Tonight at the Fifth Third Arena, the wildly inconsistent Cincinnati Bearcats look to snap a two-game losing streak as they play host to the Villanova Wildcats. Both teams come in with identical 6-5 Big East records, but ‘Nova has won two straight.
The visitors come in looking to make it three wins in a row and improve their place in the standings. Villanova is one of the best teams in the country at field-goal percentage defense, not exactly what the struggling Bearcats need. The Wildcats hold opponents to 39.2% shooting.
Their offense can get up and down if need be, as was evident in their 94-71 drubbing of DePaul a week ago. They’re offense is led by JayVaughn Pinkston, who leads them in scoring with 12.5 points per game, but the guy to keep an eye on is sophomore guard Darrun Hilliard. Hilliard is averaging 18 ppg over the past five games. ‘Nova’s guards certainly make them go on offense but their big man underneath, 6-foot-10 senior Mouphtaou Yarou is a threat as well, dropping in nine points per game.
For Cinci, they need to get out to a good start shooting, as their offensive woes have been brought to the forefront during this current two-game losing streak. They’ve scored 50 and 52 points in the two losses.
They’ll need to be sound defensively against Villanova’s slashing guards, who like getting to the line. Villanova leads the Big East in attempted free throw attempts. Cinci can ill-afford another loss in conference if they expect to be taken seriously in March.
For Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin, he’s not only hoping to get his 201st career win, but is hoping he can right the sinking Bearcats’ ship.