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January 16, 2008

Vaughn helps Bearcats battle in Big East

Cincinnati took its lumps in its first season under Mick Cronin last year, going 11-19 overall and 2-14 in the Big East.

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."

OTHER NOMINEES FOR PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
C Roy Hibbert, Georgetown
Hibbert had his best week of the season as the Hoyas beat DePaul and Connecticut. He had 17 points, 11 rebounds and five assists against the Blue Demons. Hibbert scored 20 points, including a game-winning 3-pointer, against the Huskies.
F D.J. White, Indiana
White had double-doubles in two victories. He had 21 points and 22 rebounds at Michigan, and followed that up with 15 and 10 against Illinois.
F Sam Young, Pittsburgh
Young shot 62.1 percent (18 of 29) and averaged 25 points as the Panthers beat USF and Seton Hall.

Kevin Love,
F, UCLA
Last week started with Love tying his lowest-scoring output of the season (11 points) against Washington. But it was a little misleading. He took only six shots, and he added seven rebounds and four assists as the Bruins prevailed 69-55.

Love delivered big time in UCLA's next game on the big stage. He had a career-high 27 points on 9-for-12 shooting and added 14 rebounds, four assists and just one turnover as the Bruins knocked Washington State from the ranks of the unbeaten, 81-74.

It was Love's eighth double-double, and he's averaging a double-double for the season (16.8 points, 10.2 rebounds).

OTHER NOMINEES:
G Jerryd Bayless, Arizona
Bayless returned to the lineup in style after missing four games with a sprained knee, scoring 33 points in a win at Houston. Bayless went 18-for-20 from the free-throw line against the Cougars.
F Michael Beasley, Kansas State
The Wildcats rode Beasley to a key win over Oklahoma. He had 32 points and 11 rebounds and hit the game-winning basket with 2.3 seconds left.

C DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh
Blair had 12 points and nine rebounds in a win at USF and posted his seventh double-double (20 points and 14 rebounds) in a win over Seton Hall.

Herb Courtney,
F, Delaware
Courtney, a senior forward, averaged 23 points and eight rebounds as the Blue Hens improved to 5-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association with two overtime victories.

He posted his first double-double of the season with 27 points and 11 rebounds in an 81-74 double-overtime win against Old Dominion. He then had 19 points, five rebounds and three blocks in a 73-68 overtime triumph against George Mason.

Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at bmcclellan@rivals.com.



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