How Kentucky and Cincinnati match up for Saturday's men's NCAA Tournament Midwest Region round of 32 game:
■ Cincinnati's Shaq Thomas (6.3 ppg, 3 rpg) is more solid than flashy, having scored in double figures nine times out of 32 games. The 6-foot-7, 210-pound redshirt junior, the nephew of former Villanova and NBA player Tim Thomas, struggled with his shot (1-for-6) in UC's overtime victory over Purdue in the round of 64 but did grab six rebounds.
■ Kentucky's Trey Lyles has been labeled by John Calipari as UK's "X-factor." The 6-10, 235-pound freshman from Indianapolis has averaged 10.9 points and 5.2 rebounds in UK's previous 10 games.
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■ A selection to The American Athletic Conference All-Rookie Team, Cincinnati freshman Gary Clark (8 ppg, 7.2 rpg) scored nine points and grabbed 12 rebounds vs, Purdue. It was the seventh double-digit rebounding game of the season for the 6-7, 233-pounder from Clayton, N.C.
■ There were no NCAA Tournament jitters for UK's Karl-Anthony Towns. The 6-11, 255-pound freshman dropped 21 points and 11 rebounds on Hampton. It was the fifth double-double in the past 11 games for the Piscataway, N.J., product.
■ Octavius Ellis was ejected from Cincinnati's win over Purdue after being called for a flagrant two foul. Television replays showed Ellis appeared to throw a forearm into the neck of Purdue's A.J. Hammons. The 6-10, 226-pound junior is the Bearcats' leading scorer (9.9 ppg) and rebounder (7.1).
■ Tournament play has so far agreed with Kentucky's Willie Cauley-Stein. The 7-foot, 242-pound junior has averaged 12.3 points, 8 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots in UK's four postseason tourney games. The Olathe, Kan., product's ability to switch defensively and then smother smaller players may be his most valuable asset.
■ Cincinnati's Farod Cobb had a team-best 14 points in the win over Purdue. The 6-1, 175-pound junior (8.5 ppg) from West Palm Beach, Fla., is a capable three-point shooter. As a freshman for Chattanooga in 2012-13, he made seven of eight three-pointers to score 21 points against Kansas. This year at Cincinnati, he's made 34.2 percent (51 of 149) of his three-point tries.
■ Kentucky's Aaron Harrison did not make a field goal (0-for-5, 0-for-2 on three-pointers) vs. Hampton. That ended a five-game stretch in which the 6-6 sophomore from Richmond, Texas, had made 50 percent (21 of 42) of his shots. Given that Harrison hit three-game winning shots in UK's drive to the 2014 national championship game, whatever bothered him against Hampton was presumably not tourney nerves.
■ Cincinnati's Troy Caupain hit the biggest shot of the UC season Thursday night against Purdue when his runner just ahead of the final buzzer traveled all around the rim before finally settling through the hoop to force overtime. The 6-4, 200-pound sophomore (9.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.5 assists) has a knack for playing big against the best teams. He had a career-high 20 points against defending national champion Connecticut in January. In a victory at then-No. 23 SMU, he hit all three of his three-point tries and scored 14 points.
■ Kentucky's Andrew Harrison is on a late-season surge. The 6-6 sophomore from Richmond, Texas, made the All-SEC Tournament Team and has scored in double figures in eight of his past 12 games. He had 14 points with three assists and no turnovers against Hampton.
■ Cincinnati goes eight deep and the Bearcats' bench played big vs. Purdue. After Octavius Ellis was ejected, 6-9, 275-pound wide load Coreontae DeBerry came in and scored 13 points, including four of UC's seven in overtime. Sophomore guard Kevin Johnson hit three of five shots (two of four three-pointers) for eight points. Senior forward Jermaine Sanders chipped in six rebounds.
■ Kentucky has more quality depth than any team in the country — but some of that depth is struggling now. Freshman guard Devin Booker has made only 11 his past 34 shots (six of 18 three-pointers) over the past six games. Dakari Johnson, the 7-foot sophomore, is 9-for-24 from the floor in the past eight games. On the plus side, sophomore forward Marcus Lee has made six of nine field goals in the past three games. John Calipari seems to be relying ever-more on freshman point guard Tyler Ulis, who is averaging 29.5 minutes a game in four postseason tourney contests.
■ Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin — sidelined since Dec. 20 by health problems but on the mend and with the Bearcats in Louisville — told the media Wednesday there is some chance he would be cleared to return if UC makes it to the round of 16. Is there any chance the ex-Murray State head man makes a surprise return to the bench Saturday?
■ UK will have a massive home-court advantage playing in its home state. The Cats also have the knowledge that the light at the end of the unbeaten tunnel is drawing ever nearer.