Big 12 Tournament: Cincinnati v Kansas Preview

Cincinnati made their Big 12 Conference Tournament debut last night with a 90-85 come from behind victory over the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Simas Lukosius scored 26 second half points on his way to a game high 31 points to help erase a 16-point second half deficit.

Day Day Thomas also scored a career high with 29 points.

The duo combined to make 14-of-22 three-pointers.

The Bearcats set a Big 12 Tournament record with 16 made 3-pointers.

Wes Miller and his team will now turn their attention to the Kansas Jayhawks for a 9:30 pm tip off inside T-Mobile Center.

"Kansas is Kansas and they've been at the top of college basketball for as long as I've been alive," Wes Miller told media following the win over West Virginia.

Since the league was started in 1996, the Jayhawks have won or shared 21 regular season conference championships and 12 conference tournament championships.

"What they've done in this league, as long as I've been alive, is incredible and (Coach Bill Self) has another great team that's going to compete to win a national championship."

Kansas defeated Cincinnati in Lawrence in an ESPN Big Monday match up, 74-69, on January 22nd.

In that game, freshman Johnny Furphy led all scorers with 23 points, while also pulling down 11 rebounds. 

Dan Skillings led Cincinnati with 16 points and Aziz Bandaogo grabbed 11 rebounds. 

The second match up between these two will have a different look to it as Kansas will be without Big 12 Newcomer of the year, Hunter Dickinson, as well All Big 12 First Team forward Kevin McCullar.

McCullar had five rebounds and five assists to go with 20 points in Kansas' 74-69 win over the Bearcats. Dickinson struggled with foul trouble and was held scoreless in the second half, but still finished with 10 points, six rebounds. 

Wes Miller discussed the dynamic of facing Kansas without those two.

" We understand who we're playing against. We have a ton of respect for that. We're playing them here in Kansas City. "

"I think it's just an opportunity for our group and I think the one thing , we have a lot of respect for Kansas regardless of who can or can't play."

After ten games that resulted in a five point margin or less, this Cincinnati team is battle tested and ready for anything that is thrown at them.

"I think we believe we can play with anybody," Said Miller. "I think we've kind of proven that to ourselves this year."

Keys to a Bearcats' win:

-UC owned the glass in the first match up, out-rebounding the Jayhawks 40-29. With Kansas not having their two leading rebounders available, the Bearcats have to take advantage of second chance opportunities. 

- Kansas jumped out to a 19-7 lead in Lawrence, primarily because the Bearcats struggled with turnovers. For the game, Kansas scored 32 points in the paint because of their ability to get in transition and also turned 16 UC turnovers in to 15 points. Limiting turnovers and defense in transition should be primary focuses.

- Kansas lacked depth prior to the McCullar and Dickinson injuries. Being aggressive and not settling for jump shots will have to be a key. Cincinnati finished 3-of-18 from three in the first meeting, 0-for-8 in the second half. Attacking the rim and applying pressure to the KU defense could put them in uncomfortable situations as Self tries to manage his depth.

Final Thoughts:

It is simple for the Bearcats....don't commit silly turnovers and continue to rebound like we have seen this team do all year, and they should be fine. This isn't the same team that Cincinnati faced in Lawrence and despite playing in Kansas City, the Jayhawks won't experience the same home-court advantage that they took advantage of back in January.

It won't be easy, but this is a game that UC should win if Skillings, Lukosius, and Thomas continue to play at the level we saw last night. With Kansas likely utilizing a small ball lineup from a lack of post depth, the wings and guards will have to play well at both ends for Wes Miller's team. KJ Adams and Dejuan Harris will be the key defensive assignments for John Newman and Day Day Thomas. 


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