Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento
SACRAMENTO – (Preview by The Sports Xchange) – The top-scoring team in the country will take on one of the toughest to score against when third-seeded UCLA meets sixth-seeded Cincinnati in an East Region second round game Sunday evening at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. The Bruins average a nation-leading 90.6 points a game following their 97-80 first round win Friday against Kent State, and the Bearcats are fifth in the NCAA in scoring defense (60.8) following their 75-61 win against Kansas State in the opening round.
Cincinnati also flashed its offensive capabilities in its win against Kansas State, shooting 62 percent from the field and owning a 34-22 advantage in the paint. That skill and determination on both ends of the floor could make them a legitimate threat against UCLA, which has shown flaws in its defense during the season, especially when guarding man-to-man. The Bruins will depend on freshman point guard Lonzo Ball to break through the Cincinnati defense, but his movement will be something to watch after he took a hard fall against Kent State after getting undercut while leaping for a pass in the post. UCLA has four players who average more than Cincinnati leading scorer Jacob Evans (13.5), but all the Bearcats’ starters are capable of huge games, most recently senior guard Troy Caupain, who scored a season-high 23 points with seven rebounds in the win against Kansas State.
TV: 9:40 p.m. ET, TBS
ABOUT CINCINNATI (30-5): The Bearcats are the only No. 6 seed to survive to the second round, and they’ll need a strong defensive effort and big offensive games from at least three of their starters if they hope to make it to the Sweet Sixteen. Evans, a 6-6 sophomore guard, should be ready to break out after being held to nine points against Kansas State and 10 in a loss to SMU in the American Athletic Conference tournament championship last weekend. Kyle Washington, the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.1, and Gary Clark at 10.1, should have a big impact in this matchup as they’ll hold down the front court against a longer UCLA team.
ABOUT UCLA (30-4): None of the current UCLA players likely remember when the Bruins knocked off the top-seeded Bearcats in double-overtime to reach the Sweet Sixteen in 2002, but the Bruins probably learned a lot about it during their off day. Like that day when Dan Gadzuric dominated the middle, Jason Kapono was sharp from outside and freshman point guard Cedric Bozeman ran the offense smoothly and efficiently, UCLA will need 6-10 freshman T.J. Leaf to be the best post player on both teams, Bryce Alford to shoot a high percentage from outside and Ball to distribute the ball well. A player the Bearcats may have trouble matching against is 7-foot forward Thomas Welch, who should find room to implement his dangerous mid-range game.
1. The Bruins will be trying for their third Sweet Sixteen appearance in the last four years.
2. UCLA averages a nation-leading 21.5 assists, the highest average of any Division I team since Kentucky averaged 21.8 during the 1995-96 season.
3. Cincinnati has held 28 of its 35 opponents under 70 points this season, while UCLA has not been held under 74 points.