Lipscomb Bisons at Kentucky Wildcats: Game Preview

J. Meric

The Wildcats' next opponent is Lipscomb University from Nashville, Tennessee. This is another opportunity for the Wildcats to show their improvement.

Tomorrow, the Lipscomb Bisons make the trip up I-65 from Nashville to take on the Kentucky Wildcats in Rupp Arena. Let's look at some of the basics about the Bisons:

Lipscomb University
Founded: 1891
Enrollment: 4,278
Type: Private, Liberal Arts
Nickname: Bisons
Colors: Purple (PMS #268) and Gold (PMS #122)
Religious Affiliation: Church of Christ
Facility: Allen Arena
Capacity: 5,028
Athletic Affiliation: NCAA Division I
Conference: Atlantic Sun

Team Information
2011-12 Record: 13-18
Home Record: 6-7
Road Record: 5-11
Neutral Record: 2-0
2011-12 Atlantic Sun Record: 8-10 (7th)
All-Time NCAA Record: 176-179 (.496) / 12
seasons
All-Time A-Sun Record: 96-76 (.558) / 9
seasons
Regular Season Titles: 2 (2006, 2010)
Starters Returning/Lost: 3/2
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 6/5
A-Sun Tournament Titles: 0
Last Tournament Appearance: 2012
A-Sun Tournament Record: (4-8)
NIT Appearances: 1
Last NIT Appearance: 2006

Quick comparison of the seasons so far, courtesy of Statsheet.com:

Rank and Records LU UK
RPI #175 #97
Strength of Schedule #89 #74
Overall 4-4 6-3
Conference 0-0 0-0
Home 3-2 5-1
Away 1-2 0-1
Top 25 0-0 0-2
RPI Top 50 0-3 0-2


Personnel


Sophomore forward Malcom Smith leads the team in scoring at 12.7 points per game. His front-court mate and twin brother, sophomore forward Martin Smith, is just behind with 12.3. Both players also average just over 4.5 rebounds per game, but Martin is the more active defender, averaging over 2 steals per game. Both these guys are pretty short for Division I forwards at 6'5" and 6'4" respectively.

6'10" freshman center Stephen Hurt adds some much needed size to the Bisons' front court, and at 285#, Hurt is a serious load. Hurt averages 8.9 points and 6.3 rebounds from the center spot.

In the backcourt, Deonte Alexander, 6'1" senior, is the most efficient scorer on the team. He averages 11.6 points, 3 rebounds and 2.4 assists, and is a very good 3-point shooter at 39%. Khion Sankey is eiter the point guard or a better passer than Alexander, because though the junior guard has 2-guard size at 6'5", he averages 3.3 assists to lead the team.

Lipscomb's main reserves are freshman guard J.C. Hampton (6'1", 6.3 ppg), sophomore guard Carter Sanderson (6'1", 6.0 ppg) and fresman guard John Ross Glover (6'4", 6.0 ppg). Junior center Oscar Garcia (6'8", 225#, 3.4 pts, 3 rpg) provides the only real size off the Bisons' bench.

Style of play


Lipscomb likes to play the game at a very high tempo. They currently average 71 possession per game, which is 20th in Division I. In their game at Ole Miss, the Bisons and the Rebel Black Bears put together an 81 possession game, which is pretty blazing.

The Bisons like to play man-to-man, but because they are so small, they frequently switch to zone, and I expect they will have that difficulty against Kentucky. But don't be surprised to see Scott Sanderson, the Lipscomb coach, switch back and forth from zone to man frequently, as the Bisons have had some difficulty rebounding out of the zone, as you would expect.

Matchups


The big matchup to watch int this game will to see if Lipscomb can take advantage of the bulk of Hurt inside. He out-masses Nerlens Noel by over 60#, and it will give us a good look at how Noel will fare against much more massive players in the future. The thing to particularly watch is offensive rebounding. If Hurt has a field day, Kentucky fans can start to worry a little.

Another matchup to watch is the Smith brothers versus their fellow Clarksville, Tennessee home-town star, Alex Poythress. Both the Smiths and Poythress were finalists for Mr. Basketball in Tennessee, the Smiths for Class A, and Poythress for Class AAA. Malcolm won the award, as did Poythress. So we'll be seeing some of the best of Tennessee basketball facing off tomorrow.

Four Factors Comparison


The one notable thing about this chart is offensive rebounding. The Bisons are better than Kentucky is statistically, even considering four losses, some of them lopsided. This is the one area of concern in this game, and Kentucky has hopefully learned a lot about that in the past 10 days or so of Camp Cal.

Game Analysis


The Wildcats are simply too long, too tall and too athletic for Lipscomb. Lipscomb has rarely been efficient enough against any opponent to beat Kentucky, and in Rupp Arena, they will need to be far better on both offense and defense than they have been this year.

Lest you fear the Bisons will come in and shoot lights-out from three, they have shown no real propensity to do that this year. Lipscomb only shoots 30.2% from distance, 262nd in Division I.

This should be another game that Kentucky wins comfortably. Lipscomb has played 3 top-50 teams so far this year (they played Belmont twice), and they have lost to all of them. Their best victory this year has been against former Kentucky-killer Gardner-Webb by 4, and they did play a very respectable game against the Murray St. Racers in Nashville, making the game interesting until midway through the second half.

Don't look for the game to be that competitive against Kentucky, though.

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