Tonight in the City 6: Villanova looks for third straight

Tonight in the City 6: Villanova looks for third straight
February 12, 2013, 12:15 pm
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Just one game on the schedule Tuesday night, as Villanova travels to Cincinnati to take on a Bearcats team that has dropped two straight in Big East play.

Villanova (15-9, 6-5 Big East) at Cincinnati (18-6, 6-5)
8 p.m., Fifth Third Arena

Previous games
Villanova has been one of the streakiest teams in college basketball this season, and they did nothing to shed that label in their last game. The Wildcats had won two in a row over top-five opponents in late-January but followed that up with a two-game losing skid. Their 68-40 beat down of South Florida marked their second win in a row and the start of another new streak.

South Florida’s 40-point output was the lowest point total Villanova had allowed in a Big East game since joining the conference in 1980. The Wildcats held the Bulls to 10-for-45 (22.2 percent) shooting from the field and 1 for 16 from three. Darrun Hilliard led Villanova with 17 points in a game where 10 different players scored.

After starting the season 12-0, Cincinnati has dramatically cooled off. The Bearcats are just 6-6 in their last 12, including their 62-52 loss to No. 23 Pittsburgh on Feb. 9. After going into the half up five, Cincinnati was outscored by 15 in the second half. Sean Kilpatrick led Cincinnati with 16 points, but backcourt mate Cashmere Wright struggled, contributing just five points on 2-for-12 shooting, including 1 for 11 from beyond the arc. The Bearcats as a team were just 16-for-52 (30.8 percent) from the floor and 4-for-25 (16 percent) from three.

Top players
Although JayVaughn Pinkston and Hilliard lead the Wildcats in scoring (12.5 ppg and 11.7 ppg, respectively), it is becoming clear that ‘Nova is driven by freshman point guard Ryan Arcidiacono.  He averages 11.3 points and 3.4 assists, but his true value does not show up on the stat sheet. Arcidiacono’s defense and ability to be a floor general provides stability for the notoriously streaky Wildcats.

Junior guard Sean Kilpatrick has been Cincinnati’s best player for much of the season. He leads the team with 18.2 points per game, and ranks second with 5.3 rebounds per game. Kilpatrick has scored in double-figures in 23 of 24 games, has eight 20-plus point outings and has dropped over 30 twice as well.

Keep an eye on…
Both teams sit 2 1/2 games behind first place Syracuse in the Big East standings. Of the Orange’s eight remaining games, four come against ranked opponents. A win would keep hope alive for Villanova to ascend to the top of the conference.

Cincinnati ranks seventh in the nation in rebounding at 41.5 per game and has five players who average at least 4.8 rebounds. Villanova must keep the Bearcats off the glass if it wants to have a chance to pull out the road win.

Recent series
Last season, Cincinnati took both meetings against Villanova by a combined eight points. Pinkston had just 11 points combined in the two games.