A Look At The Cincinnati Bearcats
Last season: UConn's two losses to Cincinnati were among the most frustrating and disappointing of the season. In the Big East opener at Cincinnati, Kemba Walker made a tying three-pointer with nine seconds remaining. On the ensuing possession, Cincinnati went to freshman Lance Stephenson, who drove the lane and drew a controversial foul on Gavin Edwards with less than a second remaining.
Six weeks later, with Jim Calhoun returning to the sideline after a seven-game medical leave of absence, the Huskies put up an offensive no-show in a 60-48 loss at the XL Center. Afterward, Calhoun said he was embarrassed.
"One of the worst performances I've had here at UConn," Calhoun said.
Cincinnati finished 19-16, 7-11 in the Big East, and lost to Dayton in the second round of the NIT.
Who's gone, who's back: Stephenson, the team's leading scorer and second-leading rebounder last season, left after one season and was drafted by the Indiana Pacers. Also gone is Deonta Vaughn, who exhausted his eligibility after a career that included a few standout performances against UConn.
Yancy Gates, a hulking 6-9 forward, returns for his junior year, having averaged 10.4 points and a team-high 5.9 rebounds as a sophomore. Rashad Bishop (8.4 points a game last season) will patrol the wing as a junior, and sophomore Cashmere Wright is the top returning guard.
The UConn-Cincinnati rivalry: Last year's losses to Cincinnati were the first two in history for the Huskies, who hold a 5-2 all-time advantage. The two most recent victories, both in 2007-08, are particularly noteworthy. In January, the Huskies erased a late 12-point deficit at Cincinnati and won 84-83. That was part of a 10-game winning streak, and just before Jerome Dyson, who kick-started the late run in that game, and Doug Wiggins were lost to suspension. Two months later, the regular season finale, a game between the teams was pushed back with Cincinnati unable to travel because of snow. The Huskies set a Big East record with a 45-point victory, 96-51 at Gampel Pavilion.