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Cincinnati-Marshall Preview

AP - Sports

While it would be easy to get caught up in its remarkable start, undefeated Cincinnati appears to be plenty focused on its next opponent.

The No. 11 Bearcats try to avenge last season's loss to Marshall, which won't have junior standout DeAndre Kane available for the first time this season for Saturday's matchup at the Charleston Civic Center.

Cincinnati finds itself on the verge of its second 10-0 start in three seasons after blowing out Maryland-Eastern Shore 92-60 last Saturday. Sean Kilpatrick had 23 points while Cashmere Wright scored 20 to go along with a season-high nine assists for the Bearcats, who rank fourth in the country with 84.2 points per contest.

"We are just trying to get ready for the big games like the Marshall games," Wright said. "We're just trying to get everything in order, get the offense flowing. Make sure everybody knows where they're supposed to be at and just play hard."

Though Cincinnati outrebounded the Hawks 55-31 and held them to 29.9 percent shooting, coach Mick Cronin wasn't entirely pleased with the effort.

"We gave up 14 offensive rebounds and (there were) too many loose balls that we don't grab. In my opinion, we are too soft," he said.

"When I talk, I'm talking about things we need to do to beat Marshall (on) Saturday, a great physical team. A great early test for us with their size and their toughness."

The Bearcats are 19-12 all-time against the Thundering Herd (6-4) but were outrebounded 43-30 in a 73-69 overtime loss Nov. 25, 2011 - their first meeting since 2000. Kane was one of four players to score in double figures for Marshall in that game, posting 12 points on 4-of-16 shooting.

Another upset could be hard to come by with Kane on the sidelines. The 6-foot-4 guard, who's averaging a team-leading 15.0 points and ranks second in the country with 8.5 assists per game, is out indefinitely with an injured right hand.

"It's just like if Michael Jordan isn't on the floor one game, like Derrick Rose not being on the court now for the Chicago Bulls," forward Elijah Pittman told the school's official website.

"It's just another good person down, someone steps up, has to step up. They have to play better and look at it like, 'This is my chance to show I can play.'"

Pittman and fellow junior college transfer D.D. Scarver are averaging a combined 29.0 points but will likely be asked to carry an even bigger load going forward. Scarver led the way with 20 points last Saturday in a 69-63 win over Coppin State.

While Marshall will likely have its hands full with Kilpatrick, slowing down Wright could also prove difficult. The senior guard went 6 for 7 from 3-point range last weekend and is shooting a Big East-best 46.3 percent from beyond the arc among players with at least 40 attempts.

"Right now, the coaches are giving me the green light to shoot," Wright said. "If you feel you're open, you take the shot. At the same time, I'm trying to walk the thin line between shooting the ball and not shooting so much. So it's like an ongoing progression for me to get into the best of that."

The Thundering Herd are allowing 70.5 points per game to rank second-worst in Conference USA.

"We're going to score whenever. We'll be fine there," Pittman said. "The problem is our defense, in transition, and lack of communication there. That's the only thing that stops this team, really."

Marshall gave then-No. 3 Syracuse all it could handle Dec. 6, 2011, but fell 62-56 in its last matchup against a ranked opponent.

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