The champs are here. The Cayman Islands Classic champs that is, as the No. 11 Cincinnati Bearcats return from a holiday trip with some hardware and a battle against the Alabama State Hornets on the docket. The game will take place tonight at BB&T Arena as a final appetizer before the Crosstown Shootout against Xavier.
How to Watch, Stream, Listen
- Tipoff: 7 p.m. ET
- Television/Stream: ESPNU/WatchESPN
- Announcing crew: Jordan Bernfield (play-by-play) and Brooke Weisbrod (analyst)
- Radio: 700 WLW AM
- Announcing crew: Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Terry Nelson (analyst)
- Series history: In its first game of the 2011-12 season, the Bearcats routed Alabama State 65-40. It was the first and only previous meeting between these two programs.
Who are the Alabama State Hornets?
The early season has not featured many heavyweight programs for the Bearcats to challenge themselves against. That trend will continue on Monday night. Alabama State has lost its first six games of the season and is ranked No. 344 out of 351 by KenPom. A deteriorating success rate has bee occurring before this season, as the Hornets have had a decrease in wins in each of the previous two seasons. They went just 8-23 a year ago, following 14 and 19 wins in the two years prior.
Interestingly enough, these two teams do have a common opponent this year, as the Hornets just played Savannah State, UC’s foe in its season opener. While the Bearcats trounced the Tigers 107-77, the Hornets came up just short, losing 101-97. They recorded an offensive rating of 110.2 and had four players in double figures, including Jacoby Ross, who scored 20 points off the bench, including 15 from beyond the arc.
While Ross, a freshman, had an excellent shooting night against the Tigers, Reginald Gee, a sophomore guard, has been the top scorer on the roster, averaging 14.8 points per game. Gee still had 19 points against Savannah State while Branden Johnson scored 11 points, grabbed 11 boards and blocked two shots in 28 minutes.
The 97-point pace at which the Hornets played last time out was more a symptom of the torrid rush of Savannah State’s offense, since ASU ranks 335th in adjusted offense, while sitting 107th in adjusted tempo.
Despite their offensive and defensive output (allowing 94 PPG), the Hornets are a decent rebounding squad, especially on the offensive glass. They rank 66th in the country in offensive boards. They also take a healthy number of three-point shots, partially due to a severe weakness when it comes to scoring around the rim.
Clark Claims the Caymans
For his work in the Cayman Islands Classic, Gary Clark was named tournament MVP. He averaged 16.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game and also produced shooting splits of .533/.429/.875 in the three-contest event. In the title game against Wyoming, he tallied 17 points to go with six rebounds and two blocks while connecting on 8-of-12 shots from the field.
On the season, Clark has feasted on a less than stellar rogues gallery, as he is averaging 13.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. He is also playing at stellar level based on his incredible offensive (146.0) and defensive (73.0) ratings. He will obviously receive more of a test as the season progresses, but it appears that senior year Clark is not messing around.
Even if the Bearcats didn’t get back to Cincinnati from the Caymans until tonight at 7:30, they’d still be able to win. The production will be spread throughout the roster, perhaps for the last time, as the schedule really kicks into gear once December begins.
Cincinnati 91 Alabama State 55