This is a great start for Cincinnati, winning the first Big East game of the season. This is the third win against a ranked team helping the Bearcats in postseason thoughts. Cronin was asked how big of a win is this, Mick said “One of your goals is to win your conference home games; you have to win the first one to win all nine… We’ve had to rebuild our program and were to a point now where we look like UCONN… We look like the other team, they didn’t block one of our shots tonight (first time in nine years UCONN didn’t block a shot).
Freshman Lance Stephenson made two free throws with .7 seconds left after being fouled with no time on the clock and the officials reviewing the play for a couple of minutes and decided that there should be .7 seconds remaining enough time for UCONN to throw a desperation heave that missed. Mick Cronin may have said it best when he said “Typically Big East Game… Our guys were awesome, we were able to persevere, not pretty but conference games aren’t pretty.”
Senior guard Deonta Vaughn and Stephenson were the difference in the game as the two combined 38 points. Stephenson finished the night with 21 points, four rebounds, three assists, and went seven of seven from the free throw line including the two game winners. Stephenson on sitting there for two minutes knowing he had shots to attempt to win the game “Just get me to the free throw line cause I know I’m going to make them.” Vaughn, who scored 17 points, grabbed five rebounds, dished out five assists and also went three of five from three point range. With the 17 points Deonta Vaughn scored, he moved into eighth on the all-time Cincinnati scoring list. About the win Deonta Vaughn said “To beat them for the first time means a lot, everybody was more focused, and we did what we had to do to get a win.”
For Connecticut, they were led by Jerome Dyson and Stanley Robinson who combined for 46 points on the night, Stephenson was asked about guarding those two players and he just said “there tough players….there very aggressive, I was just trying to make it tough on them when they got the ball.”
Vaughn who fouled out with less than two minutes to go in the game was replaced by sophomore guard Dion Dixon. This was a big surprise that Coach Cronin moved Dion Dixon to the point, rather than freshman point guard Cashmere Wright who only played six minutes on the night, with three points, one assist and three turnovers. About the decision Mick said “I was worried about Cash in that situation because he didn’t have a lot of minutes in the second half, I don’t know if he had any. Dion Dixon I have a lot of confidence in.” Dixon played 15 minutes, dishing out four assists, two steals and committed zero turnovers proving Cronin’s trust is well thought out.
The Bearcats will head to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights next and about those people who are concerned about the letdown that happened at UAB after the Xavier game, Mick Cronin said this “Our players didn’t have same respect for UAB… they saw Rutgers played North Carolina and they know it was close. They know there in Big East, and they know Rutgers came in here last year and had a 14 point lead on us… I’ll remind them of all of that.”
Deonta Vaughn’s opinion about avoiding the letdown is “We have to play Rutgers, just like there UCONN….We have to take every team like there a top 25 team.”
Cincinnati now 9-3 will take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and need to bring the same level of intensity that was brought to the game tonight. I will be posting of the forum, so let’s keep the excitement going on the basketball forum.