James' second half run keys Cincinnati's 86-81 overtime win over Howard
Cincinnati entered Tuesday night's game looking for their first 6 game winning streak since winning 9 straight during the 2018-2019 season. During that year, UC won 9 consecutive games in December then had an eight game winning streak during the month of July.
The 5-0 Bearcats traveled to Washington DC for a match up against Howard at "The Burr." Howard entered the game having won 10 straight at home.
Both teams came out struggling to get anything going offensively.
Through the first 6 minutes of the game, the two teams combined to score just 11 points. Joshua Strong's 3-pointer with 14:06 left in the first half gave Howard a 10-4 lead.
Simas Lukosius buried two three's to help key a 10-2 run to give UC their first lead, 14-12, with 10:30 remaining in the half.
The rest of the first half was similar to the first 10 minutes...back and forth.
Marcus Dockery made a free throw to tie the score at 25 with just under 4 minutes remaining in the half but the Bearcats closed out the final 3:53 with a 9-4 run to take a 34-29 lead in to the locker rooms.
Dan Skillings led the Bearcats with 10 first half points, while Columbus native Seth Towns led the Bison with 11 points.
Skillings extended the UC lead to 7, 45-38, with 15:31 left in the game.
Howard would respond with a 12-0 run over the next 4:36 to take a 50-45 lead at the 10:55 mark.
Jizzle James scored 8 of the next 10 points for UC but 7 straight possessions with points gave Howard a 61-56 advantage with 6:57 remaining on the clock.
An and one by John Newman cut the Bison lead to 61-58.
Vik Lakhin tied the game on the next Bearcats' possession and Jizzle James capped off the 7-0 run to give UC a 63-61 lead with 5:42 left to play.
Lakhin extended the UC lead to 66-61 with 3:39 remaining but Howard was able to battle back and keep it a one possession game over the final 3 minutes.
With UC leading 72-71 with 7 seconds remaining in regulation, Day Day Thomas calmly went to the line and sank both free throws to give the Bearcats a three-point advantage.
Seth Towns had 20 points to that point and added to his total with a 3 from the wing with a hand in his face to tie the score at 74 to send the game to overtime.
Howard scored the first basket in overtime but UC answered with a 6-0 run to take an 80-76 lead with 2:42 left in the extra period.
Seth Towns was able to cut the UC lead to 1, 82-81, with 40 seconds left but John Newman grabbed an offensive rebound on the next UC possession and sank two free throws with 9 seconds left to give the Bearcats an 84-81 advantage.
Day Day Thomas got a steal on the inbounds and ended the game with a dunk to seal an 86-81 victory for Cincinnati.
Key Stats and thoughts:
- Vik Lakhin led five double figure scorers with 19 points, 6 rebounds. Dan Skillings (16 pts, 6 rbs), Aziz Bandaogo (12 pts) , John Newman (11 pts, 6 rbs), and Simar Lukosius (11 pts) were the other double figure scorers.
- Jizzle James scored all 9 of his points in the second half during a 4:26 stretch where Howard went 7 straight possessions with a field goal. His presence at both ends was a major key to UC being able to hang around and ultimately escape with a win. The freshman also had zero turnovers in 20 minutes of action and 4 rebounds.
- Howard made 9-of-21 three-pointers and shot 50% from the field. UC made just 3-of-18 shots from outside. Prior to tonight, perimeter defense and rotations had been pretty solid through the first 5 games.
- UC had a massive size advantage across the board and it showed as UC out-rebounded Howard 36-24. No rebound was bigger than John Newman's offensive rebound with 9 seconds left in overtime. As a team, UC finished with 15 offensive rebounds.
- Seth Towns led Howard with 24 points but was limited to just 1 point in overtime. John Newman's defense on him in the extra possession was another example of why Wes Miller preached all off-season what his presence means to this team.
This was one I felt UC would win comfortably after coming off a blow out win over Georgia Tech. Howard was picked pre-season MEAC favorites and should win a lot of games in their league. They played the majority of the game without pre-season MEAC player of the year Shy Odom but still found a way to battle.
This team needed to face some adversity and have to grind out a win. They wee able to do what was necessary to get the job done.
Sunday 12/3 v Florida Gulf Coast 1:00 tip