Hot shooting carries Iowa State past Cincinnati, 80-76

The Bearcats returned home to Fifth Third Arena Wednesday night to take on the Big 12's last place Oklahoma State Cowboys.

Coming off a 76-74 road win over UCF, Wes Miller's team was looking for consecutive Big 12 wins for the first time this season. 

Cincinnati has struggled with turnovers at times this season.

The Bearcats had turnovers on their first two possessions but responded with an 8-0 run to take an early 10-4 lead.

Dan Skillings and Simas Lukosius both scored four points to key the run.

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

Day Day Thomas extended the UC lead to 13-6 with a 3-pointer at the 14:36 mark of the first half.

The Cowboys answered with a 9-3 run over the next three minutes to cut the deficit to one, 16-15, at the under 12 media timeout.

OSU freshman big man Brandon Garrison scored eight points on 4-of-5 shooting to prevent the game from getting out of hand early. He would finish with 10 first half points.

Six consecutive makes from the field gave OSU a 21-18 lead, following a Garrison dunk with 9:22 remaining in the half. 

Cincinnati trailed 25-18 at the under eight media timeout after missing five straight from the field during a two minute 58 second scoring drought. 

John Newman ended the scoring drought at the 7:18 mark with a tough finish at the rim to cut the OSU lead to five, 25-20. 

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

That basket by Newman would be the beginning of a 7-0 run as Skillings followed Newman's finish with a three and Jizzle James converted at the rim to tie the score at 25 with 4:05 left in the opening half.

With Cincinnati gaining momentum as the half winded down, Oklahoma State answered with an 8-0 run over the next 1:11 to give the Cowboys an eight point advantage at the final media stop of the half. 

OSU scored 10 points off nine UC turnovers and led 37-32 at the half.

The first half ended with Oklahoma State making five of their final seven shot attempts and finishing 59 percent of their field.

The second half began with Cincinnati falling behind 41-34 with at the 17:34 mark.

Following John Newman's basket to cut the lead to five, Day Day Thomas' dunk in transition over a trailing Oklahoma State defender brought the Cincinnati faithful to their feet and gave the Cats a much needed energy that was lacking in the first half. 

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

Josh Reed cut the Oklahoma State lead to one, 45-44, on a goal tend call, but a scoring drought following the call allowed Oklahoma State to extend their lead back to four, 48-44.

Trailing 50-46, Jizzle James would take over the next 1:40.

James scored six points during an 8-0 run and found Aziz Bandaogo for a lob and finish on the other two points. 

"I thought he was great," Wes Miller told reporters following the game. "Everybody can see it. That was exciting. That was fun."

"He has the ability to do things with the ball in his hands that other than Simas (Lukosius), nobody else can do consistently. He makes others better."

The 8-0 run gave Cincinnati a 54-50 lead with 9:06 remaining in the game. 

Javon Small scored on the next two OSU possessions to quickly erase the four point UC lead.

With 5:52 remaining in the game, Cincinnati was clinging to a 59-56 lead after making five of their previous seven shot attempts. 

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

Jamille Reynolds extended the UC lead to 65-61 with 4:41 left in the game. 

The Cowboys cut the lead to two on their next offensive possession.

With the Bearcats leading by two, Aziz Bandaogo fouled Jamyron Keller at the top of the key on a three point attempt with 3:42 left to play. 

Keller converted all three attempts to give OSU a one point lead, 66-65.

Bandaogo redeemed himself at the other end, tipping a Lukosius miss up and in while also being fouled. The big man knocked down the free throw to give the Cats a two point lead with 3:20 left on the clock. 

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

Oklahoma State's Eric Dailey and John-Michael Wright answered with three's on the next two Oklahoma State possessions as Oklahoma State put together an 8-0 run over 1:32 to give the Cowboys a six point lead with 1:29 remaining. 

Dan Skillings cut the OSU lead to one, 74-73, with 29 seconds left to play but the Cowboys went 6-of-6 from the free throw line down the stretch to close the game out.

Final Score: Oklahoma State 80 Cincinnati 76

"I've been a head coach at Oklahoma State, this is my seventh year and I can't tell you how many games just like that we've been in," Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton told reporters following the game. 

"We've been on the other side so we understand what the other locker room feels like but I'm sure proud of our kids, the fight they showed multiple times in the game when Cincinnati made runs twice in the first half and then late when we lost the lead."

Key Stats and Notes:

Small steals the show

 Javon Small led all scorers with 19 points and was one-of-six OSU players to finish with nine or more points. Jamyron Keller (15 pts), Brandon Garrison (14 pts), Quion Williams (12 pts, 8 rbs, 8 ast), and John-Michael Wright (11 pts) all finished in double figures. Oklahoma State attacked the rim and finished with 40 points in the paint. 

Point guard play

Both Jizzle James and Day Day Thomas finished with 10 points, each. Jizzle continues to get better and it is clear what he is capable of but he still needs to improve defensively to see consistent minutes in late game situations. The freshman was really good offensively but finished -11 for the game. Thomas was 3-for-9 from the field but tied for highest on the team with a +7. In a game where Cincinnati was struggling to get stops, Miller rolled with the better defensive option. 



Hot Shooting

Both teams shot the ball well from the field. Cincinnati finished 30-of-60 from the field (50 percent), while the Pokes finished 30-of-54 (55.6 percent). Oklahoma State entered the game making just 68 percent of their free throws and 34.7 percent of their 3-point attempts. OSU made 13-of-14 free throws and 7-of-17 three-point attempts. The Bearcats in particular struggled with transition defense and covering high ball screens, leading to open three's or good looks at the rim.



Turnovers and transition

 UC got 18 points in transition off of fast breaks, compared to six points for Oklahoma State, but the Cowboys were able to turn 14 Cincinnati turnovers in to 17 points off of those turnovers. In a league where every possession matters, you can't continue to give the opposition points off unforced errors.

Simas continues to lead

Lukosius led the team in scoring with 17 points and has now scored twelve or more points in five of the last six games. Lukosius finished 7-of-14 from the field and knocked down 3-of-4 three-point attempts. Dan Skillings was just shy of a double-double (9 points, 10 rbs) in his second consecutive start. 

Final Thoughts

Oklahoma State has several young, talented players that are going to lead coach Mike Boynton to a lot of wins over the next few years. This was a team that had not won a game on the road in seven tries but have continued to improve and get better each game out. While Oklahoma State is probably not as bad as their record may indicate, this was still a game that Cincinnati had to win to keep their tournament hopes alive and they came up short once again at home.

It is somewhat perplexing why this team continues to struggle at home. The loss drops Wes Miller's team to 2-5 at home with tough road games coming up Saturday at TCU and Tuesday at Houston. With five games left, this team is going to have to string together some wins are they are going to be forced to make a deep Big 12 tournament run to end the streak of seasons without an NCAA Tournament appearance. 



Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published