PC and Cincinnati appear to be heading in opposite directions, but a closer look at this matchup shows why the Bearcats could be a tough out in the Big East Tournament on Wednesday.
The last time Providence and Cincinnati met the Bearcats were riding high, having won five of six games with the lone loss coming at then-#3 Syracuse (57-55).
Behind 25 points from Kadeem Batts, the Friars scored a 54-50 victory over a Cincy team that was ranked #17 at the time. It was a loss that sent Cincinnati on a bit of a tailspin.
They’ve closed their season just 3-5 over their final eight games, but a closer look at who’ve they’ve lost to is warranted.
In their first game after the loss to PC, Cincinnati fell to Pittsburgh and then beat up a Villanova team (68-50) that finished the Big East season at 10-8. They lost four of their next five games, but the competition was difficult.
First came a 62-55 loss to Georgetown, then an overtime defeat at Connecticut which was followed by a road loss to Notre Dame. The fourth loss came to Louisville and was sandwiched by wins over UConn and South Florida.
Of the five losses in their final eight games, three came to very good teams on the road (Louisville, UConn, Notre Dame) and the other two were to a potential #1 seed in Georgetown and 24-7 Pittsburgh.
Their only conference loss to a team with a losing record in the Big East came when they fell by a point to St. John’s on January 5. The Johnnies finished 8-10 in the Big East.
Few would have guessed that when Providence and Cincinnati met in early February that they would have finished with matching 9-9 conference records. Yet, while this feels like a pairing of two teams trending in different directions, it is also a case of PC facing the iron of their schedule early, while Cincinnati played some of the Big East’s elite late.
What’s concerning for the Friars heading into this one is the job Cincinnati was able to do on the rest of the team around Batts the last time around. While Batts was magnificent, Bryce Cotton made just 2-10 shots, LaDontae Henton finished 1-6 and Vincent Council went 3-7.
In fact, the only players to make more than two field goals were Batts (10), Council (3) and Lee Goldsbrough who provided PC with a huge lift on both ends (he made 3-3 from the field).
Conversely, the Bearcats made just 3-13 from deep against Providence and only 37.5% from the field for the game, so the Friar defense was equally effective.
Who wins this one could very well come down to which team’s backcourt outplays the other. Bryce Cotton is the lone 1st team All Big East performer in this game, while Sean Kilpatrick made the 2nd team for Cincinnati.
Here’s a look back at UC vs PC from early February.