Skillings' 25 points lead Cats past NKU

"Any time you play a local game, it's a big deal. Every game you play is a big deal but games in your area mean a little something because it's in your back yard."

Those were the words of Wes Miller earlier in the week when asked about today's match up against the NKU Norse.

Miller and his squad went across the river last season to Highlands Heights and lost to the Norse 64-51 in front of a sold out Truist Arena crowd. In the 9 game all time series, it was the first time that NKU had taken down the Bearcats.

While Brandon Warrick and his 10 points, 16 rebounds are no longer a concern for the Bearcats front court, preseason first team Horizon League selection Marquez Warrick and second team Horizon League selection Sam Vinson are both back leading the Norse this year. Warrick led the Norse with 22 points in the upset win over UC last year, while Vinson had 15.

Slowing those two down was going to be at the top of the defensive scouting report for Wes Miller and his team.

NKU scored the first basket of the game but the Bearcats outscored the Norse 6-4 over the next 4 minutes and would head in to the under 16 media timeout tied 6-6. Both teams struggled form the field early with UC going 3-of-7 and NKU going 2-of-8.

Cincinnati struggled early to defend Marquette transfer Keeyan Itejere as he scored 6 of NKU's first 10 points.

The Cats would eventually get going and put together an 8-0 run over 2:01 to take a 17-14 lead. Dan Skillings came off the bench and scored 8 points to spark the Cincinnati offense.

With 10:48 remaining in the 1st half, Cincinnati held a 17-14 advantage and had limited NKU to 0-for-6 from beyond the arc.

Viktor Lakhin pulled down 6 rebounds to go with 5 points as Cincinnati extended their lead to 21-16 with 9 minutes remaining in the half. 

(Photo Credit: Taylor Keeton)

NKU shot 51% from the field and out-rebounded UC 35-32 in last season's upset win over the Bearcats. Through the first 12 minutes of Sunday's game, UC held a 17-12 advantage on the boards and were limiting the Norse to 33% (7-of-21) from the field. 

Dan Skillings continued to play well off the bench as Cincinnati held a 33-29 lead with 3:05 left in the half. In 13 minutes, Skillings had 14 points, 7 rebounds. His 3 pointer from the left wing at the 4:02 mark gave the Bearcats a 7 point lead, 33-26, but LJ Wells connected from 3 at the other end to cut the deficit back to 4 points. 

The Bearcats closed the half with a 12-2 run and held NKU scoreless over the final 2:08 to take a 45-31 lead in to the locker room at the half.

(Photo Credit: Taylor Keeton)

Dan Skillings led the way with 14 opts, 7 rbs while Vik Lakhin pulled down 9 rebounds to go with 11 points. John Newman was also approaching double figures with 9 first half points. 

NKU was limited to 11-of-33 shooting from the field in the first half and perimeter defense continued to be a strengthn as the Norse connected on just 2-of-13 looks from outside. 


After struggling from the field in the first half, NKU opened the second half making 4 of their first 5 shots. Marquez Walker scored 4 during the segment but Cincinnati Day Day Thomas scored 5 consecutive points for the Cats to keep UC ahead by double figures.

(Photo Credit: Taylor Keeton)

Skillings stayed hot to start the second half with 4 points during NKU's hot shooting streak. His dunk with 15:30 remaining in the game gave the Bearcats a 55-39 lead and put his game total at 18 points. 

Jizzle James connected on a corner 3 with 13:22 remaining in the game to give UC their biggest lead of the game at 20 points, 64-44. The three by James was the fifth consecutive made field goal for the Bearcats. 

NKU made just 1-of-7 shots after opening the half making 4-of-5. Back to back three's by CJ Fredrick and Simas Lukosius extended the Cats lead to 70-46 with 9:58 left in the game. 

NKU was able to cut the deficit to 81-61 with 3:58 left by making 4-of-5 field goal attempts but UC's offensive firepower was just too much for the Norse. Day Day Thomas scored 11 second half points on 4-of-6 shooting to give him a new career high, 20 points. 

When the final horn sounded, Cincinnati walked off the floor with a 90-66 win to improve to 4-0.

(Photo Credit: Taylor Keeton)

Final Stats and Thoughts:

Dan Skillings has rebounded the ball extremely well through the first 4 games. He had a career day today with 25 points, 9 rebounds on 8-of-12 shooting, 3-of-5 from 3. The talented sophomore also made 6-of-8 free throw attempts.

- Day Day Thomas was a big reason UC had virtually no issues against NKU's match up zone. Thomas had a career day with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting.

- Vik Lakhin had another double double with 14 points, 14 rebounds. 

- John Newman didn't score in the second half but his 9 first half points were a big reason the Bearcats were able to pull away over the final two minutes. Newman's defense on Warrick helped limit the talented guard until the end when he finally got going a little. Warrick finished with 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting.

- Simas Lukosius was mentioned by Wes as being a guy that can help facilitate things within the offense. He had another productive day with 7 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds.

- UC pulled down 18 offensive rebounds and out-rebounded NKU 45-30 for 24 second chance points. 

- 21 assists on 35 made baskets....Wes' offense was outstanding today with sharing the ball and moving it to get the defense out of place for good looks at the rim and from outside. UC finished 10-27 from beyond the arc while limiting NKU to 4-20 from the perimeter.


The Cats are now 4-0 with a Wednesday night match up against Georgia Tech. This team continues to progress each game without two key players in the front court being available. A lot to like about this team but still a long way to go before Big 12 play begins. 

Postgame video:


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published