McCollum, Oweh lead Oklahoma past Cincinnati, 69-65

The Bearcats returned to action Saturday afternoon for a 1 pm tip off against the 15th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners.

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

Following an 81-77 overtime win over 19th-ranked TCU, Wes Miller mentioned how important it was for his team to finally win a close game and re-gain their confidence.

"It's important when you've lost a couple close games that you felt you had real chances to win, it's important to win one. You gotta learn how to win in one and two possession games which it seems like this whole dang league is. That should give our team some confidence." Said Miller following the win over TCU.

The Cincinnati defense was suffocating through the first four minutes of action.

The Sooners began the game 0-for-5 from the field and Cincinnati had three blocks, as everything at the rim was contested. UC would finish with seven blocks for the game.

Despite the stellar defense, UC wasn't able to take advantage of the slow Oklahoma start.


(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

At the first media stop, UC led 4-0 on baskets by Simas Lukosius and Vik Lakhin. Lukosius would finish the first half with 13 points on 4-of-9 shooting (3-of-7 3FG).

Jizzle James' jumper with 13:43 remaining in the half gave Cincinnati a 9-4 lead. 

The Bearcats would make just one of their next 13 shot attempts as Oklahoma used a 10-2 run to silence the Cincinnati faithful with a 14-11 advantage at the 7:51 mark of the first half. 

Day Day Thomas' jumper in the lane with 6:45 remaining in the half would end a 5 minute 3 second scoring drought by UC and spark a 9-2 run as UC turned a 14-11 deficit in to a 20-16 lead following a Lukosius 3 and Reynolds dunk. 

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

Cincinnati extended their lead to 26-23 following an Aziz Bandaogo dunk off an assist from Jizzle James with 3:11 remaining in the half.

The Sooners outscored UC 8-5 over the final 3 minutes as the two teams were tied 31-31 at the half. Jalon Moore's driving layup with :42 seconds left in the half gave Oklahoma a one-point lead.

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

Oklahoma's ability to get to the line and convert all nine of their free throw attempts were the biggest difference in the first half as Cincinnati struggled from the field shooting 33 percent from two, 23 percent from three, and 60 percent (6-10) from the free throw line. 

Cincinnati scored the first three points of the second half to take a brief 34-31 lead.

Oweh Otega would respond for Oklahoma with 8 of the next 10 points as the Sooners used a 10-2 run to give them a five point advantage, 41-36, at the under 16 media stop. 

Following a missed free throw by Le'Tre Darthard, Sam Godwin grabbed an offensive rebound and found Javian McCollum for an open shot in the lane to extend Oklahoma's lead to 47-41 with 12:36 remaining in the game.

Jizzle James responded with a three at the other end but Oklahoma came right back with a three of their own by Le'Tre Darthard to push the lead back to six. 

Cincinnati was struggling to defend, as well as rebound as Oklahoma held a 30-23 rebounding advantage. 

Oklahoma extended their lead to 55-46 with 9:11 remaining in the game. The Sooners made 5-of-7 field goal attempts from the 12:40 mark to the 9:11 mark to turn a halftime tie in to a nine-point advantage. 

Over the next 3:15, the Bearcats would come alive and use a 7-2 run to cut the OU lead to four, 57-53, with 5:56 left to play. Day-Day Thomas' driving finish in the lane brought energy back in to Fifth Third Arena. 

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

Trailing 61-58 following a John Newman three with 4:07 left, the Bearcats had three opportunities to score and couldn't convert on any of them.

Lukosius missed the front end of the one-and-one and after getting two offensive rebounds, both Lakhin and Luksoius missed three-point attempts. 

John Hugley scored at the other end for Oklahoma, Cincinnati turned the ball over on their next possession, and Otega Oweh had a put- back dunk to end any hope of a comeback.

Cincinnati missed four consecutive field goal attempts and had not scored a field goal in over three minutes as Oklahoma led 65-58 with 1:27 remaining in the game. 

The Bearcats weren't ready to give in just yet. 

Following four free-throws by John Newman and Josh Reed, UC trailed by 3, 65-62 with :14 seconds left on the clock.

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

Simas Lukosius went to the line for two free throws after being fouled,but was only able to convert on one-of- two. 

Jalon Moore grabbed the rebound and converted two free throws at the other end as the Sooners knocked the Bearcats off by a final score of 69-65.




Key Stats and Notes:

Cincinnati's inability to get rebounds in crucial moments were the biggest disappointment of the game. Oklahoma out-rebounded UC by a final margin of 7, 41-34. Thirteen of those were on the offensive glass and converted in to 17 second chance points. 



- UC was able to force 10 Oklahoma turnovers but only converted those in to five points. Oklahoma was able to turn eight Cincinnati turnovers in to 10 points. In games where they are almost certainly going to be close, you have to be able to take advantage of extra opportunities. 

- Free throws were the biggest difference. Oklahoma made 16-of-18 while Cincinnati made just 14-of-22. You can't miss eight free throws in close games and expect to come out on top. UC is now shooting 66 percent (40-60) from the free throw line over the past four Big 12 games.

- Only two Bearcats finished in double figures in the loss. Simas Lukosius scored 17 points on 4-of-12 shooting (3-5 3FG) but was limited to just four second half points. John Newman scored 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting (2-4 3FG) with all 14 coming in the second half. 



- UC struggled with front court consistency today. After scoring 50 points in the paint against TCU, the Bearcats were limited to 28 points in the paint with Jamille Reynolds scoring six points and both Lakhin and Bandaogo scoring five, each. Lakhin pulled down seven rebounds to lead the trio.

- Defensively, Cincinnati actually did a solid job against a pretty good Oklahoma offense. Oklahoma entered the game with the 23rd best field goal percentage (48.9 percent) but were limited to 24-of-58 from the field for 41.4 percent for the game. 

- Oklahoma guards Javian McCollum (16 points) and Otega Oweh (14 points) led the Sooners with Cleveland native John Hugley IV also reaching double figures with 11 points. Jalon Moore was one point shy of a double-double, contributing nine points to go with ten rebounds. 

Final Thoughts:

Another tough loss for Cincinnati where they proved that they were good enough to win but couldn't make plays when they needed them the most. The lack of shooting has been a problem in the losses and was again a problem today. Credit Oklahoma (12th-best three-point field goal defense in the country -27.8 percent) but making just 7-of-26 three-pointers combined with poor free throw shooting has to improve for Cincinnati to have consistent success against the top teams in this league.

The frustrating part for most, I'm sure, is that Cincinnati is getting good looks but simply aren't knocking them down. At some point, those shots are going to start to fall. This roster and team are good enough to win in this league at a consistent rate.

With 3rd-ranked Kansas coming up in 48 hours, Wes and his team will have to turn the page quickly.



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