NIT Tournament: Cincinnati at Indiana State Preview

The Bearcats (22-14) run through the NIT continues tonight when they travel to Terre Haute, Indiana for a 9 pm tip off against the Indiana State Sycamores (30-6).

Cincinnati is coming off a convincing 74-57 win over Bradley, in which freshman Jizzle James scored a career high 25 points. James, Simas Lukosius, and Dan Skillings combined for 62 of UC's 74 points in the win.

Indiana State has won 30 games, for just the second time in program history. 

The Sycamores defeated SMU, 101-92, and Minnesota, 76-64, to reach the quarter finals of the NIT.

Offensively, Indiana State has been one of the best teams in the country. 

Josh Schertz program finished the season first in points scored, eighth in points per game (84.4), third in field goal percentage (50.5%), fifth in free throw percentage (79.7), tenth in 3-point percentage (38.5), and 12th in assists per game (17.5).

Those numbers equate to the No. 1 effective field goal percentage in the country (59.8%) and the 18th best adjusted offensive efficiency. 

Following Cincinnati's win over Bradley, Braves head coach Brian Wardle broke down the Sycamores and how Cincinnati matches up:

"They're very good offensively and they're highly skilled. High IQ. High feel players."

The Sycamores will roll out a four-guard lineup led by 6-foot-4 sophomore Ryan Conwell.

Conwell is averaging 16 ppg on the season and has scored 25 and 23 over his past two games of the NIT.

This will be the key defensive assignment for UC's John Newman III.

Conwell's game compliments 5-foot-10 Isaiah Swope (15.9 ppg) and 6-foot-3 Julian Larry well. 

Larry leads the team in three-point percentage (46.8%) but is more of a lead guard that distributes and sets his teammates up.

Swope is the highest volume outside shooter of the bunch. He has connected on 36.4 percent of his 291 attempts this season. 

While Indiana State doesn't have much depth in the front court, they are led by two skilled big man in 6-foot-10 Robbie "Cream Abdul-Jabbar" Avila and 6-foot-8 Jayson Kent.

Avila is the leading scorer for Indiana State (17.1 ppg) but it is Kent who was the hero in the opening round win over SMU, with 35 points, 9 rebounds. Kent followed that game with a 16-point, 11 rebound performance in the win over Minnesota. 

Avilla is a skilled big guy that will be an interesting match up for UC's bigs. 

Nicknamed "Milk Chamberlain" and "Larry Nerd", among others, Avila connects at a 38% clip from deep but also averages 6.6 rebounds per game and four assists per game. 

Kent is the leading rebounder for Indiana State (8.2 per game).

Depth could be an issue tonight if the game becomes an up and down battle.

6-foot-6 senior Xavier Bledson comes off the bench and averages 6.6 ppg and just under three rebounds and assists per game. 

Like Kent, Bledson can also make shots from the perimeter. Bledson has hit 35.8 percent of his attempts this season. 

Final Thoughts:

Cincinnati is going to have to play well offensively to win this game. The Bearcats should have an advantage of the boards with their length and athleticism but will have to defend the perimeter and force the Sycamores in to tough shots. As good as ISU is offensively, they are 102nd in defensive efficiency and 279 in forcing their opponents in to turnovers. 

Take care of the ball, crash the offensive glass, and connect from deep at a respectable clip and the Bearcats should be able to find a way to win in a tough road environment. 

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