This past Sunday, it looked certain that Bearcats men's basketball would be forced to settle for an impromptu Senior Day capped with a tight loss to the University of Memphis. Well, history has repeated itself. This time with a loss to Vanderbilt University with a final score of 78-64.
Although the senior day ceremonies remained unique to Sunday, the University of Cincinnati threw together a last-ditch effort to put one final home game on the schedule. It was mostly to provide its seniors with some preparation before stepping into Fifth Third Arena for the final time.
"I hate it for our seniors," head coach John Brannen said post-game, referring to the minimal amount of allowed attendance. "I was hoping to help them a little bit, trying to get a win here at home court for the last time. Wasn't in the cards tonight, we got outplayed."
The Bearcats were able to keep it moderately close, continually allowing the Commodores to go on short-lived runs, only to pull themselves back into contention time after time. Despite the efforts, Cincinnati never held the lead save for a sliver in the game's opening minutes.
Scotty Pippen Jr., son of Chicago Bulls legend and hall of famer Scottie Pippen, dominated the court in the first half of the game. The point guard put up 23 points shooting 5-5 from the three-point range, and went 6-6 from the line in just the first twenty minutes.
"He creates so many opportunities for his teammates," Brannen said. "He has tremendous pace; I think he knows how to lean his body certain ways and gets calls, that helps too. Obviously, he's a great player. He continues to get better the more you watch him."
Pippen Jr. has been enjoying somewhat of a breakout sophomore year as he's reached the double-digits in scoring in every single game so far this season for the Commodores, averaging 20.5 points on a 43% shooting mark.
He came out into the second half making two consecutive buckets and converting another trip to the line, carrying his momentum into the rest of the game. Pippen Jr. finished with the game with a career-high 36 points on 10-13 shooting with three rebounds and assists.
Leading the chase for Cincinnati were Keith Williams, Jeremiah Davenport and Mika Adams-Woods. The trio combined for 51 of the teams 64 points and were the only players to cross over into the double-digits.
Williams sat out much of the first half after starting hot, getting in a bit of foul trouble. The senior spent the final half of his career in Fifth Third Arena continuing to be an offensive presence, leading the Bearcats with 20 points on 6-12 shooting.
Meanwhile, Davenport and Adams-Woods specialized in showing up in key moments for Cincinnati – helping swing momentum in their direction to keep the team in contention. Including a powerful dunk by Davenport with eight minutes left in the game to make the shoreline separated by only seven points.
Davenport finished with 15 points on 6-9 shooting with six rebounds and five assists and Adams Woods with 15 and the same 6-9 shooting.
The Bearcats fall to 9-10 (7-6 AAC) and are set to travel to East Carolina University to finish their regular season. Gameday is Mar. 7 at 1 p.m., and can be streamed on ESPN+.