By Ryan Roberts
Fort Worth, TX - Coming in to the final American Athletic Conference Tournament, the Bearcats were riding a high off a beat down of SMU in the regular season finale. Standing in the way in the quarter finals was the Temple Owls, who the Bearcats beat on February 22nd in an 88-83 thriller. In that game, Temple's Damian Dunn scored a game high 34 points. If the Bearcats were going to advance to the conference semi finals for a re match with #1 Houston, Cincinnati was going to have to find a way to stop Dunn.
Early on, it looked like Dunn was going to put up another big game. In Temple's first two possessions Dunn scored 5 points on 2 field goal attempts and the Bearcats found themselves down 5-0 with 18:16 left in the first half. Cincinnati was able to right the ship and answer with a 6-0 run as Vik Lahkin scored 4 straight to give UC a 6-5 lead with 16:20 left in the first half.
Temple responded by putting an 11-0 run on the Bearcats over the next 3:05, forcing Wes Miller to call a timeout as Temple was shooting 83% from the field, including 4 of 5 from 3.
Whatever was said in the timeout, worked.
Freshman Dan Skillings Jr entered the game out of the timeout and proceeded to put up a personal 7-0 run over the next 2:35. Landers Nolley followed that with 5 straight to tie the game at 18 with 9:33 left and after a brief 20-18 lead by Temple, Cincinnati closed the half on a 19-9 run to take a 37-27 advantage in to the locker room at halftime.
Skillings Jr led the Bearcats with 11 first half points, while Dunn scored 9 to pace Temple. Cincinnati finished the half 15 of 34 from the field, with Temple finishing 10-32 after the hot start.
Mika Adams-Woods got the scoring started in the second half with a 3 to extend the Bearcat lead to 40-27 just 32 seconds in to the second half. Neither team scored over the next 3 minutes and Cincinnati didn't score their next field goal until Landers Nolley hit a turn around jumper to extend the lead to 42-27.
Temple would get as close as 54-42 with 8:26 remaining in the game but Nolley and Skillings hit back to back threes over the next 29 seconds to extend the lead back to 18 and the rout was on.
UC finished the final 8:26 on a 30-12 run to pick up an 84-54 win over the Owls and improve to 21-11 on the season.
Landers Nolley scored 14 of his game high 22 points in the second half but was out done by Mika Adams-Woods as he scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half. Freshman Dan Skillings recorded a season high 20 points in the win. After struggling with injuries, Vik Lahkin had a career day as he tied the AAC tournament block record with 7.
For the game, Cincinnati shot 32 of 72 from the field for 44% and finished 11-28 from beyond the arc for 39%.
Temple finished 20 of 61 from the field for 33% and made just 6 of their 24 three point attempts.
Damian Dunn led the Owls with 12 points but was held to just 2 of 14 shooting for 7 points over the final 38 minutes of the game. In his post game press conference, UC head coach Wes Miller credited Landers Nolley's effort for the reason Dunn struggled.
Other Key Stats:
- Cincinnati dominated Temple inside with 40 points in the paint and 11 blocks.
- UC had 18 second chance points and out rebounded Temple 42-20.
- Bearcats forced 15 Temple turnovers and limited themselves to just 7
#4 seed Cincinnati v #1 seed Houston in the AAC Conference Semi Finals at 3:00 on Saturday 3/11