The loss to Rhode Island last weekend pushed the Cincinnati Bearcats out of the Top 25 temporarily, but a favorable early season schedule should get them back in the mix soon enough. Next up are the Samford Bulldogs. Here’s everything you’ll need to know before tip-off.
How to Watch
- Tipoff: 7 p.m. ET at Fifth Third Arena
- Television: ESPN3 (Not technically TV but you can watch online)
- Announcing crew: Jim Barber (play-by-play) and Home Drew (analyst)
- Radio: 700 WLW
- Announcing crew: Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Chuck Machock (analyst)
- Series history: 0-0 - This will be the first ever meeting between the Bearcats and Bulldogs
Meet the Opponent
The Bulldogs are coached by former Kentucky forward Scott Padgett. This will be Padgett’s third season with Samford where he’s accumulated a 29-39 record. His Bulldogs are 2-1 to start the season with double-digit wins over the San Diego and Campbell, and a double-digit loss to New Mexico State.
Samford plays a zone defense that features quick guards in the backcourt and the leading rebounder in the country in the frontcourt in Wyatt Walker. Walker comes into the game averaging 14.3 PPG, 15.0 RPG and even 1.0 APG. He’s a 6-9, 240 pound sophomore that hails from the same elite prep school as Duke’s Grayson Allen. He’s had a double-double in every game this year and will be the key to the Samford zone defense in tonight’s game. If he’s unable to limit Kyle Washington and Gary Clark on the inside then the Bearcats will put this game away early.
Guards Christen Cunningham and Demetrius Denzel-Dyson will be tasked with rotating and fighting through screens on the Bearcats outside shooters. Cunningham has struggled offensively to start the season. He shot just 3-11 against Campbell following a 1-5 performance against New Mexico State. Meanwhile, Denzel-Dyson has been a potent outside threat for the Bulldogs, scoring 20 points on 4-of-5 three-pointers to open the season against San Diego.
Kevin Johnson Time?
UC guards should have big games tonight, but nobody needs one more than senior Kevin Johnson. ohnson has frustrated Bearcats fans for the past three years as they’ve not-so-patiently waited for him to emerge into an outside shooting threat in the mold of Lazelle Durden, Darnell Burton, Steve Logan and Farad Cobb. He’ll never be at that level, but he has a pure shooter’s stroke, and has been in the system for three years. UC won’t face many opponents more suited to helping Johnson find some confidence than Samford.
So far this season Johnson is shooting just 23.5 percent from the field and 15.4 percent from behind the arc. His defensive game has obviously developed to the point that he’s a top-tier college defender (although he had some missteps against URI), but the Bearcats need better shooting from him than they’ve seen so far to warrant his 22 minutes per game.
Samford opponents are averaging 24 three-point attempts per game to start the season. Look for UC to surpass that number tonight as Jacob Evans and Troy Caupain try to build on their starts to the season. Evans is shooting 46% from behind the arc and 64% from the field. Past Mick Cronin teams have been plagued with a lack of offensive production, but the emergence of Evans coupled with the arrival of Kyle Washington has positioned this to be one of his most offensive talented teams. UC enters the game as 20-point favorites and shouldn’t have a difficult time covering if Evans, Washington and Caupain play up to par.
The Bearcats face off against the Lipscomb Barons at 2:30 p.n. on Saturday at Fifth Third Arena. Lipscomb has lost three straight games and is currently 2-4 on the season.