Marching on: Skillings' 25 points leads Bearcats to 72-52 win over Kansas

Cincinnati entered Wednesday night's match up against 6th seed Kansas will several factors working in their favor.

The Jayhawks had lost three of their last four and were without the services of their two leading scorers and rebounders, Kevin McCullar and Hunter Dickinson.

"We understand who we're playing against. We have a ton of respect for that. We're playing them here in Kansas City," Wes Miller told the media following the win over West Virginia.

"I think it's just an opportunity for our group and I think the one thing , we have a lot of respect for Kansas regardless of who can or can't play."

Cincinnati used their size advantage early and raced out to a 12-7 lead behind six points from Dan Skillings Jr.

Jizzle James keyed a 7-0 UC run over 2:05 to give the Bearcats a 19-11 lead with 11:04 remaining in the first half.

Kansas attacked the rim early and scored in the paint but missed four consecutive field goal attempts during a scoring drought that lasted 3:19 heading in to the under 12 media timeout. 

The Jayhawks ended their scoring drought with a 5-0 run out of the media timeout but Day Day Thomas and Simas Lukosius buried three's on back-to-back possessions to key an 8-2 run.

With 7:19 left on the clock in the first half, Cincinnati led 27-18 and were 4-for-8  from deep.

Cincinnati extended their lead to 32-18 with 4:41 left following a Newman three and Dan Skillings finish in transition. 

At the 3:41 mark of the first half, Kansas hadn't scored a field goal in 5:16 and had missed seven consecutive field goal attempts. 

Dajuan Harris ended an over six minute field goal drought by KU with 2:06 left in the half and the Bearcats leading 36-21.

Kansas closed the half missing nine of their final eleven field goal attempts and Cincinnati went in to the locker room with a 38-25 halftime lead.

UC got balanced scoring during the first half with five different players scoring 6 or more points. Dan Skillings led the Cats with 10 first half points. 

Cincinnati missed all five field goal attempts to open the second half and the Jayhawks took advantage of the UC offensive struggles.

Kansas used a 7-0 run, capped off by a Jamari McDowell three, to cut the UC lead to 38-32 with 16:43 left to play. 

John Newman ended the UC scoring drought but KJ Adams scored at the other end over Bandaogo, who then threw the ball out of bounds while trying to rush the inbounds.

At the 15:28 mark of the second half, UC had made just 1-of-8 field goal attempts and Kansas was gaining momentum.

KJ Adams scored again out of the timeout and was fouled by Skillings in the process to cut the UC lead to 40-36.

Skillings would then provide a much needed basket moments later.

After missing a three from the wing, Skillings followed his shot and got the rebound and put back to extend the UC lead to 43-38 with 10:58 remaining in the game.

Skillings bucket ended a field goal drought that had lasted 4:58. 

The sophomore would bury a three off an assist from Lukosius at the 10:06 mark to extend the UC lead to eight, 48-40.

Nicholas Timberlake made a lay up to cut the UC lead to 48-42 but their Bearcats answered with an Aziz Bandaogo dunk and Simas Lukosius three to push the lead back to double figures.

At the eight minute mark, Cincinnati led Kansas 53-42.

A three by Newman and dunk by Skillings in transition off a lob from Newman extended the UC lead to 58-44 with 5:46 remaining. 

Kansas made one last run to cut the Cincinnati lead to nine with 4:35 remaining but the Bearcats closed the game with a 14-3 run over the final 4:07 to close out the Jayhawks and advance to the quarterfinals with a 72-52 win.

Dan Skillings scored eight points during the final run to send the Bearcats in to the next round.

Key Stats/Notes:

- We have seen Dan Skillings struggle with consistency at times this season but he was absolutely phenomenal, scoring 15 of his game high 25 points in the second half. Skillings scored all 15 points of the second half over the final 11 minutes of the game. 


"Two nights in a row Danny has the "pop" you see the maturity happening in front of us," Wes Miller told media following the game. " He's starting to learn what it takes to win and do the little stuff. I thought he made big plays, obviously scoring it, but making making plays for  others as well. He has two assists but he created more action than that."

- John Newman finished the game with 12 points, 10 rebounds on 4-of-8 shooting and 2-of-4 from 3. Newman's free throw with 12:27 remaining gave UC a 41-38 lead and gave the Bearcats some momentum down the stretch. Wes Miler was pleased with Newman's play following the game

"I thought John got back to being John tonight. He impacts the game. I thought him getting on the defensive board for us was a big deal tonight. I could feel that on some possessions where we got them to miss. 

-Day Day Thomas finished with 8 points after having a career night against West Virginia, but it was the play of Jizzle James that helped carry the Cats during spurts tonight. His biggest play of the game came with 10:32 remaining when he hit a jumper from the free throw to give UC a 45-40 lead. UC started the second half 3-for-18 and that basket helped get them going for the closing run over the final 10 minutes.

- Simas Lukosius didn't have the type of shooting night that he had against West Virginia, but he was still able to finish with 10 points, 6 rebounds on 4-of-16 shooting, 2-of-8 from deep. 

- For Kansas, KJ Adams was an absolute star tonight. The Jayhawks finished 3-of-20 from three and 21-of-62 from the field, but Adams was the most consistent player offensively and kept Kansas in the game until the final Cincinnati run. Adams finished with 22 points, 4 rebounds on 9-of-14 shooting. 

- Cincinnati's finished the game 18-of-73 from the field and 9-of-26 from deep. The Bearcats held a 49-38 rebounding advantage and scored 18 second chance points off 16 offensive rebounds. The Bearcats outscored KU 38-32 in the paint and turned 12 Kansas turnovers in to 17 points. 

Final Thoughts:

Cincinnati won this game with defense and rebounding. They held Kansas to 3-of-20 from deep and used an aggressive defense and physicality that really bothered the Jayhawks for 40 minutes. At the end of the day, they simply didn't have enough horses to keep up and Bill Self said the same thing during his post game press conference.

" They're strong on the perimeter and athletic and I think their size and athleticism bothered us. And they're good. Statistically, they're one of the better teams in America defensively, efficiency. So we didn't have enough weapons to score the ball. And when we did get looks, we needed to take advantage of it and didnt do that. 

Up Next:

Cincinnati will advante to the Big 12 Quarterfinals, where they will meet third seed Baylor. The two teams last met on January 13th, a  62-59 Baylor win in Waco.

"We will get to work and start watching Baylor as soon as we get back and start getting the guysa little bit of a brief review and then get them to bed to get rest and we'll get back to work on it in the morning."

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