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The Layup Line: Morehead State

11 straight home wins over regular season non-conference opponents. The Eagles of Morehead State would love to make the 2-hour trip home on Wednesday as the team that broke that streak.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe the offensive execution by the Cincinnati Bearcats wasn't as crisp as you wanted during Friday's victory over Saint Francis. I, for one, thought they'd score more than 52 points. But with a sample size of one, I'm confident enough to say this year's offense won't be offensive. There was a lot to like - especially in the first half.

And it's still early.

That'll be the mantra for the Bearcats until January. It'll take time for these guys to learn a brand new offense, so repeat and rinse. It's still early.

Enter Morehead State. The Eagles might just be the perfect team to come into Cincinnati and knock off a young, yet talented, Bearcat squad.

  • Game: Wednesday, November 19 @ 7:00pm
  • Location: Fifth Third Arena; Cincinnati, OH
  • TV/Radio: Fox Sports Ohio/ESPN3; 700 WLW

At first read, I don't blame you for scoffing. Morehead State hasn't beat an opponent the likes of Cincinnati since, well, I don't know. Grabbing the Bearcats scalp - at Fifth Third Arena nonetheless - would be quite the trophy for their mantle.

The Eagles are experienced. Their starting five consists of 2 fifth-year seniors and 3 fourth-year players. As Bearcats head coach Mick Cronin said yesterday, "the opposite of us, obviously..."

Oh - and one of the key cogs off the Morehead State bench is also a fifth-year senior. Well then.

Why am I the least bit worried about a team from the Ohio Valley Conference upsetting the Bearcats on their own campus?

The Eagles play hard. The kind of hard that Cronin's Bearcats have become renown for. So hard, in fact, that they almost hustled their way to an upset of UNLV - in Las Vegas nonetheless - just last week. The Eagles only shot 30% from the field and 32% from three-point land in that game, and they lost by 1. After being up 11 in the second half.

What the 'Cats have to do to win:

  • Get 6+ Steals. The six is arbitrary, really, but the point is that they need to hustle on the defensive end of the court. UC grabbed 11 steals in their last victory - many that led to easy baskets on the other end. Active hands on Wednesday night will help ease Cincinnati's transition into a new offense.
  • Defensive Rebound. Outside of Octavius Ellis, I wasn't impressed with any of our bigs' rebounding desire. Morehead State posted a +7 offensive rebounding margin over UNLV, and it was a huge reason as to why they were in the game at the buzzer.
  • Protect the Ball. The Bearcats had 17 turnovers in their season opener. Against an experienced team like Morehead State, I really hope we're not talking about 17 turnovers on Thursday morning - or else things might not end up as we'd like.

I have an uneasy feeling about this game, but it may just be my normal early season jitters. But with a young Cincinnati team, this is the exact type of opponent I don't want the Bearcats to play - a hard-nosed, grind-it-out style; a style Bearcat fans should be abundantly familiar with. The problem, though, is that at this point in the season, the Eagles just might be better at that kind of game. I'll say the Bearcats win a tough one: 63-58.