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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Men's Basketball

In rematch, Cougars have chance to beat ranked Bearcats


In three of the past five games, redshirt senior guard Damyean Dotson has led the Cougars in points. | Ajani Stewart/The Cougar

The Cougars (20-8 overall, 11-5 in conference) will travel to face off against the No. 18 Cincinnati Bearcats (25-4, 14-2) on Thursday. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

With redshirt senior guard Damyean Dotson in peak performance and junior forward Devin Davis back in the lineup, the Cougars may pull off the upset. When Cincinnati came to Hofheinz earlier this season, the Bearcats walked away victorious 67-58.

The Cougar squad, which averages 70.8 points per game, couldn’t find any momentum from beyond the arc. They shot an abysmal 15.8 percent (3-for-19) with redshirt junior Rob Gray shooting and missing all seven of his attempts.

On the flip side, Cincinnati sank in ten 3-pointers, good for 41.7 percent (10-for-24). To top it off, all five of their starters put up 10 or more points; forward Kyle Washington led with 19.

But almost two months have passed since this meeting, and there’s one huge difference: Damyean Dotson.

Dotson has caught fire in the past month, most recently putting up 31 points against Memphis. He went 5-16 from distance and 11-24 from the field. At the same time, he led the team with nine rebounds.

In the game against Cincinnati, Dotson accounted for only 10 points but led the team in rebounds with 10.

In head coach Kelvin Sampson’s most recent radio show, he talked about how most teams have one good defender, and they’ll put that defender on either Dotson or Gray. In the last game, Memphis put its best defender on Gray which allowed Dotson to put up 31 points.

With both Dotson and Gray proving to be offensive powerhouses, the Cougar offense isn’t as one dimensional as it used to be. If these two players show up on Thursday, the Cougars may have a chance at upsetting Cincinnati at home.

The rematch game will come down to whether Cincinnati can contain the Cougars within the 3-point line, where they have struggled all season.

This contest will feature the No. 2 and No. 3 scoring offenses in the American, but the biggest discrepancy is in the defenses. At No. 2 in scoring defense, Cincinnati allows an average of 58.5 points per game while the Cougars at No. 5 allow 65.2 points.

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