The last time the Lipscomb men’s basketball team took the court, it was for the school’s NCAA tournament debut against powerhouse North Carolina.
Center Ahsan Asadullah was forced to watch that game on the bench while rehabbing an ACL injury.
But on Tuesday night, the 6-foot-9 big man made his presence felt by leading the Bisons with 26 points in a 97-53 drubbing of Division-III Sewanee at Allen Arena.
The Tigers more closely resembled a strong high school squad than a college team and were simply outmatched from the beginning, despite Lipscomb not being at its best.
“It definitely helped,” Asadullah said of playing a weaker opponent. “We got to run some of our sets and stuff instead of [just] practicing against each other. [But we] knew it wasn’t going to be easy even though [they] were a D-III school.”
Asadullah admirably filled in for Rob Marberry, who missed the game due to a hand injury. It’s unclear when the senior forward will be back in action, which could pose a problem in next Thursday’s Battle of the Boulevard against rival Belmont.
“He’ll probably be back soon – he’s been practicing,” Lipscomb coach Casey Alexander said of Marberry. “We know we need him for us to be as good as we can be.”
Asadullah missed the entirety of the 2017-18 season after tearing his ACL last fall, and he said he felt some nerves during warmups. But you wouldn’t have known that by watching his nearly-flawless performance.
“A couple of us were a little nervous,” Asadullah said. “I know I was a little nervous. My first shot got blocked, [but] then I had to lock in and play even harder.”
Following that block, Asadullah made his next 11 shots to finish 11-of-12 from the field. The 277-pounder made for an intimating presence in the low post and looked like a natural with his smooth moves to the bucket.
“What I was most pleased with was that he played with a lot of poise [and was] under control,” Alexander said. “He never really rushed things [and] never really forced things.”
If Asadullah can contribute consistently alongside Marberry and Eli Pepper, it’s not a stretch to think that Lipscomb may have one of the best frontcourts in the mid-major ranks.
Moran returns to lineup
Another bright spot was the return of guard Nathan Moran, who has been out since March 2017 due to multiple hip surgeries. He chipped in six points after entering the game at the 16:41 mark of the first half to a chorus of cheers.
“He deserves it,” Alexander said. “He’s worked really hard to get himself back from some pretty tough injures. He’ll be a real big difference maker throughout the season.”
Second set of Tigers await
Lipscomb will quickly turn its attention to Tennessee State for Homecoming on Saturday. The Bisons emerged with a 95-86 victory in overtime last year, although TSU will be a completely different team under new head coach Brian Collins.
“New coach and no videos, so we’ll be guessing,” Alexander said. “But they’re talented, so I expect it to be a good game.”
With Asadullah and company in tow, the Bisons should be just fine this weekend.
Photo courtesy of Lipscomb Athletics