Dreams of facing No. 1 Duke in an early season scuffle vanished into thin air yesterday afternoon, as No. 24 Cincinnati let a 76-71 decision slip away against the No. 21 Rhode Island Rams.
Now the Bearcats will just have to settle for a matchup in the consolation round of the Naismith Hall of Fame Tip-Off against the Penn State Nittany Lions. Here are all the details you’ll need before tip-off.
How to Watch
- Tipoff: 3:30 p.m. ET at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut
- Television: ESPN2
- Announcing crew: Bob Picozzi (play-by-play), Malcolm Huckaby (analyst) and Jeff Goodman (sideline reporter)
- Radio: 1360 AM WSAI
- Announcing crew: Mo Egger (play-by-play) and Chuck Machock (analyst)
- Series history: In the only previous meeting between these programs, Penn State claimed a 74-66 victory in Philadelphia during the 1973-74 season. UC went 19-8 that year and was led by Lloyd Batts (21.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG).
Meet the Opponent
The Nittany Lions, entrenched in their sixth season under head coach Patrick Chambers, have started this season much the same way the last few have gone. After accumulating a combined record of exactly 50-50 the last three seasons, they have split their first four games this year. They lost to Albany to start the year then picked up two victories against Duquesne and Grand Canyon before falling short in the Tip-Off semifinals against the Blue Devils yesterday afternoon.
Freshman guard Tony Carr produced a game-high 20 points on 8-of-19 shooting in the losing effort. Carr was one of four starters to finish in double figures, but Duke’s depth helped neutralize PSU, with the Blue Devil reserves outscoring those from PSU 19-5, helped primarily by 17 off the bench from freshman guard Frank Jackson.
Carr (16.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 4.3 APG) has been a great all-around backcourt contributor for the Nittany Lions, scoring at a high rate and dishing out dimes better than anyone on the roster. Another youngster, freshman forward Lamar Stevens (16.0 PPG), and junior forward Payton Banks (12.8 PPG) are some other primary contributors to watch.
Evans and Washington Dominating
Its been a recurring theme through the first three games of the season, but Jacob Evans and Kyle Washington are really, really good. Evans is fulfilling his destiny as the next great UC scorer, averaging 22.3 points per game. He hasn’t just been hoisting every shot he can find without regard for the outcome either. He leads the team in true shooting percentage (.761) and effective field goal percentage (.743). In yesterday’s loss he had a game-high 25 points on 8-of-12 from the floor. Its no longer a question of if Evans can score, but how much.
As for Washington, he recorded his second double-double of the season against URI, posting a career-high 23 points to go with 10 rebounds. Even though Evans is the team’s leading scorer, Washington actually leads the way in usage (28.9 percent) and has been a dominant force on both ends.
Where Have You Gone, Gary Clark?
Last year’s AAC Defensive Player of the Year has struggled in the early season. He is averaging only 6.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game and is shooting just 45 percent from the field. He knocked down 51.8 percent of his field goal tries last year and was even better as a freshman (.524). His work on the boards has perhaps taken the more alarming drop, as his total rebound percentage (13.0) is three points below his mark from a year ago. With only six points (on 2-of-11 shooting) and 10 combined rebounds the last two games, concern may be seeping in, but it shouldn’t considering the small sample size. However, getting Clark back to form will be crucial going forward.
The Bearcats will return home for a Thanksgiving eve matchup against the Samford Bulldogs after they finish off play today.