Cincinnati-St. John’s Preview

Cincinnati’s hot start has become a distant memory given how

poorly it has shot since beginning a difficult stretch in the Big

East play.

The No. 25 Bearcats will try to avoid losing their fourth

straight on the road Saturday when they visit St. John’s to

complete a three-game road swing.

Cincinnati (16-3, 3-3) started the season 15-0 for its best

opening stretch since 1998-99. However, the Bearcats have lost

three of four, including their last two. On Wednesday, they

suffered a 66-58 defeat at No. 16 Notre Dame.

Cincinnati, which fell to 0-3 against ranked teams, trailed the

Irish by 14 points at the half after shooting 29 percent. The

Bearcats finished the game shooting 38.3 percent, putting their

average at 36.8 percent over the last four games.

“We have guys that are better players at times than what they

are showing,” coach Mike Cronin said. “They just have to raise

their intensity level to win at this level. It’s not easy.”

Yancy Gates has been one of the players struggling. Although he

scored 13 points Wednesday, he shot 6 of 16 after shooting 1 of 6

for three points in the 67-52 loss to then-No. 4 Syracuse last

Saturday. He’s averaging 9.0 points in the last four games.

Cronin is looking for Gates and others to be more aggressive in

getting to the free-throw line. The Bearcats are averaging 22.9

attempts, but they have gone 10 for 19 combined in the last two


Leading scorer Dion Dixon, a 73.2 percent foul shooter who gets

to the line a team-high 3.7 times per game, has taken one in the

last two contests.

Cincinnati has dropped three straight on the road, all to ranked

teams. While St. John’s (11-6, 4-3) isn’t in the Top 25, it has

played well at home against opponents that are in the AP poll.

The Red Storm are playing their sixth consecutive ranked

opponent. They are looking to avoid a second straight defeat this

week after losing 88-63 at No. 19 Louisville on Wednesday.

St. John’s was coming off a 72-54 win over Notre Dame on

Saturday in which it limited the Irish to 16 field goals. However,

the Red Storm allowed the Cardinals to shoot 53.2 percent and

committed a season-high 25 turnovers.

D.J. Kennedy and Dwight Hardy, who combine to average 25.9

points, were held to 13.

“We were a step slow and a passive,” coach Steve Lavin said.

“With the Big East having (so many) teams in the Top 25, it is that

much more important to bring your ‘A’ game and your A-level effort

on a consistent basis. Otherwise you get taken to the


St. John’s will try to rebound at home, where it is 6-2 with two

victories over teams in the Top 25. The Red Storm also beat

then-No. 13 Georgetown 61-58 on Jan. 3.

Hardy scored 19 points last season as St. John’s beat Cincinnati

52-50 to end a three-game losing streak to the Bearcats.