‘Cats Grab First Big East Win

Deonta Vaughn had a game-high 24 points and a team-high eight rebounds as he led the Cincinnati Bearcats (11-6, 1-3 in the Big East) to their first conference win of the season Wednesday night against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (9-9, 0-5 in the Big East) in Cincinnati's Shoemaker Center, 71-59, to snap the team's four-game losing streak.

While Vaughn led the ‘Cats shooting 9-15 while also dishing out five assists, Mike Williams had career-high tying 20 points in the win. The pair were the only Bearcats to score in double figures on the night.

After trailing by as many as 16 points in the first half, head coach Mick Cronin said the right things to his team in the locker room and made the right adjustments at halftime to make his team come out swinging in the second half. Over the first eight minutes of the second half UC went on a 21-4 run to take a 50-40 lead after trailing by seven at the break.

It was an entirely different story through the opening half of play. The Scarlet Knights, trailing 13-10 with 12:48 to go in the half, went on a 19-0 run to take a 29-13 lead. A pair of Steve Toyloy free throws would be the Bearcats first points in almost eight and a half minutes, and it would take another full minute for Cincinnati to hit a field goal. During the stretch, UC shot 0-16 from the field before turning it around and ending the half on a 16-7 run and something to build off of.

The Cincinnati defense, which had taken some heat during the team's four-game slide, showed up in an attempt to silence their critics. For the first time since playing Memphis on Dec. 29, the Bearcats held a team to under 50 percent shooting. Rutgers shot just under 41 percent, led by Anthony Farmer and his 12 points. Mike Rosario, the leading scorer for the scarlet Knights this season averaging over 17 points per game, was held to just 11 points on the night.

While the defense looks to have found its way back to true form, now it will be the offense the Bearcats focus on, after shooting just under 39 percent Wednesday night. Cincinnati begins a three-game road swing starting Saturday with a trip to Rosemont, Illinois to face the DePaul Blue Demons and 2 p.m.

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