7:30 PT :: Thomas and Mack Center :: Las Vegas, Nevada
TV :: CBS Sports Network
After a surprise upset of host UNLV, Oregon's first road win over a ranked opponent under Dana Altman and their most significant OOC victory in five years, the Ducks will now play in the championship of the Global Sports Challenge. The Bearcats are 5-0 on the season, their notable win being a 78-70 victory over Iowa State on Friday in the semifinals of this tournament. Cincinnati was a Sweet 16 team last season, beating Texas and Florida State before succumbing to Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament last season.
Cincinnati plays with a three guard lineup, though the two primary forwards are plenty tall in 6'10" Cheikh Mbodj and 6'8" Justin Jackson. Those guys are primarily defensive players, averaging less that five points each per game on a team that scores 88. But that stat is inflated due to the schedule that the Bearcats have played thus far. Cincinnati has always been a physical, defensive team as longtime Oregon fans will remember from the last time we played them in the 2002-03 season, a game where a top ten Oregon team was destroyed because they couldn't match the Bearcats physically.
I don't have those concerns this time around, and UNLV's frontcourt is the epitome of physicality and aggression, and Oregon not only matched the Rebels, they are one of the few teams to actually outrebound them. The Bearcats have allowed only 32% shooting to their five opponents this season. Iowa State shot only 37% against Cincinnati, though outrebounded them by two.
The scoring load is handled by the guards, with Sean Kilpatrick getting 22 a game, and shooting almost 43% from three. He also gets over six rebounds a game and will be an important matchup in all phases for the Ducks. Point guard Cashmere Wright adds 16 a game, and shoots the three ball at 45, while Ja'Quon Parker chips in almost ten points per game.
Oregon responded to all the challenged faced against UNLV. They matched the Rebels' physicality and aggression, and showed amazing poise on the road for such a young team. Ben Carter, Damyean Dotson, and Dominic Artis were the stars of the game for Oregon, and were the ones to make the plays down the stretch, even as freshmen. They won't face the hostile home crowd while playing Cincinnati, but they will face a team that will try to bully them around at all five positions. The Ducks have shown against opponents thus far that they won't be pushed around and, if they can respond to this challenge with another upset win, the Ducks should find themselves ranked on Monday for the first time in a long, long time.