The University Cincinnati Bearcats improved to 4-0 on the season after a 79-45 win over the Presbyterian Blue Hose. This game was the final of the Bearcats opening homestand, a stretch in which Cincinnati fans got to watch Head Coach Wes Miller have some early success to start his Bearcat tenure. With four opening wins, Miller is off to the best record ever as a first-year Cincinnati head coach.
The Bearcats and Blue Hose both started the game off slow, combining for only four makes on 16 attempts in the first eight minutes of the game. It wasn’t until Cincinnati guard Jeremiah Davenport made a three-pointer that sparked an 18-3 Bearcats run that included 13 straight points.
The Bearcats have made big runs an early season calling card of theirs, and it has allowed them to completely dominate both ends of the floor. Cincinnati’s 13 straight points in the first half made them four for four on games with a run of double digits. Additionally, the Bearcats haven’t allowed an opponent to reach 10 straight points once this season, with Georgia’s nine straight being the closest.
Coach Wes Miller says that one of the keys to their runs has been their defense and how it’s impacted their transition offense.
“If you really defend, you’re going to create live ball stops, whether that’s turnovers or defensive rebounds, and we work on our running game every day,” Miller said. “I think it’s getting better in practice and we’re getting better game to game.”
Another key to Cincinnati’s fourth-straight win was how they took advantage of the mistakes Presbyterian made. Presbyterian fouled the Bearcats 17 times, including 12 times in the first half, which gave Cincinnati 16 shots from the free-throw line. The Bearcats came into the game shooting just 66% from the free-throw line, but took advantage of their opportunities Thursday night, making 14 of their 16 attempts.
The Blue Hose also turned the ball over 17 times, 10 of which were steals, and the Bearcats used those steals in transition to score 26 points off turnovers.
The emergence of skill and depth at the big man position has been important to the early success of the Bearcats, and that depth opens up opportunities for a different player to make a big impact in each game.
Abdul Ado had his first big game as a Bearcat on Thursday night. Ado made his presence in the paint known, as he totaled a game-high five blocks. Presbyterian only had four blocks the entire game.
“I want to welcome Abdul Ado to Cincinnati. I’m glad he showed up, and I hope he stays awhile. I thought his presence defensively was there all night, and we got a chance to see him make some plays around the rim,” said Miller. “He’s been battling some injuries, and he’s learning the new system. But tonight, we saw some of the things that we believe he’s going to be able to do to impact the game and have a good year for us.”
Early in the second half, Cincinnati forward Viktor Lakhin limped off the court after a block attempt. Lakhin stayed on the bench after his injury but did not return to the game.
“He was just cramping,” Miller said. “That’s part of the deal, he’s been in and out of practice, he’s got to continue to get into better shape.”
Lakhin rolled his ankle before the Georgia game and missed Cincinnati’s matchup against Alabama A&M because of it but was cleared to play Thursday against Presbyterian.
Cincinnati is set to play their first away game from Fifth Third Arena this season, as they’ll take on the Illinois Fighting Illini for the Hall of Fame Classic at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri. That game will take place on Nov. 22, with tip-off at 6:30 p.m.