BY JEFF EVANS, Californian staff writer
Tonight is the latest "benchmark" game as Cal State Bakersfield continues its trek to full NCAA Division I membership.
The Roadrunners (2-11) play at longtime NCAA power Cincinnati (10-4) today at 4:30 p.m. PST.
The game benefits the cash-strapped CSUB athletic department. Cincinnati is giving CSUB a $90,000 guarantee to play the game, coach Keith Brown said after Sunday's loss to Loyola Marymount.
"It's a big day," Brown said Sunday. "It's the largest revenue game for the university."
By the end of this season, at least seven of CSUB's road games will bring cash back to the program, totaling more than $300,000.
One of the benefits of moving to Division I is facing notable programs such as Cincinnati.
The Bearcats are the first Big East Conference team the Roadrunner basketball program has faced. Cincinnati is off to a 2-1 conference start, including a 71-69 upset win over then-No. 10 UConn.
"I'm very excited playing a team like that," said CSUB junior point guard Donavan Bragg. "We're going to go in very aggressive."
Senior forward Santwon Latunde, coming off a CSUB record-tying 21-rebound game vs. LMU, calls today's matchup "a basketball player's dream."
"A lot of people wish they were (playing) there. If you're not, the next-best thing is to play them and try to get a 'W'."
"We aren't going to back down by any means," Brown said.
"There are some things strategically that we'll have to do to compete in that game. That's our approach."
Cincinnati freshman guard Lance Stephenson, called one of the top recruits in the program's history, leads the Bearcats in scorin at 13.1 ppg.
"Certainly I know the guys know the name Stephenson," Brown said. "He's been pretty impressive."