By Ryan Roberts
Coming in to Wednesday night's game against Tulsa, the Bearcats had just put together one of their best performances of the year on the road against the #3 team in the country. Despite that performance, Cincinnati came up just short in a 75-69 loss at Houston. Landers Nolley scored 24 points in the loss and the Bearcats showed consistency for 33 minutes that gave fans an optimistic outlook on the rest of the season.
Up Next was a home tilt against Tulsa, the worst team in the American Athletic Conference to date. At 1-8 in conference play and 5-15 overall, the Bearcats had a favorable match up off a tough loss.
The game started with the Bearcats jumping out to a 6-2 lead but they would be ice cold after that. A 3 minute scoring drought allowed Tulsa to take an 8-6 lead and the slow start continued in to the under 12 media timeout as Wes Miller's squad missed 9 of 11 shots and were 0 for 6 from 3 in the game's first 9 minutes. Tulsa wasn't much better during the same stretch, shooting 4 for 14.
A Landers Nolley jumper with 9:14 left jump started a 6-0 run over the next 1:42 to give Cincinnati some offensive rhythm and a 19-14 lead with 7:32 left in the first half. The momentum continued out of the timeout with Nolley hitting a 3 and Viktor Lahkin throwing down a put back dunk to get the crowd in to the game. After a slow start of trading missed shots, the Bearcats all of a sudden led by 10 and seemed to be in control. By the final media stop with 3:58 remaining in the first half, Cincinnati had a 29-14 lead with freshman Dan Skillings Jr and Landers Nolley leading the way with 7 points each.
Jeremiah Davenport got going down the stretch with 7 of his 11 first half points in the final two minutes of the half to give Cincinnati a 36-18 halftime lead. Tulsa's finished the half 1 for 13 during the Bearcats' hot shooting streak to close the half.
Tulsa started the second half making their first 3 shots but unlike the start of the first half, Cincinnati matched them shot for shot to extend their lead to 20 within the first two minutes. Tulsa's hot shooting continued, making 6 of their next 7 shots, but Cincinnati still held a 54-37 advantage with 12:31 remaining in the game.
The Cats eventually cooled off with a 1 for 7 stretch over the next 2 minutes but still maintained a 56-39 lead at the 10:10 under 12 media timeout. Landers Nolley's three point play and Mika Adams Woods three from the wing extended Cincinnati's lead back out to 20.
Tulsa was able to close the gap to 64-50 with 6 minutes remaining but the Bearcats answered again with an 11-2 run over the next 2:40 to push the lead out to 75-52. Jeremiah Davenport's 6 straight points keyed the run.
Walk on CJ Anthony entered the game for UC with 2:20 remaining and the Cats would coast the rest of the way to a convincing 81-55 victory.
Jeremiah Davenport led five double figure scorers for Cincinnati with 20 points off the bench. Landers Nolley had a double double with 13 points, 13 rebounds followed by David Dejulius with 11 points, 9 assists. Mika Adams-Woods and Viktor Lahkin both scored 10 with Lahkin pulling down 8 rebounds.
Tulsa was paced by Sam Griffin with 15 points and Anthony Pritchard with 12 points. Bryant Selebangue was just shy of a double double with 8 points, 15 rebounds.
- The Bearcats finished 46% from the field for the game.
- Outrebounded Tulsa 44-32
- Forced 12 Tulsa turnovers while only committing 6 turnovers. 17 points off Tulsa's turnovers
- 35 points off the bench for UC, compared to 12 for Tulsa
- Cincinnati led for 33 minutes of the game
Cincinnati has the pieces to be a really good team down the stretch. When Jeremiah Davenport plays at the level that he did tonight along with Landers Nolley, the Cats have one of the best wing duo's in the league. The key has always been consistency at the point guard position. This team is going to go as far as Dave Dejulius and Mike Adams-Woods take them. Dejulius has distributed the ball at a high level over the past 5 games and it should come as no surprise that those are 5 of the 7 best games that Cincinnati has played this year.
With the win, CIncinnati improves to 15-8 (6-4 AAC) with UCF up next on Saturday at noon at Fifth Third Arena.