Lipscomb fought but fell late in a 90-85 loss to cross-town opponent, Tennessee State, at the Gentry Center.
The loss moves the Bisons to 2-2 in contests against in-town opponents.
Sophomore forward Jacob Ognacevic led the Bisons with 19 points in their 85-point outing.
Acuff has recently enjoyed the idea of two-big lineups and made it clear in his starting lineup that included forwards Matt Schner, Jacob Ognacevic, and Ahsan Asadullah.
Tennessee State scored within seconds of the opening tip on a Christian Brown transition layup, Brian Collins’ team followed that up by forcing the Bisons into a turnover.
That theme continued throughout the first half as the Tigers got out to a 29-13 lead behind nine early Lipscomb turnovers.
The Bisons quickly countered with a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 29-20, A.J McGinnis led the run with five of the seven points, including a three that energized the sizable contingent of Bisons’ fans.
From there, the Bisons caught fire and went on a 13-0 run to take a 40-33 lead into the half.
Lipscomb’s intensity in the final minutes of the period was unquestionably the highest it had been all season.
McGinnis led the balanced scoring attack with eight first-half points, Ognacevic along with sophomore guard Quincy Clark also added seven and six points respectively before the break.
The Bisons came out of the break without skipping a beat, as well.
Ognacevic sparked a 8-0 run that led the Bisons to a 13- point lead, their largest of the day to that point.
The Tigers got out to a small run shortly thereafter though and eventually cut the Bisons’ lead to just one with 9:48 to play.
The Bisons quickly regained the lead but let Tennessee State regain it with 6:48 to go before a timely Tommy Murr make that put Lipscomb back ahead.
Both groups traded buckets until Tennessee State took a six-point lead late in the half, the Bisons needed an answer.
That came from McGinnis on a deep three that shifted the momentum Lipscomb’s way until Tigers’ guard Jr. Clay answered with a tough shot over Ognacevic.
Ognacevic followed that with an And-1 on the other end that brought the deficit back to three.
The forward missed the following free throw but Lipscomb earned a stop and cut the lead to one behind a timely 3-pointer from Pruitt.
Tigers’ forward Zool Kueth knocked down two timely free throws that extended the deficit to three.
Sophomore guard Derrian Boyd tried to steal a bucket in transition but fell short of the rim.
Brown knocked down two free throws and sealed the Tigers 90-85 win.
One team had to lose, and it was Lipscomb
Sunday afternoon provided a thriller that neither team deserved to lose, but one team had to.
Lipscomb shot nearly 60% from the field and 44% from 3-point range in their 85-point outing.
Unfortunately for Lennie Acuff’s team, they couldn’t stop the Tigers, who shot 51.6% from the field and 52.6% from beyond the arc in their second-highest scoring output of the season.
The Bisons had one of their better performances of the year but couldn’t finish it with a win.
Three Quick Takes:
Tennessee State got Lipscomb out of character with its length and athleticism
The Tigers showed their hand early; they wanted to play fast, force turnovers, and overwhelm the Bisons.
Collins’ team was successful in that pursuit early and forced the Bisons into a staggering nine turnovers before the under-12 media timeout.
Tennessee State attacked Lipscomb in ways the Bisons hadn’t fully seen before Sunday afternoon’s contest.
Nearly every Lipscomb ballhandler was met with pressure as soon as they crossed the opposing 3-point line and was often given a second defender when they crossed half-court.
The Bisons’ bigs weren’t immune to overwhelming pressure either.
When Ognacevic or Asadullah got a one-on-one touch with their back to the basket, a second defender often immediately came flying at them.
The overwhelming nature of the Tigers led to ten turnovers combined between Lipscomb’s duo of starting bigs. Asadullah alone accounted for a team-high of seven.
The Tigers were successful on the defensive end because of the multitude of ways that they overwhelmed the Bisons.
Lipscomb sometimes turned it over because of a deflection or interception in the passing lanes but committed plenty of dead-ball turnovers such as travels, errant passes, or charges as well.
The Bisons finished with 25 turnovers as opposed to just 14. throughout the afternoon.
Tennessee State turned it over ten less times throughout the game throughout the night as well.
The turnover battle was the difference on Saturday afternoon.
Mcginnis and Clark were immense bright spots for Lipscomb
When Lipscomb trailed by 16 points in the first half, it wasn’t its talented frontcourt or starting backcourt that sparked their run; it was McGinnis and Clark.
The Cincinnati transfer led the Bisons’ first significant run with five of its seven points during the quick stretch, and Clark was steady in the absence of the then-injured Derrin Boyd.
The guards weren’t just two of Lipscomb’s leading scorers in the first half either; they were its energizers.
McGinnis’ intensity was loud and noticeable throughout the Bisons’ run as he slowed down some of Tennessee State’s best backcourt players; the rest of the group fed off of the sophomore forward as Lipscomb fought back.
Despite not starting at the beginning of the contest, McGinnis found himself on the floor at the start of the second 20-minute period, and Clark joined him shortly thereafter.
McGinnis was Lipscomb’s main star in the first half, but it was Clark who took that bill in the early second half of what may have been his best game as a Bison.
Instead of one of Lipscomb’s veterans, Clark was seen handling the ball, confidently making reads, and creating his own shot.
It was hard to tell that Clark, who has always been known to have talent but has been behind older guards for the entirety of his career, wasn’t a veteran himself.
The ceiling has always been there for the 6-foot-2 guard, who was averaging just 2.6 points per game as he walked into the Gentry Center, but that upside was shown in excess on Sunday afternoon.
The hope for Lipscomb is that they can more consistently get outings that look like this from the two talented guards.
Clark finished with 13 points and two turnovers while shooting 6-for-7 from the field.
McGinnis shot 4-for-8 from the field and 3-for-7 from 3-point range in his 11-point outing.
This team has an edge about them that past Lipscomb teams didn’t
After suffering a disheartening loss as double-digit favorites just two nights ago and looking overmatched for much of the first half, it would have been easy for Lipscomb to get ran off the floor in Sunday afternoon’s contest, but they didn’t…
The Bisons responded with 21 unanswered points to take a double-digit lead in the early second half.
That run was special and something that past Lipscomb teams may not have been capable of.
Acuff’s team just fed off of each other; they fought, when someone went down or didn’t have it there was someone was there to replace them.
The loss certainly stung, but Lipscomb’s coaching staff had to feel good about how the Bisons’ responded.
Lipscomb’s chance at an at-large NCAA tournament bid is all but gone
As an Atlantic Sun team, there isn’t much margin for error.
After being ranked 117th in the first NET rankings, the Bisons’ had an outside chance at being in the conversation for an at-large bid.
A weekend that included two quad-four losses all but ends those hopes no matter what happens throughout the rest of the season.
To achieve their goal of an NCAA tournament berth, the Bisons will now have to do it through winning the ASUN tournament and getting the automatic bid.
Lipscomb is back in action on Wednesday at Allen Arena against Tennessee Tech; that game will be streamed on The Bison, Lipscomb’s on-campus radio station.