Middle Tennessee (8-3) at Cincinnati (8-2)
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 21, 2 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Fifth Third Arena (13,176) -- Cincinnati, Ohio. Television: FSN-OH. Home Record: MT 7-1, UC 7-0. Away Record: MT 1-2, UC 0-1. Neutral Record: MT 0-0, UC 1-1. Conference Record: MT 0-0, UC 0-0. Series Record: UC leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: The Cincinnati Bearcats return home to Fifth Third Arena this afternoon to take on the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee in non-conference action.
Middle Tennessee enters the contest at 8-3 and hoping to build upon Tuesday's 102-52 rout over Christian school Tennessee Temple. However, that win came at home, and the Blue Raiders have notched only one road victory in three tries this season.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati improved to 8-2 with Tuesday's 44-43 win over Pittsburgh in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden. Titus Rubles made the game- winning bucket with 4.2 seconds remaining to hand the Panthers their first loss of the season. Today's contest kicks off a four-game homestand for the Bearcats. UC is 7-0 at home this season.
Cincinnati won both prior meetings in the series with the Blue Raiders, although this marks the first clash between the two since 2003-04.
Six players scored in double figures for MT in the win over Tennessee Temple, led by Reggie Upshaw's game-high 18 points and eight rebounds off the bench. The Blue Raiders simply dominated from start to finish, as they forced 19 turnovers while committing only eight, and held a 47-28 rebounding advantage. Middle Tennessee shot 50.7 percent from the floor in addition to holding the Crusaders to 39.2 percent shooting. On the season, Shawn Jones paces the squad in scoring (14.3 ppg) and rebounding (7.9 rpg), and he is shooting a robust 64.3 percent from the floor. Neiko Hunter (13.3 ppg) and Kerry Hammonds (11.4 ppg) round out the team's double-digit scorers.
The Bearcats have leaned heavily on senior guard Sean Kilpatrick, who is averaging 18.3 ppg while shooting 40 percent from 3-point range (26-of-65). Justin Jackson is second on the team in scoring with an average of 9.8 ppg. Through 10 games, Cincinnati boasts a +14.0 scoring margin, and is +3.7 in rebounding differential and +6.7 in the turnover department (10.6 per game). Tuesday's game against Pittsburgh was reminiscent of many classic battles between the former Big East Conference rivals, as neither team shot better than 38 percent from the floor. The Bearcats managed to win despite attempting only three free throws in the game. Jackson led the way with 12 points and nine boards.
The Blue Raiders had little trouble disposing of an overmatched Tennessee Temple team earlier this week, but the going will be much tougher against a Cincy squad that is unbeaten at home this season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cincinnati 73, Middle Tennessee 57
12/21 11:05:04 ET