Gamecocks and Bearcats mix it up in Cincy

Nov 15, 2011 - 3:46 PM Cincinnati, OH (Sports Network) - The 20th-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats play their second game in a 48-hour span, when they welcome the Jacksonville State Gamecocks to the Queen City for non-conference action at Fifth Third Arena.

James Green brings a young JSU squad into its most challenging contest to date. The Gamecocks have split their first two games, opening up at home with an 87-64 victory over Miles College, followed by a 58-44 road loss at Marshall. With just one senior on the roster, the inexperienced Gamecocks will need youngsters to step up to remain competitive both in and out of the Ohio Valley Conference, but improving on last year's miserable 5-25 season is certainly expected.

Mike Cronin is in his sixth season with the Bearcats and there is certainly optimism surrounding this year's squad, as Cincinnati was picked to finish among the conference elite in 2011-12. The team flashed brilliance at times in a dominating season-opener, routing Alabama State, 65-40.

This is just the second time these two teams are meeting on the hardwood. Cincinnati won the only prior affair, a lopsided 95-43 decision at home in 2004.

The Gamecocks have been up and down offensively over the first two games, erupting for 87 points in the season-opening win and then stifled to the tune of just 44 points in the recent road loss at Marshall. The truth about this team's offensive potency probably lies somewhere between the two extremes. JSU received a balanced attack with four players notching double figures against Miles College, converting 55.1 percent from the floor overall. That changed considerably against the Thundering Herd, which held the Gamecocks to a mere 30.9 percent shooting effort. In the loss, only juco transfer Tarvin Gaines posted double figures, finishing with 12 points. Mason Leggett and Brian Williams were just shy of that mark, chipping in with nine and eight points, respectively. Gaines has impressed early on at JSU, posting 15 points in his debut against Miles College. The team will also need 6-6 senior Stephen Hall to lead the way. He is the team's top returning scorer from a year ago (11.1 ppg).

Yancy Gates recorded his 14th career double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, leading the Bearcats to a 25-point romp over Alabama State in the opener. A balanced attack featured three others in double figures, with Dion Dixon (14 pts), Sean Kilpatrick (13 pts) and Cashmere Wright (10 pts) all making their presence felt. Kilpatrick just missed out on his first double- double, grabbing nine boards in the win. The Cincinnati defense was unforgiving, forcing 17 turnovers, while blocking 10 shots and amassing eight steals. The Bearcats held a 21-point halftime lead and limited the Hornets to a mere 14 first half points, the fewest in the first half under Cronin.

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