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Men's College Basketball
Preview
Middle Tennessee St. vs Cincinnati
When: 6:00 PM ET, Friday, November 28, 2014
Where: The Arena, Florida, Florida

Cincinnati has proven it can win at Fifth Third Arena, posting a 4-0 mark thus far and winning each contest by at least eight points. But it’s now time for a road test – or at least one on a neutral court in Niceville, Fla. – as the Bearcats face Middle Tennessee on Friday in the Emerald Coast Classic semifinals. Unbeaten Creighton and 3-1 Mississippi square off afterward in the second semifinal.

“It’s time for us to get out of here and play a few games on the road,” Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said after his team’s 59-50 win over North Carolina Central on Tuesday. “The most important thing for us is that we have to pack our defense with us and we have to take care of the ball. Once you get out of your own gym, if you turn the ball over, you are going to lose.” Like Cincinnati, Middle Tennessee also has won both of its on-campus Emerald Classic home games, beating Southern (66-48) and Northern Arizona (65-53) to prep for the trip south.

TV: 6 p.m. ET, web stream at emeraldcoastclassic.com

ABOUT MIDDLE TENNESSEE (3-1): The Blue Raiders, who are in their first season as members of Conference USA after winning a share of the Sun Belt regular-season title a year ago, also feature a reconfigured roster with one returning starter and nine newcomers - including four transfers. That lone returning starter, sophomore forward Reggie Upshaw Jr., is leading the squad in scoring (11.3) and rebounding (7.3), while senior guard Marcus Tarrance is averaging 10.5 points to double his 2013-14 scoring clip. Middle Tennessee is outrebounding opponents by almost seven per game and has forced 65 turnovers.

ABOUT CINCINNATI (4-0): The Bearcats’ trademark defensive intensity has carried them thus far as they’ve held three of their four opponents to 50 points or fewer. At the other end of the floor, though, there have been some growing pains as Cincinnati has made 57 turnovers as Octavius Ellis (11.8 points, nine rebounds) and Troy Caupain (10.5 points) are pacing a roster comprised of five returnees and seven newcomers. “No, (the offense) is definitely not where we want it to be, but we aren’t in a bad position either,” Cronin said. “We’re still getting together and learning what we do well and gelling together with seven new guys.”

TIP-INS

1. Cincinnati leads the all-time series 3-0 – all home victories – following a 69-48 win on Dec. 21.

2. The Bearcats will have the height advantage, with seven players standing 6-7 or taller, and are outrebounding opponents by 10 per game.

3. Wiith the 2-0 start in the Emerald Coast Classic, Cincinnati is 18-2 in in-season tournaments/events during Cronin’s nine seasons.

PREDICTION: Cincinnati 65, Middle Tennessee 51

Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Neutral Day Night Conf
Middle Tennessee St. 3-1 W2 3-1 0-0 0-0 1-0 2-1 0-0
Cincinnati 4-0 W4 4-0 0-0 0-0 1-0 3-0 0-0
Last Meeting
Middle Tennessee St. Cincinnati
Date Away Home Pts Reb FG% Pts Reb FG%
12/21/13 MTU 48 CIN 69 48 24 26.7 69 35 45.1
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Middle Tennessee St. K. Hammonds 17 50.0 2
Cincinnati S. Kilpatrick 23 50.0 3
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Middle Tennessee St. T. Knight 10 2 8
Cincinnati J. Jackson 12 4 8
Assists Player  
Middle Tennessee St. T. Knight 5
Cincinnati T. Caupain 4
Season
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Middle Tennessee St. R. Upshaw Jr. 45 33.3 18
Cincinnati O. Ellis 47 60.9 19
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Middle Tennessee St. R. Upshaw Jr. 29 10 19
Cincinnati O. Ellis 36 13 23
Assists Player  
Middle Tennessee St. J. Richmond 9
Cincinnati T. Caupain 11
Quickchart Matchup
Middle Tennessee St. Off vs  Cincinnati Defense
60.0 Points For
49.3 Points Against
34.3 FG%
35.0 FG%
36.3 Reb
23.3 Reb
Cincinnati Off vs  Middle Tennessee St. Defense
58.5 Points For
56.3 Points Against
41.9 FG%
40.5 FG%
23.3 Reb
29.7 Reb