Bearcats knock off 12th ranked BYU, 71-60

The Bearcats traveled to Provo, UT on Saturday night to take on the 12th ranked BYU Cougars.

Mark Pope's squad was picked to finish 13th in the league in the preseason rankings but entered Saturday night's contest with a 12-1 record and an offense that ranked first nationally in assists per game (22.5) and assist-to-turnover ratio, as well as 3-pointers per game (12.8). 

The offensive firepower was on display early as BYU jumped out to a 13-5 lead with just under 11 minutes left in the first half.

(Photo: Rick Bowmer Associated Press)

Following two Simas Lukosius free throws to tie the score at 5 with 17:02 on the clock, Trevin Knell knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to key an 8-0 run. 

Knell would finish the half with 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting from 3-point range.

Cincinnati struggled the entire first half offensively, finishing with 13 turnovers, while also being out-rebounded 20-18.

Despite the turnover issues, Jizzle James was able to give the Bearcats a 19-18 lead with 5:17 remaining in the first half.

The wheels would fall off the Bearcat train over the next 2:21, however, as BYU put together an 11-0 run. Five Cincinnati turnovers during the run led to three consecutive made 3-pointers by Trevin Knell, Dallin Hall, and Noah Watterman.

BYU entered Saturday's contest 1st in 3-point makes, attempts, percentage defense, scoring, scoring margin, and rebound margin.

The Cougars led 31-24 at the half, finishing 11-of-30 from the field and 7 of 22 from 3-point range, while UC made just 7-of-25 field goal attempts. Cincinnati's 8-of-9 free throw showing was the one thing that kept the game from getting too out of hand. Viktor Lakhin's 6 first half points led the Bearcats.

The defensive struggles on the perimeter continued to start the second half as Trevin Knell knocked down his first two attempts of the half to push the lead out to 9, 37-28, with 18:44 left in the half.

The sharp shooter would finish the game 9-of-14 from 3 for a game-high 27 points.

Cincinnati would slowly chip away at the lead.

Aziz Bandaogo knocked down a 3 from the top of the key to cut the lead to 37-31 and the Cats would out-score BYU 14-6 over the next 4:14 to cut the BYU lead to 1, 43-42, with 14:12 left. 

Dan Skillings scored 5 of his 10 points during the run to spark some life in to the UC offense.

Knell hit two more three-pointers on the next two BYU possessions to extend their lead to 49-44, but his 3-pointer with 12:55 remaining would be his last points of the game. 

Cincinnati responded with a 13-2 run over the next 5:33 as the defense held BYU without a field goal for 4:41 to take a 57-51 lead with 7:24 left to play. 

During the post game, Wes Miller credited the Bearcats' defensive rebounding as a reason for his team making their run and preventing BYU from getting second chance opportunities.

Aziz Bandaogo finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and had a major impact in UC out-rebounding the Cougars 27-16 in the second half and owning a 20-6 paint scoring advantage.

BYU was able to cut the deficit to 4, 57-53, at the 6:22 mark but the Bearcats answered with a 6-0 run over the next 3 minutes to extend the lead to 10, following a Bandaogo dunk.

Viktor Lakhin drained a three-pointer to push the lead out to 11 with 2:51 remaining and that would be the final margin of victory.

Cincinnati closed out their scoring with two Day Day Thomas free throws and walked off the Marriott Center court with a 71-60 win over the number 12 team in the country.

Key Stats and Thoughts:

- Viktor Lakhin led the Cats with 17 points, 7 rebounds. He finished with 11 points in the second half to help lead the comeback. Wes Miller praised his leadership and maturity throughout the game with the way he handled a tough enviornment and not letting no calls get to him.

- Jizzle James shined again in a big time atmosphere. The true freshman scored all 10 of his points in the second half, but more importantly, also finished with zero turnovers. On a night where Day Day Thomas had 7 turnovers and 2 points, it was important for James to play well and bring stability to the point guard position. His jumper with 10:54 remaining gave UC a 52-51 lead and 1:24 later he knocked down a 3-pointer to push the lead out to 5, 56-51. UC never looked back from there.

- Dan Skillings' finished with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, with 7 of those points coming in the second half. His driving lay up with 12:05 left cut the BYU lead to 2. Skillings got a defensive rebound on the next BYU possession which allowed Jizzle James to convert an and one at the other end to cut the BYU lead to 1 with 11:36 left.

- The Bearcats out-rebounded BYU 45-36 and forced the Cougars in to 18 turnovers. The 19 turnovers by the Bearcats are a concern but out-scoring BYU 30-12 in the paint solidifies just how dominant UC was around the rim.

- Defensively, UC held BYU 30 points below their season average. The Cougars came in averaging the 4th most points per game in the country and the Bearcats were able to contest and make things difficult for the best offense that they had seen to date, on their home court. BYU had out-scored opponents by an average 28.8 points per game at home and had a 10 game home winning streak snapped. 

- Jaxson Robinson came in to this game as BYU's leading scorer, averaging 16 points per game off the bench. He was limited to 5 points on 2-of-7 shooting in 27 minutes. BYU as a team only scored 10 points off the bench. 

- Trevin Knell was 9-of-14 from 3, the rest of the team finished 4-of-32.

- Cincinnati shot 28 percent from the field in the first half but finished the game at 43 percent. The Bearcats made 16-of-29 field goal attempts in the second half and 4-of-9 3-point attempts. 


While this is just one win and one game, this was a massive win for Wes Miller and his team. It is arguably the biggest win under Miller and is a huge confidence booster with what awaits UC over the next few weeks in Big 12 play. There needs to be more consistency but this team has the potential to be really good once they figure out how to put an entire game together. 

Up Next:

Tuesday 1/9 v Texas (Fifth Third Arena)



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