FORT WORTH — The Cincinnati men’s basketball team has arrived in the Lone Star State ahead of its AAC Championships opener against Temple, Friday at 3 p.m. ET.
Cincinnati claimed its 40th, 20-win season with a 97-74 Sunday win over SMU. That and the team’s 55.6 FG% marked its highest AAC game totals ever under Wes Miller. David DeJulius scored a career-high 30 points in his final home game, marking UC’s first season with two 30-point scorers (Landers Nolley, Arizona) since 2006-07. Nolley (10, 20-point games) also went 5-for-8 from deep for 24 total, putting him 13th nationally at 42.3 percent.
Nolley (team-high 16.5 ppg and 21-straight double-figure scoring games) was named to the AAC’s First Team. DeJulius earned Third-Team honors for the second-straight season, leading the AAC with 6.8 apg in league play as well as the nation with 16-straight games of five or more. His 5.3 per game is UC’s highest since All-American Steve Logan in 2002. Ody Oguama is also shooting 76.7 percent over his last seven games, which includes his first four double-figure scoring games of the season. Viktor Lakhin improved to 8th nationally at 63.6 percent shooting, while 1,000-point scorer Jeremiah Davenport has an 8.4 3FG% increase since his sixth-man transition (Jan. 5).
The Bearcats have set a school record for three-point makes (281) for the second-straight season, as well as improving their percentage by 4.5 percent from last year that includes a league-best 36.9 percent in league play. The Bearcats’ 77.9 ppg is their highest since 2002, finishing 5th in the AP. UC enters 16th in assist-turnover ratio, joining Rutgers as the only teams with two top-50 performers (DeJulius 17 and Mika Adams-Woods 46). UC is also 17-2 when winning the boards and 19-4 when up at the half.
Cincinnati leads 13-6 in the program’s AAC history, and the last nine meetings have been decided by single-digits (4.2 ppg).
Cincinnati snapped a three-game skid in the series with an 88-83 home overtime win on Feb. 22. Nolley went 4-for-4 from the field for nine of UC’s 13 overtime points as well, and Dan Skillings Jr. scored a career-high 15 points (6-8 FG) against his hometown school.
Cincinnati went 28-for-30 (93.3 percent) from the foul line, its highest clip on 20-plus attempts since at least 2010-11. The Bearcats, who were minus-18 in rebounding the first matchup, went plus-6 in the second one. Cincinnati never trailed after 8:26 in the first half, leading by as much as nine in the second. It also led 75-68 with 2:38 remaining.
UC was up 27-20 with 7:16 left in the New Year’s Day matchup, but the Owls responded from their timeout with a 15-0 run they would not relinquish. The Bearcats pulled within 46-44 in the final 13 minutes, but Temple went on a 9-2 run to take it back. Skillings played in front of more than 100 friends and family in the Jan. 1 matchup. His high school, Roman Catholic High School, is 1.6 miles from campus.
AAC TOURNEY HISTORY
Cincinnati has had a bye in every AAC Tournament with the exception of 2022. The Bearcats at one point had an eight-game win streak in the tournament, winning titles in 2018 and 2019. Each of the below games denote first rounds, quarters, semis and finals.
Five different players have been named to the AAC’s All-Tournament Team, most recently in 2021 with Davenport. Kyle Washington garnered one in 2018 as well, with Jacob Evans III, Gary Clark and Trevon Scott as the others. UC and Temple have never played on this stage, and the Bearcats are 3-2 all-time at Dickies Arena.
MILLER IN MARCH
Wes Miller enters this week with a 9-3 record over his last five conference tournaments, and all opponents were his third time facing them that season. This is Miller’s sixth 20-win season out of 12 as a head coach. He led UNC Greensboro to the 2018 and 2021 SoCon titles and NCAA bids, in addition to NITs in 2017 and 2019.
COURTESY CINCINNATI ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS