UC Men’s Basketball News: Loses thrilling game against #25 Texas, 74-73; Bearcats playing well in Big 12

By Marisol Nicholson

January 09, 2024








Simas Lukošius

CINCINNATI – The University of Cincinnati men’s basketball took No. 25-ranked Texas to the wire but fell short in the final seconds, losing 74-73 on Tuesday inside Fifth Third Arena.

After guard John Newman III missed a free throw with Cincinnati leading 73-72, Texas guard Max Abmas made a contested baseline mid-range jumper to put Texas up 1 with eight seconds left in the game.

Cincinnati forward Simas Lukosius’ desperation 3-pointer missed at the buzzer.

The crowd of 11,014 was treated to a classic in Cincinnati’s first-ever Big 12 Conference home game. The game featured 14 lead changes and 14 ties.

Lukosius had his best game of the season, scoring a season-high 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting while knocking down three 3-pointers. Lukosius dominated in the second half, scoring 14 points.

Texas forward Dylan Disu scored 33 points on 13-of-23 attempts, making four 3-pointers. Abmas added 15 points for the Longhorns, who shot 51% from the field and made six of their final seven field goals.

Viktor Lakhin scored 17 points on 7-of-12 field goal attempts for the Bearcats, who dropped to 12-3 overall and 1-1 in the Big 12. Texas improved to 12-3 and 1-1 in the league.

The Bearcats trailed by 4, 66-62, with five minutes left, but Lukosius and reserve post Jamille Reynolds kept Cincinnati in the game down the stretch.

Lukosius swished a 3 to bring the Bearcats within a point, 66-65, and then whipped a pass to freshman guard Jizzle James, who buried pull-up jumper that put Cincinnati up 1, 67-66.

Abmas followed with a bucket and then Texas capitalized on a UC turnover to go up 70-67 on a dunk by Dillon Mitchell with three minutes left.

Reynolds answered with a layup and Lukosius put Cincinnati back up by 1, 71-70, on a turnaround jumper in the lane with just under two minutes left.

Another turnaround jumper by Lukosius gave Cincinnati a 73-70 lead with 55 seconds left and put the crowd into a frenzy.

Disu’s jumper in the lane brought the Longhorns within a point, 73-72, and Abmas jumper lifted Texas to the win.

Cincinnati trailed 10-4 early in the first half after 3 from Disu, but Lakhin ignited an 11-0 run with seven consecutive points. The redshirt junior post drilled a second-chance 3-pointer and followed it up with a three-point play to bring the game back to even.

With the crowd on their feet, Lakhin would score another fast-break layup and a block on defense that would result in Lukosius sending the crowd into a frenzy as he knocked down a transition 3 to give UC a 15-10 lead.

Texas took back control of the game during a back-and-forth first half. After another Disu 3 gave the visitors a 39-33 advantage, Lakhin made a free throw and Skillings Jr. scored five straight points, including a massive one-handed fast break dunk to tie the game just before the break.

“First off, congrats to Texas. That was a heck of a college basketball game…What I don’t want to hear about is our free throw shooting. That is the thing that I’ve heard every time we lose, and our players hear it every time we lose. Nobody’s going to beat themselves up more than John [Newman III] tonight and that just breaks my heart. It isn’t fair because he shouldn’t do it because of one missed free throw on a one and one and that does not define the game. Unfortunately, he’s going to do that to himself, and I just hate that and we’re going to have his back because that isn’t why we lost. We had two chances to get stops to win that game and we didn’t get the stops.

“I thought Simas [Lukošius] was special. I thought he was special tonight. He made big time plays down the stretch when our team needed them. That is what big-time players do and we’ve known that about him for a long time. He’s been battling a bunch of injuries all fall and a bunch of crazy stuff, but he was really special tonight. It was good to see Jamille [Reynolds] come alive and you know Viktor [Lakhin] has been consistent all year.”

Cincinnati travels to Baylor for an 8 p.m. game in Waco, Texas, on Saturday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.