Bearcats fall to 1-2 in Big 12 play with 62-59 road loss to Baylor

The Big 12 gauntlet continued Saturday night when the Bearcats traveled to Waco (TX) for an 8 pm tip off inside the brand-new Foster Pavilion against the 14th-ranked Baylor Bears. 

Winners of four straight, Baylor entered Saturday night's match-up with the best 3-point percentage in the country.

For the Bearcats to pick up their second road win in Big 12 play, they were going to have to defend the perimeter and limit turnovers. 

Through two Big 12 games against Texas and BYU, Cincinnati averaged 17 turnovers per game. 

Wes Miller was also going to have to put together a game plan that did not include 7-foot center Aziz Bandaogo. Bandaogo was ruled out after re-aggravating the back injury that kept him out for three games following the Dayton game.

Baylor jumped out to a quick 5-1 lead following RayJ Dennis 3-pointer.

The Bearcats answered with an 8-4 run of their own, keyed by 4 points from Day Day Thomas. At the first media stop, Cincinnati and Baylor were tied at 9 with both teams shooting 57% from the field. 

Jamille Reynolds entered at the 16:06 mark and proceeded to score six straight for the Bearcats. Cincinnati held a 15-12 advantage but Langston Love buried a 3-pointer to know things at 15.

Both Viktor Lahkin and Caleb Lohner were assessed a technical foul on the shot as Lohner went in for the rebound and threw a forearm at Lakhin. Lakhin responded resulting in his second personal foul of the half. An already thin Cincinnati front court got even thinner.

Reynolds picked up his second foul at the 8:45 mark of the first half, forcing Wes Miller to put Lakhin back in the game.

The Bearcats led 20-18 at the under 8 media stop after a Simas Lukosius up and under finish in traffic. 

The next four-minute segment wouldn't be kind to either team. 

Cincinnati missed 7-of-8 shot attempts, while Baylor went scoreless for 3:03. Dan Skillings layup with 5:25 left in the half gave UC a 22-21 lead heading into the final media stop of the half. 

Day Day Thomas' jumper with 2:04 remaining extended the UC lead to 27-23 but the Bearcats would be held scoreless the rest of the half and head in to the locker room tied at 27 at the half. 

Langston Love led Baylor with 11 first half points to pace the Bears' 42-percent showing from the field. The biggest difference in the first half was the Bears' ability to knock down 3-of-9 three-point shots while Cincinnati made just 1-of-8. 

Cincinnati did a good job defensively on the Bears' leading scorer, Ja'Kobe Walter, as he was held scoreless in the first half. 

After a sluggish end to the first half, Cincinnati opened the second half on a 9-2 run to take 36-29 lead with 17:13 left in the game. 

Day Day Thomas' 3-point play on an and-one and Dan Skillings dunk in transition following a Baylor turnover keyed the run. 

Trailing 38-31, Baylor's Ja'Kobe Walter scored his first two points of the game on two free throws with 15:02 left in the game.

Those two points would spark a 7-0 run over the next 2:03 to tie the game at 38. Baylor's run was aided by a 3:41 scoring drought by the Bearcats. 

Cincinnati's scoring drought continued over the next 2:13 as Baylor extended their run to 13-2 to take a 42-38 lead with 10:46 left. 

Walter's initial free throws would key a 20-7 run over the next 8:43 as Baylor's lead grew to 6, 51-45, with 6:19 left in the game. Walter had 9 points for the Bears during the run. 

Dan Skillings' 3-pointer with 4:37 remaining in the game cut the Baylor lead to 3, 53-50, but Josh Ojianuwa scored an easy bucket at the rim at the other end to push the lead back to 5, 55-50, with 3:44 left.

Trailing 59-50 with 2:54 left, Dan Skillings put together a personal 7-0 run over the next 34 seconds to cut Baylor's lead to 59-57 with 2:02 left in the game. 

Cincinnati held Baylor without a field goal over the final 3:32 and had two chances to win the game in the final 20 seconds, down 60-59, but the Bearcats finished the game missing all five of their field goal attempts as Baylor walked off their home floor with a hard fought 63-60 win.

Key Takeaways:

- Dan Skillings was the best player on the floor tonight and it might not have been close. He finished with a game high 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting (4-of-6 3FG) to go with 6 rebounds. He had a look at the rim down 1 but his off balance shot went off the mark. If he can continue to put together consistent efforts like tonight, the Bearcats are going to be just fine once they get healthy. 

- Day Day Thomas had another game of missing multiple lay ups at the rim but still finished with 15 points on 6-of-15 shooting. His 3-point shooting is still a serious concern. He missed all 5 attempts tonight and is now 13-of-53 for the season 

- Vik Lakhin finished with 7 points but fouled out with 2:02 remaining. Reynolds had 7 points, 6 rebounds but scored his last points at the 11:25 mark of the first half. 

- As a team, Cincinnati shot 39 percent (24-61) from the field, 19% (4-21) from 3, and 58 percent (7-12) from the free throw line. The Bearcats pulled down 12 offensive rebounds and tied Baylor at 32 rebounds for the game. 

- Defensively, Cincinnati was really good tonight, despite the big runs in the second half and loss. They limited the best three-point shooting team in the country to 5-of-20 (25%) and held them 26 points below their 88 point average.

- Baylor was led by Walter (14 pts), Langston Love (14 pts), and both RayJ Dennis and Josh Ojianwuna with 11 each. 

Final thoughts:

This is yet another tough loss in a one possession game but simply life in the Big 12. At the end of the day, this is a player driven league and Baylor just made more plays when they needed to. They were able to knock down one more three pointer and made five more free throws. Cincinnati went in to a hostile environment and had multiple chances to win in the final 20 seconds. That's really all you can ask for. The Bearcats are still not healthy with Bandaogo and Fredrick both out, but Miller mentioned post game that Aziz felt fine but was held out due to a medical procedure he had earlier in the week to help his back feel better. Fredrick is a different story and is expected to be out a few more weeks.

Up Next:

Tuesday 1/16 v TCU



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