Lukosius' big shot lifts Cincinnati past Texas Tech, 75-72
Following Cincinnati's 69-65 road loss at West Virginia, Wes Miller called his team's blown 10-point lead with six minutes remaining both a "meltdown" and "unacceptable."
"I'm extremely disappointed in how we finished the game. We have to be better at closing out, especially a 10-point lead with six minutes left. That's inexcusable and falls on the coach. I have to do better at preparing my team. We blew an opportunity on the road," Miller said during his post-game press conference."
UC looked to regroup Saturday night against a Texas Tech (16-4, 5-2) team that had not lost a home game this season (11-0) and trying to keep pace at the top of the Big 12 standings, following Houston's 78-65 loss to Kansas.
(Photo: Justin Rex/AP)
Aziz Bandaogo scored the first four points for the Bearcats as Cincinnati raced out to an early 13-4 lead.
Simas Lukosius capped off a 9-0 run over two minutes 20 seconds with a three pointer to force Texas Tech to call a timeout with 13:59 left in the first half.
Tech came out of the timeout and responded with an 11-2 run over the next two minutes 39 seconds. Kerwin Walton entered Saturday as one of the best three-point shooters in the league. He made two 3's to get the Tech offense going during the run.
A Jizzle James 3-pointer with 9:15 remaining in the half extended the UC lead to 20-16.
Three turnovers over the next 3:11 and five consecutive misses from the field by UC allowed Tech to use a 9-0 run to take a 25-20 lead with 5:48 remaining in the half.
Day Day Thomas knocked down a corner 3 to kick start a 7-2 run over the next 2:06 as the game was tied 27-27 at the final media stop of the first half.
With 3:42 remaining in the half, Tech had attempted 11 free throws, while UC attempted zero. Two Vik Lakhin free throws would be the only attempts for Wes Miller's group in the first half.
With the score tied at 34, Pop Isaacs knocked down a three to give Tech a 37-34 lead with :17 seconds left to play in the first half. Tech made their final four field goal attempts of the half and finished 4-of-7 from deep.
Cincinnati made six of their final eight field goal attempts of the half but found themselves down one, 37-36, at the half.
Dan Skillings scored ten first half points, including a layup with 3 seconds left to cap the first half scoring.
After a back and forth start to the second half, UC used a 6-0 run with baskets by Newman, Lakhin, and Reynolds to take a 46-43 advantage with 12:51 left in the game.
Tech missed five consecutive field goal attempts during the Bearcats' run.
UC extended their lead to 55-50 with 10:01 remaining following four free throws by Dan Skillings and Aziz Bandaogo.
The Cats would miss six consecutive field goal attempts and be held scoreless for the next two minutes 11 seconds as UC was clinging to a 1 point lead, 55-54, with 7:50 left to play.
A layup by Day Day Thomas with 5:53 left in the game gave Cincinnati a 59-56 lead.
Pop Isaacs would convert on four consecutive free throw attempts over the next 1:24 as Tech pulled ahead by 1, 60-59, with 4:29 to play.
Both teams were struggling from the field. Cincinnati had missed 12-of-13 field goal attempts, while Tech had been held without a field goal for four minutes 24 seconds.
Pop Isaacs ended the Tech field goal drought with an and-one to give the Red Raiders a 63-61 lead with 4:06 left on the clock.
A quick 5-0 run on a Newman 3-pointer and Lukosius layup in transition gave the Bearcats a 66-63 lead.
Lukosius' 3-pointer with 2:36 left to play extended the UC lead to four, 69-65.
With Cincinnati leading 71-67 following two Day Day Thomas free throws with 1:41 on the clock, the Red Raiders went on a 5-0 run over the next minute as Pop Isaacs drained a three with 35 seconds left to give Tech the lead.
Fourteen seconds later, Simas Lukosius took Chance McMillian off the dribble, drove to the right of the lane, rose up from 10 feet out, and knocked down a jumper to give the Cats a 1 point lead with 21 seconds left on the clock.
Dan Skillings grabbed Pop Isaacs miss at the other end and found John Newman ahead of the defense for an exclamation dunk as the Bearcats picked up another quad one road win, 75-72.
Key Stats and Notes:
- Cincinnati struggled down the stretch, being outscored 19-5 over the final 6:16 in the road loss to West Virginia. The Cats made six of their final seven field goal attempts over the final 4:23 against Texas Tech.
- Simas Lukosius led UC with 16 points, four rebounds on 6-of-12 shooting, 4-of-7 from deep. Lukosius has been asked to step up in big game situations this season and struggled at times with either missed open looks or turnovers. Not tonight. Lukosius made his final three field goal attempts tonight, including the game winner with 21 seconds remaining in the game.
- John Newman was a game time decision following a rib injury sustained at the end of the West Virginia game. The coaches didn't know if he would be able to play until going through pre-game shoot arounds. Newman responded by holding Texas Tech's leading scorer, Pop Isaacs, to 22 points on 5-of-19 shooting. Isaacs numbers were inflated by converting 9-of-12 free throw attempts. Newman finished with 11 points, five rebounds on 5-of-9 shooting.
- Aziz Bandaogo finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds. More importantly, he converted all four of his free throw attempts. The Bearcats shot just 10 free throws, but were perfect from the line as a team. In a game where Tech converted 19-of-24 free throw attempts, UC needed to take advantage of every free opportunity that they got.
- Dan Skillings missed all three of his 3-point attempts but still finished with 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting to go with seven rebounds. Skillings offensive rebound with 7:27 left in the game gave UC a second chance opportunity and led to two Aziz Bandaogo free throws.
- Jizzle James played just four minutes in the second half but scored seven first half points in eleven minutes of action. Day Day Thomas finished with nine points in 26 minutes. There are still some defensive break downs at times that are limiting Jizzle's minutes during crunch time, but he is giving the team exactly what they need from him offensively when he is on the floor.
- Cincinnati finished the game shooting 45 percent from the field (29-65) and 35 percent from deep (7-20). Texas Tech entered the game ranked second in the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage (37.5) but were limited to 33 percent (5-15) for the game from deep. The Red Raiders finished the game 24-of-59 for 41 percent from the field.
- The Bearcats were outscored in the paint (30-28) and second chance points (17-13), but outrebounded Tech 39-35.
This was a massive win for the Bearcats. Any time you can go on the road and knock off the 15th-ranked team in the country, it is not just a momentum and resume builder, but also a confidence builder. The Cats now have road wins over two top 15 teams, with the other coming in the Big 12 opener at BYU.
During Wes Miller's post game radio show, he had the following to say:
Wes Miller: "God I don't even know what to say. I'm just exhausted. This is everything you asked for. This is how you become a great program again. This how you become a better team. Nights like tonight give us a little confidence you can build off."— Ryan Roberts (@Ryan_Ky0203) February 4, 2024
February 10th v Houston 4:00
Wes Miller and Simas Lukošius recap our 75-72 victory at #15 Texas Tech: pic.twitter.com/LhLapKtRa9— Cincinnati Men’s Hoops (@GoBearcatsMBB) February 4, 2024