Looking Ahead … To Cincinnati, UConn’s Next Opponent

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, UConn men's basketball

The Duke-Syracuse game was incredible, living up to all the hype, and so it’s only natural for folks in the UConn sphere to wonder, ‘what if?’ … Give yourself a minute or two to think about it, then remember – that game was exceptional; games like that don’t happen all the time in any league. Then remember the games of that magnitude in which the Huskies have been involved over the last 20 years or so, and probably will be again – even if we don’t know exactly when.

And now, it’s time to get over all that. The present is but a snapshot. On this Super Bowl Sunday, UConn is in the American Athletic Conference, a league that could send five of its 10 teams to the NCAA Tournament, but a league of unfamiliar opponents, not a league with the kind of matchups that are getting anyone around here excited. It’s sad, sure, but why let it spoil your season? That’s where UConn is right now, and the Huskies must first make the most of the situation they are in, no choice there, before looking for better days.

… That leads us to this week, and a game that should generate some buzz – the Huskies (17-4, 5-3 in the league) are at Cincinnati, which is 21-2 and 10-0, on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Fifth Third Arena.

 Let’s look ahead to the Bearcats, who could be headed to the Top 10 in this week’s rankings, while UConn has a chance to re-enter the Top 25.

  • Cincinnati had a scare at home on Sunday, but got past South Florida 50-45. Sean Kilpatrick scored 18, including the last eight of the game.
  • Kilpatrick, 24, is a fifth-year senior who could end up with 2,000 career points. He scored 28 in the Bearcats’ signature win, at Louisville on Thursday night. He also came up huge down the stretch in that game, and could be the AAC player of the week as a result.
  • Cincy is experienced and, typically for Mick Cronin’s bunch, is tough and physical – as in old Big East tough and physical.
  • Among the ‘Cats notable non-conference wins: Pitt (44-43), Nebraska (74-59). The losses were to New Mexico and Xavier, back to back in early December.
  • Several of the AAC wins have been close – 61-60 over Houston, five and seven points over USF, four over Temple. They have beaten Memphis as well as Louisville on the road.
  • Kilpatrick is averaging 19.4 points, Justin Jackson 11.3 points. Jackson has 75 blocks.
  • Cincy is outrebounding opponents 36.8-32.0
  • Cincy is shooting 42.9 percent from the floor, holding opponents to 38.6.
  • Kilpatrick has taken 173 three-point shots, more than twice as many as anyone else on the  team. He has made 59, or 34.1 percent.
  • You may remember Kilpatrick’s game-winning three-pointer at Gampel Pavilion on Jan. 18, 2012.
  • UConn split with Cincinnati last season and is 8-4 against the Bearcats. Last win in Cincinnati was on Feb. 27, 2011.
  • The Big O, Oscar Robertson, the Bearcats legend, frequently attends games at Fifth Third Arena.     
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