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Cleveland State Takes on #1 Ranked Kentucky Today in Bluegrass Showcase

GAME #4
Bluegrass Showcase

Cleveland State (1-2) at #1/1 Kentucky (4-0)
Wednesday, November 23 | 1:00 pm | Lexington, Ky.
Live Stats | SEC Network | AM 1420 WHK

GAME PREVIEW:
•     Cleveland State continues play in the Bluegrass Showcase with a 1:00 pm game at No. 1 ranked Kentucky on Wednesday (Nov. 23).
•    The Vikings are 1-2 this season following an 85-74 setback at UT-Martin on Friday (Nov. 18) night.
•    Kentucky is 4-0 this year and moved into the top spot in the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top-25 polls on Monday. The Wildcats defeated Duquesne, 93-59, on Sunday night.
•    Wednesday’s game will be broadcast live on AM 1420 and AM 1440 with Al Pawlowski providing the play-by-play.
•    The game will also be shown live on the SEC Network and the WatchESPN app with Dave Neal and Kyle Macy on the call.

THE KENTUCKY SERIES:
•     Kentucky leads the all-time series with CSU, 2-0.
•    The Wildcats won the first meeting during the 2009-10 season in Cancun, and defeated CSU in Rupp Arena in 2012-13.
•    Kentucky was ranked fourth in the country in both previous meetings with the Vikings.

GAME 3 REVIEW: UT-MARTIN 85, CSU 74 (11/18/16):
•     UT-Martin used a 27-3 midway through the first half to take a 50-23 lead at the half. CSU was able to cut the deficit to four points with 2:27 left, but could get no closer.
•    Rob Edwards led the Vikings with 22 points, while Bobby Word scored 14 points and added three steals.
•    Derek Sloan had 10 points and four rebounds and Jibri Blount finished with seven points, a career-high tying 11 rebounds and three assists.

CSU vs. RANKED TEAMS:
•     Wednesday’s game will be the 48th all-time contest for CSU against a ranked team and the 20th against a top-five team.
•    CSU is 6-41 all-time against ranked teams and 1-18 against top-10 teams. The lone win over a top-10 team was a 71-58 victory at No. 7 Vanderbilt in the 2011-12 season opener.
•    Head coach Gary Waters is 5-17 against ranked teams during his time at CSU.
•    Wednesday will be the third time CSU has faced Kentucky with the Wildcats ranked in the top-five for all three match-ups.
•    Kentucky becomes the sixth opponent that CSU will play at least three times when ranked, joining Butler (9 times), Michigan (7), Cincinnati (4) and Michigan State and Ohio State (3).
•    This will be CSU’s first game against a ranked opponent since an 80-63 loss at No. 2 ranked Maryland (11/28/15).

… AND vs. THE NO. 1 RANKED TEAM:
•     Wednesday’s game will be the second time in school history that CSU will play the top ranked team in the country.
•    The Vikings fell to No. 1 Cinncinati, 91-56, at the 1999 Big Island Invitational in Hilo, Hawaii.

FOR THREE:
•    CSU has hit a three-pointer in a school-record 569 straight games.
•    The Vikings have hit at least three three’s in 117 straight games.
•     The last time CSU failed to make a three-pointer was Feb. 21, 1998, when the Vikings were 0-for-8 in a 60-57 win over Detroit.

EDWARDS PROVES WORTHY OF PRESEASON HONOR:
•     Sophomore Rob Edwards was named to the preseason All-Horizon League second team.
•    He ranks eighth in the Horizon League in scoring (17.0) and free throw percentage (.846) and 10th in three-point percentage (.444).
•    Edwards scored 22 points at UT-Martin on Friday night, the fifth 20-point game of his career.
•    Last year, he averaged 12.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game last year, earning a spot on the Horizon League All-Freshman team.
•    He started 30 games last year, the most for a freshman in CSU history, and also logged a CSU freshman record 994 minutes.

