Skillings' career high 29 leads Cats past Stetson


Cincinnati entered Friday night's match up against Stetson off their best defensive performance of the young season.

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

The Bearcats limited Merrimack to just 49 points and forced 17 turnovers. The 49 point total was the lowest an opponent has scored against Cincinnati since November 2021.

Stetson presented a different challenge.

The Hatters came in as the best free throw shooting in the country and had shown consistency from beyond the arc, connecting on 37% of their 3-point attempts.

CJ Fredrick returned after not playing against Merrimack, but Simas Lukosius was held out and Aziz Bandaogo also didn't play from a back injury suffered in the Dayton loss.

Stetson opened the game scoring the first bucket and would proceed to go on a 10-2 run. James Blackmon, Stetson's leading scorer, scored 5 of those points forcing Wes Miller to call a timeout just three minutes in to the game to try to settle his team. 

Cincinnati would answer with a 7-0 run out of the under 16 media timeout as they limited Stetson to zero field goals for a 3:28 stretch. Jamille Reynolds scored baskets on back to back possessions then found Dan Skillings on the left wing for a wide open 3. Jizzle James driving up and under finish gave UC a 22-15 lead with 10:38 left in the half.

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

The Bearcats converted on 6 consecutive field goal attempts, while limiting Stetson to just 1 field goal on 7 attempts during the 20-5 run.

Stetson cut the lead to 22-21 with a 6-0 run but CJ Fredrick ended the run with a 3 to push the Bearcats' lead to 25-21. Jalen Blackmon answered Fredrick's three with one of his own, as Cincinnati led just 25-24 with 7:25 left in the first half despite starting 10-for-17 from the field.

Dan Skillings has struggled since the Xavier game, averaging just 6 points per game. 

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

With UC leading 25-24 and needing momentum, Skillings came off a screen at the top of the key and exploded to the rim for a two hand finish. On the next possession, he knocked down his third 3-pointer of the half to extend the Cincinnati lead to 30-24. 

Day Day Thomas extended the lead to 32-24 at the 5:27 mark as Stetson was held almost three minutes without a field goal or point. 

Stetson was able to put together an 8-0 run while Cincinnati struggled from the field over the next 3 minutes. With 2:17 remaining, Cincinnati was tied with Stetson, 32-32.

The Bearcats held Stetson without a field goal over the final 3:04 but led by just 5 points, 38-33, at the half.

Dan Skillings led all scorers at the half with 16 points on a perfect 4-of-4 from deep and 6-of-6 FG.

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)


Stetson's ability to get to the free throw line and convert on 11-of-13 attempts kept things close through the first 20 minutes of play. The Hatters also got 9 points off 6 UC turnovers.


Viktor Lakhin extended the UC lead to 40-33 on the first offensive possession but two turnovers led to five Stetson points to cut the lead to 40-38.

CJ Fredrick made a 3 on the next possession to push the lead out to 43-38 but would be taken out of the game and back to the locker room after an apparent injury to his hamstring. Fredrick would return moments later and re-enter the game.

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

Alec Ogelsby converted an and one to cut Cincinnati's lead to 43-41 with 15:53 remaining in the game.

Over the next 3 minutes, UC got five points from Jamille Reynolds and 4 from Day Day Thomas to push the lead out to 52-41 at the 12:21 mark. Reynolds hit his first three as a Bearcat during the run.

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)


Jalen Blackmon scored 9 of the next 17 points for Stetson as the Hatters cut the UC lead to 63-58 with 7:24 remaining in the game. Back to back 3-pointers by Treyton Thompson and Stephan Swenson keyed the Stetson run.

Dan Skillings and John Newman scored on consecutive drives to the basket to push the Cincinnati lead back to 10, 68-58, less than a minute later.

Jalen Blackmon cut the UC lead to 72-66 after nailing back to back three's on consecutive possessions. The former Grand Canyon transfer was up to 17 second half points following the made baskets as UC had no answer for him.

Following a Day Day Thomas drive and finish, Dan Skillings was fouled on a drive to the basket. After the play there was some pushing and shoving between the teams as Treyton Thompson was called for a technical foul and ejected with 3:50 remaining in the game. Reynolds and Lakhin were also called for technical fouls following the review.

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

Skillings made 1-of-2 free throws and a driving floater on the next possession to extend the UC lead to 77-66 with 2:59 left to play.

Jalen Blackmon continued to be a problem for UC, scoring 9 straight to cut Cincinnati's lead to 6, 81-75. 

The 31 points for Blackmon wouldn't be enough as the Bearcats walked off the floor with a hard fought 83-75 victory.

Final Stats and thoughts:

- Dan Skillings led the Bearcats with a career high 29 points on 11-of-14 shooting, 4-of-6 from deep, to go with 10  rebounds. Skillings block with 14 minutes left in the first half really gave the Bearcats a spark defensively and allowed them to get in a rhythm at both ends.

- Day Day Thomas has played well in the second half of game throughout the season. That continued tonight as he poured in 11 of his 17 points during the second half. 

- Vik Lakhin was 6-of-10 from the field and finished with 12 points, 9 rebounds. 

- Jamille Reynolds struggled with footwork at times in the first half but started the game 5-for-5 from the field and finished with 14 points, 4 rebounds. As he starts to get more comfortable playing next to Vik Lakhin, we should see both continue to eveolve and play off one another. The biggest question with those two is can they defend with both on the floor?

- CJ Fredrick attacked close outs hard off the bounce tonight and finished with a career high 7 assists. Fredrick struggled from the field, finishing with 6 points, but his ability to make the right pass and play with the ball in his hands was key with Simas Lukosius being out with a shoulder injury.

- UC finished 32-of-62 from the field (51.6%) , 7-of-22 from 3-point range (31.8%) , and 12-of-17 from the free throw line

- Bearcats owned the paint, out-rebounding Stetson 40-24 and scoring 42 points in the paint. 

- Stetson came in to tonight as the best free throw shooting team in the country. They got to the line 29 times, converting on 24 of those attempts. Wes mentioned post game that some of his players have bad defensive habits that they have to break. 

With the win, Cincinnati improves to 10-2 in non-conference play.

Up Next:

Friday 12/29 v Evansville 7 pm

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