A Look At USC Upstate Spartans

The Bearcats are back on the hardwood at Fifth Third Arena for a Monday night game; first tip is at 8:00 pm. Cincinnati will be coming off a victory this past Saturday and looking to add one to the win column.

The opponent this Monday is likely new to everyone in Cincinnati, the USC Upstate Spartans come to town from Spartanburg, South Carolina and play in the Atlantic Sun Conference. One Atlantic Sun conference member that might sound familiar is Gardner-Webb, the team that upset Kentucky in early November.

USC Upstate coach Eddie Payne is in his sixth season at the helm of the Spartan program and his 22nd overall in coaching. Eddie Payne played basketball at Wake Forest in college and professionally in Europe before joining the coaching ranks.

This year's Spartan squad has yet to find the win column in five outings. The schedule has been tough with games against Utah, Oregon State, and Akron. The Akron game was the closest, the final outcome was only by four points.

USC Upstate's leading scorer is senior guard Luke Payne who averages 14 points per game, no other Spartan scores in double figures. In Payne's last game he joined the 1000 career point club, making Payne the 17th player is Spartan history to reach that milestone. Payne is also the son of head coach Eddie Payne.

USC Upstate should be the perfect opponent to get some of the young players even more quality playing time. There is also a good chance that John Williamson will be limited if available at all, Williamson has a broken tooth that will require a root canal which will likely be performed Monday morning. I can't imagine playing basketball after getting a root canal.

If Williamson cannot go the Bearcats will need quality minutes from Kenny Belton who only played three minutes against Fairfield. In that game Coach Cronin rotated Rashad Bishop (12pts in 24 minutes) and Darnell Wilks (6pts in 17 minutes) at one forward, both may be needed on the floor at the same time if Williamson is limited.

Also expect Anthony McClain to see his minutes increase. In 10 minutes on Saturday McClain had three blocks and was a difference maker on defense.

An area of emphasis that Coach Cronin highlighted after the Fairfield game was offensive rebounding. The Bearcats were out rebounded 40 to 28 in that game and only had six total offensive rebounds on the afternoon. Playing minutes will likely be won or lost based on the performance on the offensive glass.

Injured point guard Jamual Warren will have his cast removed and his injury evaluated again on Monday. This is a weekly process that will continue until Warren is cleared to play. Regardless of the evaluation Warren is not expected to be in Monday night's lineup.

Bearcat Insider will be at the game and will give you a full insider's recap.


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