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January 16, 2008
Thanks to sophomore guardDeonta Vaughn, the Bearcats (8-8, 3-1) already have more Big East wins than they did last season and they're just four games into the conference schedule.
Vaughn led Cincinnati to home upsets of Syracuse and Villanova last week, averaging 27 points and 3.5 assists. Those performances made him the Rivals.com National Player of the Week. With Georgetown's loss to Pittsburgh on Monday night, the Bearcats moved into a tie for first place in the Big East, albeit a short-lived tie because Cincinnati lost 91-74 Tuesday night at Notre Dame.
"You have to earn respect in this conference," Vaughn said after torching Syracuse for 29 points on 9-for-16 shooting, including four 3-pointers, in a 74-66 victory. "We don't have a lot of respect because of how we played last year. It is a whole new year, and we are all back. We have to come out and play hard every night. We have to take advantage of the opportunities we have here."
The Bearcats' next opportunity came against the Wildcats. There were seven lead changes in the second half before Rashad Bishop's 3-pointer with 22 seconds to go lifted the Bearcats to a 69-66 victory. Vaughn dropped in 25 points on 8-for-15 shooting, including three 3-pointers, to help offset Villanova guard Scottie Reynolds' 32 points.
"It is a shame that someone had to lose," Cronin said. "Villanova came in with great energy and a great game plan. Scottie Reynolds did a tremendous job. Fortunately, we had Deonta Vaughn on our team."
Vaughn is carrying a chip on his shoulder from last season. He's interested in giving lumps, not taking them. "We're looking to give a payback to every team that beat us last year," he said. "No ifs, ands or buts."
Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.