On Saturday night, the Bearcats were on the losing end of a 65-55 contest against their longtime rival -- the Xavier Musketeers -- in the annual Crosstown Shootout. Surely head coach Mick Cronin and Cincinnati can't wait to get the taste of defeat out of their mouth and today they will get an opportunity to get back to their winning ways after losing twice in their last three contests.
Meet The Opponent:
Two games ago, the Bearcats faced off against Morgan State, a program hailing from the MEAC. Today, it will be much of the same as they will welcome Norfolk State into Fifth Third Arena. Coming into the match-up, the Spartans hold a record of 4-5 and have been able to walk away victorious in three of their last four games. With that being said, their best victory may very well have came against the 2-8 Coppin State Eagles. As for the toughest challenge, outside of tonight's match-up against the Bearcats, it was likely in game one against South Carolina where they were beaten by 15 points by the Gamecocks.
For Norfolk State to stand any chance in this one, they'll probably need big games for all three of their top scorers and then some others will need to chip in too. Senior guard Jeff Short is having a solid start to his final collegiate season as he is averaging 18.1 points per game with a field goal percentage north of 45%. Short also chips in with 3.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game for head coach Robert Jones. The two other Spartans who often make their mark in the scoring column are also senior guards -- Charles Oliver and D'Shon Taylor. Oliver is currently sitting with a 13.1 points per game average. As for Taylor, he's Norfolk State's second leading scorer with 15.3 and their second leading rebounder with 6.5 per contest. The thing to watch with these three is that they all can get it done from distance. The three scorers for the Spartans are all shooting over 45% from three-point range.
Numbers To Know:
The Bearcats, even after allowing over 65 or more points in each of their last three games, only give up 59.1 points per game. That's good for a pretty impressive top ranking in that category. As for Norfolk State, they are tied for 194th when it comes to how many they score. Like mentioned above, the three main contributors for the Spartans are gonna need to pitch in big-time for the Bearcats to receive any sort of worry in this one.
Outside of the aforementioned Taylor and sophomore forward Jordan Butler, who both average over six per night, Norfolk State struggles on the glass. They only pull down an average of 36.8 board per game which is good enough -- or bad enough -- to tie them for 201st in the country. Gary Clark and Ocatvius Ellis both eclipse the averages of the Spartans leading rebounders and Coreontae DeBerry and Shaq Thomas aren't very far off.
The Ken Pomeroy ranking for the Bearcats opposition today is 245. That's not very good, but what do you expect when you don't have an impressive win and have some not-so-good losses like a 21 point loss to the 2-5 Northern Kentucky Norse. Even after this past weekend, UC still ranks in the top 25 and is second in the AAC, just behind SMU. The undefeated Cyclones of Iowa State are ranked just a couple spot above the Bearcats.
How To Watch:
Game Time: 7:00 P.M. EST
TV: ESPNU, WatchESPN