KASH DROPPING DIMES:
•     Freshman Kasheem Thomas ranks second in the Horizon League with 6.3 assists per game.
•    Thomas’ 19 assists are the third most by a League player this year. He had nine assists in the season opener vs. Kent State (Nov. 12) and handed out seven against Canisius (Nov. 15).
•    Thomas has a 2.7 assist-to-turnover-ratio, committing just seven turnovers to his 19 assists.

… AND HE’S JUST A FRESHMAN:
•     Kasheem Thomas is averaging 7.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists through three games.
•    He ranks eighth in the Horizon League in three-point percentage (.455), hitting five of his 11 three’s.
•    Thomas became the first CSU freshman to start a season opener since 2003-04 (Walt Waters) when he drew a starting assignment vs. Kent State (Nov. 12).

WORD UP:
•     Junior Bobby Word made his CSU debut against Kent State (Nov. 12). He sat out last season after transferring from Oral Robets.
•    He ranks 10th in the League in scoring (15.0), third in three-pointers (3.0) and 13th in three-point percentage (.409; 9-22).
•    Word scored a team-high 17 points against Kent State, hitting four three-pointers and 5-of-6 from the free throw line.
•    As a sophomore at ORU, Word averaged 8.4 points and was tops on the team with 56 three’s. He scored in double figures 14 times, including a career-high 22 points in the second round of the CBI against Loyola (Ill.).

THE LONE SENIOR:
•     Demonte Flannigan is the lone senior on this year’s 17 player roster. He has missed the first three games of the season (ill).
•    Last season, Flannigan ranked second on team in scoring (11.4) and rebounding (5.4).
•    He was also 10th in the League in blocked shots (0.9), 13th in field goal percentage (.485), 16th in rebounding, 21st in scoring.
•    He posted five double-doubles as a junior and poured in a career-high 30 points in a win at Youngstown State (Feb. 13).

SLOAN STEPS IN:
•     With Demonte Flannigan out of the lineup to start the season, junior Derek Sloan has been inserted into the starting lineup.
•    Sloan has responded well, averaging 7.3 points and 4.3 rebounds, while leading the Horizon League in field goal percentage (.714; 10-14).
•    Sloan set career highs in points (10) and rebounds (7) against Canisius (Nov. 15), hitting five of his seven shots from the floor in just 17 minutes.
•    He made 4-of-5 field goals at UT-Martin (Nov. 18), tying his career high with 10 points.

ALL IN THE FAMILY:
•     Sophomore Jibri Blount is the son of NFL Hall of Famer and former Pittsburgh Steelers great Mel Blount who played 14 seasons for the Black and Gold.
•    As a starting forward this year, he is averaging 8.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.
•    Blount tied his career-high with 11 rebounds at UT-Martin (Nov. 18).
•    Blount had a strong freshman season, averaging 5.7 points and 3.1 rebounds in 29 games, including five starts.

BIG SHOT JAMARCUS:
•     Junior Jamarcus Hairston had a strong debut in the season opener vs. Kent State (Nov. 12), totaling 13 points (4-7 FG) and two rebounds.
•    Hairston hit a three-pointer from the corner with 2.6 seconds to play that tied the contest at 66-66 and sent it into overtime.

EVAN ALMIGHTY:
•     Freshman Evan Clayborne has provided the Vikings with a spark as one of the first big men off the bench this year.
•    He is averaging 1.3 points and 2.0 rebounds per game with two blocks and two steals, while also providing a defensive presence around the basket.
•    Clayborne played 32 minutes in the season opener vs. Kent State and grabbed four rebounds.

UP NEXT:
•    The Vikings conclude play in the Bluegrass Showcase on Sunday (Nov. 27) with a 2:00 pm game at Duquesne.
•    CSU concludes a four-game road swing with an 8:00 pm ET game at Arkansas State on Wednesday (Nov. 30).

Matt Loede has been a part of the Cleveland Sports Media for over 21 years, with experience covering Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, the National Football League and even high school and college events. He has been a part of the Cleveland Indians coverage since the opening of Jacobs/Progressive Field in 1994, and spent two and a half years covering the team for 92.3 The Fan, and covers them daily for Associated Press Radio. You can follow Matt on Twitter HERE.

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