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Cincinnati vs UConn Basketball Preview

Cincinnati hosts UConn for the final time at Fifth Third Arena on New Year’s Day

NCAA Basketball: Cincinnati at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

To kick off the new year, Cincinnati Bearcats host the UConn Huskies on January 1 at 7pm at Fifth Third Arena on CBS Sports Net. It will be the final meeting in Cincinnati between two schools that have developed a fun rivalry with many memorable moments.

UConn 2019-20 season-to-date

Huskies enter conference play with a record of 9-3.

A look at their three losses:

  • Home to Saint Joseph’s in their second game - bad loss, considering Saint Joe’s is currently #213 in NET ranking and is 3-9 on the season
  • vs Xavier 75-74 in double OT in the Charleston Classic. One notable stat from this game, UConn hit 93% of their free throws (25-27)
  • At MSG against Indiana 57-54 in the Jimmy V Classic. UConn shot better than Indiana (41.2% vs 36.8% FG, 28.6% vs 15.4% 3P FG)

They have a notable win against Florida (8-4) at home and Miami (8-3) and Buffalo (8-4) both in Charleston. Florida and Miami are both ranked in the top 100 of the latest NET rankings.

UConn Players to Watch

UConn is averaging 74.8 ppg as a team. They have nearly five players averaging double figures in scoring - Christian Vital (13.5), Josh Carlton (11.2), Tyler Polley (10.4), Alterique Gilbert (10.1), and James Bouknight (9.9).

Vital, a senior guard, also leads the team in rebounding at 7.6 rpg. It will take a team effort by John Brannen’s squad to contain him on Wednesday. He has a career scoring average of 12.9. In two games against Cincinnati last year, he scored 14 and 16 points, respectively. Gilbert scored 18 and 13 points.

Carlton (6’11) and Akok Akok (6’9) both pose a threat down low that Chris Vogt and Jaime Sorolla must contain. Carlton is averaging 7.2 rpg (in addition to the 11 points) and Akok is averaging 6.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg, and 2.9 blocks per game (13th in the country in bpg).

Cincy/UConn Series History

Cincinnati is 15-13 all-time against UConn. Their first meeting came in the 1995 NCAA Tournament (#5 UConn knocked off #8 Cincinnati). Beyond that, they have played every year since 2005-06 since the Bearcats’ move into the Big East.

Cincinnati has won the last 7 games against UConn, 8 in a row in regulation, and 9 of the last 10 overall, dating back to 2016.

UConn’s last win win over Cincinnati was the historic 4 overtime classic in the 2016 AAC Tournament, which UConn won 104-97.

About the Bearcats

Cincinnati opens conference play with a 7-5 record. This is not what anyone expected, but in their defense, 3 of the losses came away from home to three pretty good teams (Ohio State, Iowa, Xavier). The other two losses...well not good. Losing to Colgate and Bowling Green is unacceptable by

Beating UConn to open conference play would help in erasing those two bad losses. Cincinnati has a lot of work to do to build an NCAA Tournament resume and open up AAC play with UConn, Tulane, Tulsa, and UCF before playing Memphis.

This team has shown their potential, even in the losses, that they are capable of doing great things this year. And now the potential is there to start 4-0 in conference play and build some confidence and momentum moving forward, with an eye towards a 10th straight NCAA Tournament appearance. But it starts with Jarron Cumberland playing like an All-American and beating UConn.