The University of Cincinnati men’s basketball team was outscored 41-29 and shot 39.1% in the second half on its way to losing the season opener to No. 18 Ohio State, 64-56, Wednesday evening at Value City Arena.
The Buckeyes opened the final 20 minutes on a 16-5 run and UC struggled to gain any momentum after holding a seven-point lead at halftime.
“The expectation was [Ohio State] was going to go on a run in the second half, and they did,” UC head coach John Brannen said. “I felt like we were constantly in a one possession game including at the end with a few steals ... You expect that in an environment like this.”
The crowd was silent most of the first half, as Ohio State didn’t convert its first field goal until the 12:20 mark. It was able to keep close by getting into the bonus 10 minutes in and limiting UC senior guard Jarron Cumberland to seven points in the half.
Cumberland remained aggressive, but never found the rhythm he’s fond of getting in to. He shot 4-of-7 from the free throw line in the second half, but only 4-of-13 on field goals for the game without a three-pointer in the game. He didn’t make his first basket until the 10:20 mark of the first half.
“I think for Jarron its just getting in shape right now,” Brannen said. “… The bottom line is it comes down to practice. Him and I are still learning each other right now because it was our first opportunity together … I thought it looked like an early season game.”
Both teams struggled to make shots throughout the game. UC had two scoring droughts of over two minutes and one over five minutes that prevented them from maintaining a lead. The Bearcats lost their halftime lead just over three minutes in due to Ohio State’s assurgency with four three pointers and 19 free throws in the second half.
A big part was UC’s big men Chris Vogt and Jaume “Jay” Sorolla struggling to stay in front of OSU center Kaleb Wesson. Wesson was able to get by Vogt and Sorolla, and scored six points in the second half. Wesson also added 11 total rebounds.
“I feel we played the way [Brannen] wanted us to play,” UC senior guard Chris McNeal said. “In the first half we really displayed our capability on defense, but it didn’t follow through in the second half … In the first half I thought we had some good looks, but we just didn’t knock them down. Defensively is where we slipped up. That was our biggest mistake, especially in the second half.”
Ohio State was led by Kyle Young with 14 points on six-of-seven shooting. Young also pulled down 13 rebounds for his first career double-double.
The Buckeyes shot 57.1% from three and 79% from the line in the final 20 minutes after shooting just 11.1% from beyond the arc and 0% from the charity stripe in the first half.
The Bearcats were led by seniors Keith Williams and Jarron Cumberland with 13 points each.
UC's home opener is Monday against Drake University. Tip-off is 7 p.m.