Cincinnati senior Cashmere Wright was playing well before a knee injury caused him to miss a game two weeks ago. The star guard has returned but his game hasn't, and frustration is starting to set in.
Wright looks to put another forgettable performance behind him Saturday when the 24th-ranked Bearcats try to win for the first time in four visits to Seton Hall since joining the Big East.
Wright helped Cincinnati (17-4, 5-3) bounce back from its first back-to-back losses by scoring 23 points in a 68-58 win at Rutgers on Jan. 12 and 20 in a 75-70 victory at DePaul three days later, his best two-game scoring spree of 2012-13.
However, he injured his right knee against the Blue Demons and sat out a 71-69 overtime home win over No. 25 Marquette on Jan. 19. Wright, second on the Bearcats with 14.1 points per game, returned to the court at then-No. 3 Syracuse on Jan. 21, but he has struggled to get back on track.
He scored a season low-tying five points on 2-of-13 shooting in the 57-55 loss to the Orange, and even eight days off following that defeat were not enough to help him. Wright made 1 of 6 shots and had six points in Wednesday's 62-54 win over Rutgers.
Coach Mick Cronin wasn't pleased with some of Wright's antics against the Scarlet Knights. He picked up his second foul at the 16:07 mark, was limited to 20 minutes, had three turnovers and exchanged words on the bench with Cronin during a timeout.
"He mentally did some things tonight that he knows better," Cronin said. "He had a couple of passes that were beyond my comprehension, and a couple fouls where I thought an alien abducted his body.
"Him fouling a guy at half-court has nothing to do with his knee. Him throwing a bounce pass to a guy on the other team has nothing to do with his knee. You talk back, you bring that on yourself. I wasn't in the mood to hear anybody's answers."
Sean Kilpatrick, among the Big East leaders with 18.4 points per game, has helped pick up the slack with Wright less than 100 percent. The junior guard is averaging 23.5 points over the last four games.
"Cash has been battling a couple of injuries," Kilpatrick said. "With the injuries he has, I can't see anyone playing through it. But he always gives us his everything. That's a leader for you. He gives you everything until he can't walk anymore."
Wright and Kilpatrick combined for 20 points in the last matchup with Seton Hall, as Kilpatrick shot 3 for 8 - 1 of 5 from 3-point range - in a 62-57 win Feb. 18.
The Pirates (13-8, 2-6) are struggling heading into this meeting. They lost for the sixth time in seven games Wednesday, 74-52 at Georgetown, after committing 25 turnovers and setting season lows in points and shooting percentage at 32.6.
"We got a little frustrated," coach Kevin Willard said. "One of the things we're struggling with is understanding the different teams in this league."
Cincinnati has won the last two matchups in this series but is 0-3 visiting Seton Hall since entering the conference in 2005-06. The Pirates are 9-2 at home this season, holding opponents to an average of 58.5 points on 37.2 percent shooting.