By Bane Rossi
CINCINNATI — Fresh off its first road trip of the season, the Cincinnati men’s basketball team is eager to return to the friendly confines of Fifth Third Arena to host Florida Gulf Coast at 1 p.m. Sunday.
- Cincinnati, receiving top-25 votes for the first time of the Wes Miller era, is coming off its first single-digit decision of the year with Tuesday’s 86-81 overtime win at Howard.
- The win was UC’s first under Miller in which the opponent shot 50 percent or better. Simas Lukosius had all of the team’s three treys, which marked UC’s fewest of the Miller tenure.
- Outside shooting would not be the end-all, however, as the Bearcats posted a season-high 54 paint points. Viktor Lakhin keyed the attack with 19 points for his fourth-straight double-figure scoring game, and Aziz Bandaogo added 12 in his first start and second overall game. He is 7-for-9 from the field.
- The Bearcats’ 6-0 start is their best since winning the first seven in 2017-18.
- Cincinnati is 24th in scoring offense, including five-straight games of 80-plus points since 2005-06, when Andy Kennedy was the interim head coach.
- Jizzle James scored seven of his nine points over a two-minute span in the second half, all in the midst of Howard scoring on seven-straight possessions. The freshman also added a career-high four rebounds while his father, Pro Football Hall of Famer Edgerrin James, was in attendance with Clinton Portis.
- James has made great strides in ball security. He had six turnovers in his first two games and has just two over the last four, stretching 68 minutes.
- Dan Skillings’ 16 points featured some highlight-reel drives and dunks. UC improved to 8-0 in the sophomore’s career when he scores in double-figures. UC’s 37.0 bench points per game also rank fifth nationally.
- John Newman III was Mr. Clutch in D.C. He pulled down an offensive rebound with nine seconds left in overtime, then subsequently made two foul shots and picked off Howard’s pass that eliminated the Bison’s tying threat.
- Newman’s 11 points at Howard have him at 10.2 ppg for the year, up 3.3 from his last true season (2021-22). His FG% is also up to 56.4 from 40.5 to go with his invaluable defense and leadership.
- UC is 33-9 at home under Miller and 43-10 when leading at the half (6-0 this season).
- Cincinnati is sixth in assist-turnover ratio (first in the Big 12) at 1.89.
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