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Game Preview: No. 15 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Memphis Tigers

With only four games left in the regular season, UC will look to hand Memphis a loss when the Tigers travel to Fifth Third Arena.

NCAA Basketball: Cincinnati at Memphis Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 15 Cincinnati Bearcats are coming off a 20-point win over Tulsa behind big efforts from Kyle Washington and Jacob Evans and now switch their focus to the Memphis Tigers. The season is winding down and no wins are a lock in late season conference play, and although an 18-9 Memphis team doesn't look like much, the 'Cats will need to be locked in on Thursday night to leave with a "W".

Get To Know The Opponent

The Memphis Tigers will enter Fifth Third Arena to play the UC Bearcats on Thursday for the first time this season. The Tigers hold an 8-6 conference record and sit in fifth place in the American Athletic Conference, while the Bearcats have only one conference loss at the No. 2 spot in the league. The names to pay attention to on Memphis are 6’9” ultra talented sophomore Dedric Lawson and their most improved player, 6’5” Junior Markel Crawford.

Lawson is the most talented player on the Tigers and quite honestly one of the most talented players in the entire conference. Lawson averages 19.5 points per game along with grabbing 10.1 rebounds per game, both of those leading the team. Crawford loves to put in his work on the perimeter and averages 14. 1 points per game and shoots 35.5% from behind the three-point arc. These two men will present the biggest problems for UC's defense on Thursday night.

Kevin Johnson’s Offense on the Rise while Caupain’s Fades

Typically, Kevin Johnson isn’t known for his ability to score on offense but rather for his lockdown defense, although lately that hasn't been the rrend. In his last three games, Johnson has averaged 14 points per game which is a big step up from his 8.9 season average. Johnson has been playing with more confidence on the offensive end of the ball, especially from behind the three-point line. While Cronin and company have to be extremely joyful for his upbeat play on offense, you can't help but see the drought that leader Troy Caupain has slipped into lately.

Caupain is the guy that the Bearcats look to in big moments in big games but he hasn’t really stepped up as of late. Troy has averaged 6.6 points per game over his last five outings which is a fall from his 10.1 season average. The biggest concern was Caupain’s two-point effort in the biggest game of the season at SMU, where the Bearcats win streak was ended.

It is extremely important that Johnson keeps up his offensive output and Caupain get back on track against Memphis on Thursday.

Prediction

We aren’t the only ones who know that will be imperative. Expect Johnson to continue his hot streak and for Caupain to play with purpose in getting back to his normal production as the Bearcats cobble together a win.