NASHVILLE – The defending ASUN Champion Lipscomb Men's Basketball team opened its 2018-19 season Tuesday with a convincing 97-53 victory over the Sewanee Tigers in Allen Arena.
Redshirt freshman Ahsan Asadullah made a loud statement in his debut game as a Bison after missing all of 2017-18 with a torn ACL. The big man out of Atlanta was highly efficient, draining 11-of-12 shots from the floor and pouring in a game-high 26 points. He just missed a double-double with a game-high nine rebounds.
"He was pretty efficient, it's hard to argue with those numbers," Lipscomb head coach Casey Alexander said. "He played with a lot of poise down there and took his time. The matchup was definitely in our favor, so we took advantage with him."
Asadullah wowed the crowd on multiple occasions, but none more so than midway through the second half when he stepped out on the perimeter and poked the ball away from a driving Tiger immediately after finishing an and-one situation on the opposite end of the floor.
"Sitting out really made me become a better teammate off the court, outside of actually playing basketball," Asadullah said. "My teammates have been supporting me for a long time, so it' was good to get back out there with them."
ASUN Preseason Player of the Year Garrison Mathews struggled from the field most of the night, but found a way to cash in 16 points. To offset a 1-for-5 night from behind the arc, Mathews picked up where he left off last season from the free throw line, draining 7-of-8 attempts. He finished 12th nationally last season with 199 makes at the line.
At the 16:44 mark of the first half, senior guard Nate Moran checked into a game for the first time since March 2, 2017, bringing Lipscomb faithful to their feet. After missing all of last season with injury, Moran got back in the groove of things with 13 minutes of action.
"There will never be a time when I am disappointed he's out there. Nate knows what he is doing and plays with a lot of energy. He's a great leader and I am looking for him to have a great year."
He recorded six points after going 2-of-5 from the field, grabbed three boards and dished three assists.
Junior Kenny Cooper led a stingy Purple and Gold defense that limited Sewanee to just a 35.4 percent clip from the floor and forced 28 turnovers.
The Bisons swiped 20 steals from the Tigers – the most in a game in 10 years and the second most in the program's NCAA era. They picked up 24 steals in 2008 against Oakland City.
"Most of them were off the ball as the guys were in a ready stance and in gaps and made plays when it was their time," Alexander said. "A lot of times that number becomes what it is because you aren't making mistakes. You are forcing them to try and make plays and that was the case tonight."
Cooper, the ASUN's reigning top theft man from a year ago, recorded a career high seven thefts. Eli Pepper added three.
Behind five points from Mathews, Lipscomb raced out to a 6-0 lead and never looked back. The Bisons used a 14-0 run to build a 22-5 advantage nine minutes into the game and cruised to a 44-21 lead at the break. They held the Tigers to 29% from the field in the half.
Junior Andrew Fleming's trey with 3:40 to play gave Lipscomb its largest lead of the night at 91-43.
- Lipscomb shot 53.7% (36-of-67) from the floor while holding Sewanee to 35.4% (17-of-48).
- The Bisons used their size advantage to own a 41-27 rebounding advantage, including 12 to four on the offensive end.
- They also claimed a decisive 54-16 advantage in the paint over the Tigers.
- Lipscomb hit 17-of-25 from the charity stripe, while the Tigers drained just 10-of-21.
- On fastbreak points Lipscomb controlled the game 17-0.
- Sewanee connected on nine treys, and the Bisons connected on eight.
- 13 players scored for the Bisons and 12 grabbed a rebound.
- Freshmen Alex Jones and Jake Wolfe made their collegiate debuts. Jones scored nine points on 4-of-5 shooting while Wolfe scored three.
- Michael Buckland, along with Mathews, saw the court a team-high 22 minutes. He finished with six points and a team-high four assists.
- The Bisons held Sewanee to 53 points for the second straight meeting. In 2016 Lipscomb downed the Tigers 96-53.