for the Bearcats? Head coach Mick Cronin has gone to a four-guard lineup with Yancy Gates suspended for six games.

It started against Wright State, when Cronin inserted junior JaQuon Parker into the lineup. Sean Kilpatrick, Dion Dixon and Cashmere Wright were already entrenched on the perimeter. Justin Jackson has been the lone frontcourt player in the starting five.

“It’s easy to get a shot in a four-guard offense,” Cronin told reporters at the time. “If you can get away with it on defense and get away with it rebounding, it’s a lot easier. You can just let these guys play.”

Cincinnati won that first game, 78-58, and has been rolling since. They topped 100 points in back-to-back games against Radford and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, then went for 95 against Chicago State last week. They are averaging 1.35 points per possession in those four contests, which would rank No. 1 in the country – by about 0.14 PPP – if the Bearcats had done it all season.

Cincinnati is shooting better, taking care of the ball, forcing more turnovers and even rebounding the ball better on the defensive end of floor.

Kilpatrick is averaging 17.3 points during this stretch, while Wright has also relished the new up-tempo style, averaging 17.8 points and 6.5 assists, with only four turnovers total. Parker has provided yet another dimension on the perimeter, using his strength to be a factor on the boards.

The Bearcats are taking better advantage of their athleticism along the perimeter, getting better spacing in the half-court offense and utilizing better ball movement to get open shots. Moreover, Cincinnati is averaging better than 70 possessions per game in the last three contests – the only three games Cincinnati has reached that level this season.

“It’s allowing us to play faster and that’s creating more scoring opportunities,” Cronin told Jon Rothstein recently.

Can Cincinnati continue to use this lineup in Big East play? That remains to be seen, as the Bearcats’ numbers have been inflated by terrible competition recently. Justin Jackson is suited for transition basketball, due to his ability to run the floor and bring energy on a consistent basis. His motor is terrific, but he’s not a legitimate option in a half-court offense. Once Gates returns, it is likely he will take Jackson’s spot in the lineup. Gates’ strength will be necessary against Big East foes, but he would also prefer a half-court system to the up-and-down style.

The Bearcats face Oklahoma on Thursday night, and then go against Pittsburgh to start Big East play on New Year’s Day. Gates returns against Notre Dame next Wednesday. It will be interesting to see what Cronin does going forward.

Either way, the brawl was clearly a turning point in Cincinnati’s season – in a good way.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: December 15, 2011 1:35 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:44 pm

Xavier AD wants to continue Cincinnati series

By Jeff Goodman

Xavier athletic director Mike Bobinski (at left with Xavier coach Chris Mack) doesn't want to run from the rivalry with Cincinnati despite the fight that occurred last weekend. 

"We need to grow up," Bobinski told CBSSports.com on Thursday. "We have a chance to do things right and I don't think the right move is to walk away from this." 

By this, Bobinski means the series with the Bearcats - which moves to Cincinnati's campus next season. Bobinski's wasn't thrilled with my suggestion to move the game to an off-campus venue - and for a valid reason. He felt like the even split of fans could cause altercations in the stands. 

What Bobinski said is that the two sides need to come together prior to the game next year and show the community that good will between the programs exists. 

"People need to see that we don't have animosity," he said. "Show everyone that we've put this behind us." 

He said there should be heightened security for the game, but that both sides would already be on "high alert" and both coaches would likely enter the meeting with a different approach. 

"Neither of us can afford for anything like this to happen again," Bobinski said. "This was horrible at every level - for both programs and for the game." 

"The worst part was the scene," he added. "I was down the other end and was sick to my stomach watching it." 

Now the short-term future of the game likely shifts to Cincinnati's court - and whether Mick Cronin and his administration wish to continue the rivalry - or take some time off. 

Photo: AP
Posted on: December 15, 2011 11:22 am
Edited on: December 15, 2011 11:25 am

Xavier's Frease extends olive branch to Gates

By Jeff Goodman

Give Kenny Frease credit. 

Xavier's big man, who took the hardest hit in the Musketeers brawl with Cincinnati last Saturday, extended the olive branch to Yancy Gates - the guy who sent him to the floor with a vicious right-hand. 

It came via a text message. 

“I just wanted to let him know that…I mean, I saw a lot of the stuff coming out about how the police and stuff were looking into it and I just wanted him to know that anything that was coming from that wasn’t from my end. I never wanted to press charges against him,” Frease told Shannon Russell of the Cincinnati Enquirer Wednesday. 

“People make mistakes in the heat of battle," he continued. "I’ve made mistakes in my life in emotional situations. I don’t think that’s a reason…especially in a basketball game. Obviously there’s no room for that in a basketball game. But to pursue somebody criminally for something that happens in something that’s that competititve – it seemed immature to me. And I didn’t want him to be punished for something for his whole life because of something that he did in a game that is that emotional.”

Frease got clocked by Gates, then was stomped on by Chiekh Mbodj while he was down on the ground. Both Gates and Mbodj received six-game suspensions for their actions. Frease received seven stitches near his left eye. 

There was speculation that prosecutors might seek criminal charges from the fight, but Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said on Wednesday that would not be the case - and praised Frease for his stance. Xavier athletic director Mike Bobinski told CBSSports.com he was impressed by Frease's actions. 

"I think it was extremely mature on his part," Bobinski said. "I admire it quite honestly. It was a good move on his part." 

Frease told the newspaper that Gates thanked him for reaching out and also apologized. 

“I think that you can really feel that both sides of the situation know that that’s not what either of our universities are about or NCAA sports are about," Frease told the Enquirer. "This sort of puts a bad name on athletes." 

“I think people being able to move past it quickly is something that we need to be able to do, just to protect the names of our schools. They’re both great universities. I think that once we can move past it, everybody can sort of remember the things that made our universities great and not just what happened this weekend.”

Photo: Getty Images
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com