Cincinnati Basketball Tournament: Eastern Washington Preview

The Cincinnati Basketball Tournament, presented by Allegiant Air, resumes Sunday at noon with Eastern Washington visiting Fifth Third Arena.

(Photo Credit: University of Cincinnati Athletics)

The Bearcats enter the noon tip off 2-0 after victories over UIC (69-58) and Detroit Mercy (93-61). 

Eastern Washington, who won the Big Sky conference last season, are 0-2 with losses to Utah (101-66) and Ole Miss (75-64).

Everything you need to know:

  • Cincinnati's offense made 13 three-pointers in the first half against Detroit. It was the second half in Miller's tenure with 60 or more points (Arizona, 63 in second half, in Maui last season).
  • Six Bearcats scored in double-figures, led by CJ Fredrick's 14 in his first start. Twelve of UC's first 14 buckets were assisted. 
  • Josh Reed had career-highs of 12 rebounds and 25 minutes. Jizzle James also added 13 points and three assists off the bench. UC's bench has outscored the opposing bench 73-11 through two games.
  • None of UC's starters against Detroit Mercy played more than 21 minutes. Dan Skillings Jr. leads the team in playing time (48:32) despite not starting either game.
  • Skillings had eight rebounds over each of the last two games. His only time with that many or more as a freshman last year came in a 14-point, 13-rebound double-double against Bryant.
  • John Newman III has looked the part in his first two games after playing only 11 minutes of the 2022-23 season. He is 3-for-6 from deep so far, which is a major boost to this Cincinnati offense.
  • The 52-26 rebounding margin marked UC's highest since Nov. 2019 against Alabama A&M.
  • Five of UC's top-nine games for made three-pointers have come in the Wes Miller tenure. The Bearcats made 16 against Detroit Mercy after going 5 for 25 in game 1.
  • The Bearcats' 23 assists marked the 12th time over that span that they had 20 or more as well.
  • Simas Lukosius had five assists and no turnovers off the bench. The 6-foot-8 junior was Butler's leader in assists last season with 92.
  • UC is 30-9 at home and 31-7 when holding its opponent under 69 points in the Miller era. Detroit Mercy marked the second time in the last four home games it scored 93 or more (97 against SMU on Senior Day).
  • UC is seeking its third-straight 3-0 start under Miller. It had a 5-0 mark in 2021-22, making Miller the first Bearcats coach to start his tenure with such a win streak, after dismantling No. 14 Illinois by 20 points.

Eastern Washington Notes and Stats:

The defending Big Sky champions led the Big Sky in scoring average (77.0), assists (15.4), FG% (49.1; 9th nationally), FG% against (42) and rebounding (36.2) last season.

- The Eagles return starters Ethan Price and Casey Jones, in addition to key reserves Cedric Coward, Dane Erikstrup and Ellis Magnuson from last season's team that advanced to the second round of the NIT.

- 6'10 forward Ethan Price was Big Sky freshman of year in 21-22 and earned Big Sky Honorable Mention last season. Through 2 games, Price is averaging 5.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg.

- 6'6 junior forward Cedric Coward is leading the Eagles in scoring through the first two games at 12.5 ppg, 5 rpg and is 46% from the field. Coward recorded a triple double last December after making the jump from D-III to DI. 

- 6'11 junior forward Dane Erikstrup is also averaging 12.5 ppg after scoring 13 against Utah and 12 against Ole Miss. He is a threat to score from all areas of the floor and was a part of the Danish National Team at the 2025 FIBA Eurobasket Pre Qualifiers.

- 6'6 redshirt freshman forward LeJuan Watts had a double double against Utah (15 pts, 10 rbs) , and is averaging 10.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg through the first two games. 

- 6'6 Junior forward Casey Jones was the teams' leading rebounder last season at 5.7 per game, adding 7.6 points on 49% shooting. He's averaging 6.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg through the first two games.

- 6'7 senior guard Jake Kyman originally committed to UCLA but transferred to Eastern Washington this season from Wyoming. He is averaging 6 ppg, 3.5 rpg.

- This is the first all time meeting between the two programs. 

Final Thoughts:

Cincinnati enters as a 12.5 point favorite. 

Eastern Washington led Ole Miss 51-50 midway through the second half, before eventually falling behind by 10+ over the final seven minutes. Cincinnati's depth and athleticism should prove to be too much for the Eagles and I expect Cincinnati to pull away early and coast throughout the second half. Wes Miller was not happy with his team's second half performance against Detroit Mercy so I would be a little surprised if they didn't come out with a lot of energy and intensity. 

Noon tip offs on a Sunday are never fun (flashbacks to East Carolina) but the game being inside Fifth Third Arena should provide an early boost for the Bearcats.

Prediction: Cincinnati 74 Eastern Washington 55

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