Cincinnati drops another close one in 74-71 overtime loss at Oklahoma


Wes Miller's team led for nearly 39 minutes but it wasn't enough as Cincinnati dropped to 17-13 and 6-11 in the Big 12 with a 74-71 overtime loss to Oklahoma (20-10, 8-9).

(Photo Credit: Alonso Adams/USA Today)

The Sooners made 28-of-34 free throws and outscored UC 21-10 in second chance points. The Bearcats won the rebounding battle, 35-32, pulling down 13 offensive rebounds, but were not able to capitalize on the extra opportunities.

After making 52 percent of their field goal attempts in the first half, UC was limited to 34 percent in the second half.

Cincinnati entered Tuesday night's game in Norman, Oklahoma desperate for a win to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive and will now almost certainly have to win the Big 12 tournament to hear their name called on Selection Sunday.

Le'Tre Darthard was inserted in to the starting lineup in place of the injured Javian McCollum and finished with a game high 18 points, converting 12-of-14 free throws.

Jizzle James led Cincinnati with 16 points, followed by John Newman with 15 points, Dan Skillings with 13 points, and Simas Lukosius with 10 points. 

Skillings would foul out with 1:56 remaining after pulling down nine rebounds.


Simas Lukosius got the scoring started with a three from the right wing as Cincinnati jumped out to a 14-3.

Lukosius scored eight of the Cats' first 14 points to key a 6-of-7 shooting start from the field. 

Oklahoma missed eight of their first 10 field goal attempts and trailed 18-5 with 11:43 remaining in the first half. 

Day Day Thomas ended a four minute, four second scoring drought following a mini 5-0 Oklahoma run to give Cincinnati a 20-10 lead at the 7:45 mark of the first half.

Five turnovers over a five minute span prevented Cincinnati from really putting the Sooners away, while they continued to struggle from the field. 

Those turnovers and missed opportunities would allow Oklahoma to cut the UC lead to 24-17 with 3:55 left to play in the opening half.


After four consecutive field goals and two Sam Godwin free throws, the UC lead was down to four points, 26-22 with 2:25 on the clock.

Oklahoma started the game 4-of-17 from the field but closed the half making 6-of-8 field goal attempts to take a 27-26 lead following a 13-2 run over 3:47. 

Day Day Thomas' lay up with :07 seconds left in the half put UC back in front, 28-27. but nine first half turnovers were a major concern heading in to the locker room and the single reason Cincinnati wasn't leading by double digits after the first 20 minutes.

The second half began with John Newman doing his best to try to take over the game.

Newman scored five of the first seven Cincinnati points, including a dunk in transition that also drew a foul on Rivaldo Soares. The three point play gave the Bearcats a 35-28 lead with 15:48 left in the second half.

Newman's would give the Bearcats a 40-30 lead on a three , after missing his first six attempts from deep.

Rivaldo Soares led Oklahoma with 10 first half points.

He answered Newman's three with one of his own, but great ball movement on the next Cincinnati possession led to a Jizzle James corner three to push the lead back to ten, 43-33, with 12:12 remaining.

A two minute scoring drought after two Dan Skillings free throws would allow Oklahoma to cut the UC lead to five, 45-40, at the 9:44 mark. Skillings would end the scoring drought with a lay up to push the lead back to seven.

Skillings defensive lapses would allow Oklahoma to cut the lead to three, 49-46, after fouling Le'Tre Darthard on consecutive three point attempts. Darthard made all six free throws.

With 7:29 on the clock, Cincinnati was clinging to a 51-46 lead.

Oklahoma would get 11 points off free throws over a two minute 53 second span with zero field goals to cut the Bearcats' lead to 53-51.

Maks Klanjscek converted three free throws after being fouled and buried a turn around jumper in the paint to tie things at 53 with 6:16 left.

Jizzle James would take over the game over the next 1:03.

The freshman made a tough lay up in traffic, then got a steal and threw down a one hand dunk, and made a jumper for a personal 6-0 run to give the Bearcats a 59-53 lead.with under five minutes to play.

John Newman extended with the Cincinnati lead to 63-57 with a three pointer from the left wing with 3:49 remaining.

With 1:52 left on the clock, Cincinnati led 64-61 and Oklahoma had scored 19 of their last 21 points from the free throw line.

After two Simas Lukosius free throws extended the lead to 66-61, Jalon Moore converted a three point play after being fouled by Jamille Reynolds with 1:10 on the clock.

John Newman missed a turn around jumper in the paint at the other end to give Oklahoma possession with :35 seconds remaining.

Jalon Moore missed on his initial drive to the basket with 19 seconds left but the ball went out off Bandaogo setting up a Darthard corner three on the out of bounds to give Oklahoma a one point lead.

"It's what scripts are made of," Oklahoma's Porter Moser told reporters following the game. "Your seniors playing huge games with ramifications and making big plays. To hit that big three out there, what a shot."

Simas Lukosius got a good look from the elbow but the ball bounced off the rim with 3.4 seconds left.

Fortunately for Cincinnati, Bandaogo was fouled while going for the rebound and converted one of two free throws to send the game to overtime with the score tied at 67.


Jizzle James gave UC a 72-71 lead in over time with 2:16 remaining but the Bearcats missed their final four field goal attempts and were held scoreless as Oklahoma completed the comeback on senior night in Norman.

"Oklahoma did a nice job fighting back into it tonight. I thought we played good basketball for a majority of the game. We couldn't get stops down the stretch for so many possessions in a row," Miller told reporters following the game. " Our foul discipline was a massive factor in that...we also couldn't get the loose ball and that type of thing. The frustrating part is you have chances to get defensive stops and win the game, but I'm not disappointed in our guys' fight. Fouling out played a factor, but that's college basketball and the Big 12. This one hurt, and there's no doubt about it, but we're gonna have to regroup and finish this regular season off at home on Saturday."

Final Thoughts:

This is going to be a tough one to get past. Cincinnati had multiple opportunities to put the game away but couldn't get stops down the stretch and made multiple mental errors fouling three point shooters. Oklahoma finished with 12 points off of UC fouling three point shooters.

We are now in March and miscues like that simply shouldn't happen multiple times like we witnessed tonight. With fouls piling up, Wes tried to mix in a zone but both possessions resulted in Oklahoma points so it was quickly scrapped. The Bearcats were active all game defensively and played pretty well at that end of the court, for the most part. 

Simas Lukosius played 38 minutes but scored just two points, missing all seven field goal attempts, over the final 35 minutes that he was on the floor. He had been really good in late game situations but shots simply didn't fall tonight for him when the Bearcats needed them to. 

This is the ninth game that UC has lost by five or fewer points. Cincinnati will have to find a way to close the season strong with a win over West Virginia on senior day and then turn their attention to the conference tournament. The loss almost guarantees that the Bearcats will play on Tuesday as one of the bottom four seeds in the tournament. This team has competed all season but haven't been able to find the right pieces to get over the hump in close games. 



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