Cincinnati-Oregon Preview

Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin knew his squad would be playing
much stiffer competition in Las Vegas after cruising through its
first four games.

Its next opponent will be looking to pull off another
surprise.

The 22nd-ranked Bearcats will play for the Global Sports Classic
championship Saturday night against upstart Oregon, which knocked
off the tournament’s host in the semifinals.

Cincinnati (5-0) won its first four games by an average of 34.5
points while scoring 91.5 points per contest, though those
opponents weren’t expected to present much of challenge.

That changed Friday, though, as unbeaten Iowa State was even
with the Bearcats at halftime and stayed close throughout the final
20 minutes in a 78-70 loss.

“I knew it was going to be a tight game in the first half,”
Cronin said. “Two teams playing a major opponent for the first time
this season, things were bound to get sloppy.”

Sean Kilpatrick scored 32 points while Cashmere Wright added 14.
Kilpatrick, who leads the team at 22.0 per game, hit all 16 of his
free throws after missing 6 of 8 over his previous two games.

“I just got out there and didn’t think about it,” Kilpatrick
said. “That’s when things go wrong, when you think about it too
much. So I just shot them like I know how I can.”

Cronin said the Bearcats need to be more fluid on offense,
though.

“We weren’t organized,” Cronin said. “We just got sloppy on
offense. We have to learn how to play better with a lead. Teams can
hurt us because we spread the floor and they get physical with our
bigs. We’re actually used to that in the Big East; we just hadn’t
seen it yet.

“Once we got organized we were able to box out and we were able
to score multiple times.”

Cincinnati’s victory set up the first part of a potential Top 25
showdown with No. 18 UNLV on Saturday, but Oregon had other ideas.
Behind a team-high 19 from Damyean Dotson, the Ducks (5-0) pulled
off an 83-79 upset despite hitting only 3 of 19 (15.8 percent) from
3-point range.

E.J. Singler and Tony Woods, who entered as the team’s top two
scorers, finished with seven points apiece while shooting a
combined 4 of 15.

“(Dotson) did a great job,” coach Dana Altman said. “He found
his way to the basket and made really good plays down the
stretch.”

Oregon, which had lost 17 of its previous 19 games against
ranked foes, hasn’t won its first five games since beginning the
2006-07 season with 13 straight wins.

Altman was critical of his team after a 67-45 victory over
Jacksonville State on Monday, hinting that the Ducks might not yet
be able to compete with top-20 competition.

He was happy to be proven wrong Friday, and surely knows
Cincinnati will provide another tough test.

“I didn’t like some of our execution, but the guys played hard
and found a way to win,” Altman said. “It was a great game for us
to win. We found a way.”

Cincinnati upset No. 5 Oregon 77-52 in the most recent meeting
Dec. 17, 2002, at the Jimmy V Classic in East Rutherford, N.J.