Presbyterian-Cincinnati Preview

BY foxsports • November 18, 2011

After a rather lackadaisical effort in the second half of their last contest, Cincinnati players know they have something to prove to coach Mick Cronin.

The No. 20 Bearcats look to give their coach a more complete performance when they face visiting Presbyterian on Saturday.

Cincinnati (2-0) held its second straight opponent to fewer than 60 points Tuesday, but there was not too much joy inside the Bearcats' locker room after a 73-59 home win over Jacksonville State.

The Bearcats led by as many 27 points early in the second half but took their foot off the pedal. Out of the Ohio Valley Conference, the Gamecocks went on a 15-1 run to get within 10 points with less than two minutes to play.

"Once they saw we were going to win, that's enough for them,'' Cronin said of his squad, which returned its top four scorers from last season's 26-9 NCAA tournament team. "And I don't want that to be the case.''

Upset with the direction the game was headed, Cronin played star guard Dion Dixon all 40 minutes and fellow starters Yancy Gates and Cashmere Wright more than 30 apiece to teach them a lesson.

"I was unhappy with some guys' intensity,'' Cronin said. "The last thing I was going to do was call time out and take them out of the game. I was going to let them play through it.

"I've been trying to save some of my intensity. It's a long year. There comes a point where you have to let guys grow up a little bit. They've got to take ownership in what they're doing.''

Wright finished with 23 points while shooting 9 of 14, and Dixon scored 16 of his 20 in the first half. However, the backcourt tandem knows it must improve after combining for 10 of the Bearcats' 20 turnovers.

"I think we did horrible, personally,'' said Wright, who has seven assists and nine turnovers in two games. "We've got to figure out what's wrong and correct it before the next game."

Though Cincinnati has far more talent then Presbyterian (2-2), Cronin's players understand if they don't find a way to play a full 40 minutes it might caused problems during the always tough Big East schedule.

"We can't keep playing like that and continue to win," Wright said.

On Saturday, the Bearcats will try to extend a 22-game regular-season home winning streak over non-conference opponents that dates to a 76-66 loss to Xavier on Dec. 13, 2008.

While Cincinnati has never faced Presbyterian, it is 8-1 against teams from the Big South Conference. The Blue Hose are facing a Big East opponent for the first time.

Presbyterian, which fell 96-55 at sixth-ranked Duke last Saturday, is coming off an 80-73 defeat to Western Carolina on Thursday. Averaging a team-leading 17.0 points, senior forward Al'Lonzo Coleman had 18 and seven rebounds.

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