Monday, January 19, 2009


January 19, 2009

While the the match-up between Cincinnati and Providence might not have Big East title implications like the other Monday night match-up in the league (see Pitt-SU), this is a game that could define the race of one team emerging from the bottom-half of the league to poke it's head into the upper half.

After a 3-0 conference start, which included an 87-79 win at Cincinnati, the Friars have dropped two straight, at Georgetown and a home loss Saturday night against Marquette. The Bearcats, on the other hand, have won two straight after starting 0-3 in the conference, getting a win over Rutgers and a road win against DePaul in the last week.

Here are the pregame stories and previews found on the web:

Bearcats Eager for Another Shot (Cincinnati Enquirer)
Gates Solid off Bench (Enquirer)
PC vs Cincinnati Scouting Report (Providence Journal)
PC Looking to Move On (Providence Journal)
PC Still Reeling from Incident Involving Jeff Xavier's Brother (Providence Journal).

The key to Cincinnati's recent two-game winning streak has been achieved on the defensive end. After allowing an average of 84 points a game, including 87 to PC on the Bearcats' home court, in their three conference losses, UC has yielded just 57 a game in their two wins. However, nobody will confuse the offenses at DePaul or Rutgers with UConn, Notre Dame, SU or even PC. So, their defensive improvement will be tested tonight.

The Friars looked for a first statement win on Saturday when they hosted Marquette and looked to be on their way by leading much of the game. However, a late run by the Golden Eagles flipped the game around and PC found themselves on the short-end of a 91-82 decision in a contest between the two first-year Big East coaches in the league.

However, PC might be without one of their biggest weapons tonight as Jeff Xavier was injured by an inadvertant elbow to the eye by Marquette's Joseph Fulce. There was no foul called on the play and it set off a wild scene as a fans came out onto the court in an attempt to confront a referee before being removed by security. The fan was later identified as Jonathan Xavier, the older brother of PC's senior guard. Jeff Xavier did not return to the game after the elbow and is unlikely to play tonight and the incident from Saturday could still be on his mind as well. Jonathan Xavier was arrested and will have to appear back in court in the near future.

So, PC must now move on and face the Bearcats. UC was surprised by the Friars on their home floor as PC hit 12 of 24 three's and shot 54% overall. Xavier was three of five from the arc and scored 12. Deonta Vaughn and Mike Williams each scored 20 in the game for UC and Williams' emergence as a consistent scoring option to supplement Vaughn is a large reason to look for Cincinnati to continue to improve in the season. There defense is still a concern as it has not come together like it did last season yet, so PC should be able to get enough offense to get past Mick Crinin's club tonight. The Friars are listed as 6 1/2-point favorites.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Providence 76
Cincinnati 68



Post a Comment

<< Home