Cincinnati Basketball Tournament: Detroit Mercy Preview

The Cincinnati Basketball Tournament, presented by Allegiant Air, begins Friday night against Detroit Mercy at 7 p.m.

(Photo: University of Cincinnati Athletics)

The event also features a Sunday noon match up against the defending Big Sky champions, Eastern Washington. 

What you need to know:

  • The MTE atmosphere will be similar to the raucous, lower-bowl seating only environment as the Bearcats' NIT win over Virginia Tech last year.
  • Cincinnati is coming off a 69-58 win Monday night against UIC, in which it led the final 29 minutes and kept the lead between 8-16 points over the final 15.
  • Day Day Thomas led the way with 15 points. It was the first season-opener since 2010 that a newcomer led UC in scoring (freshman Sean Kilpatrick, 2010).
  • Dan Skillings Jr. also had a solid night with 13 points and eight rebounds while drawing seven fouls. His 28 minutes were a career-high as well. UC improved to 5-0 when the sophomore has reached double-figure scoring.
  • Ody Oguama (65 career starts) and Viktor Lakhin (32) finished with eight rebounds apiece. It was UC's third game with a trio of 8-plus rebounders in the last year-plus.
  • Cincinnati native and Kentucky transfer CJ Fredrick was the third double-digit scorer for UC with 11 points. He made three of his first four long-range attempts off the bench. 
  • UC had a 30-4 advantage in bench points. 
  • The Bearcats are 29-9 at home under Wes Miller and 38-10 when leading at the half. UC also went 13-8 after switching to a three-guard lineup on Jan. 5 last year.
  • The defense held UIC to 2-of-16 deep shooting, with the 12.5 percent clip the second-lowest of the Wes Miller tenure. It was the fifth time in his 2-plus years that an opponent made two or fewer on the Bearcats.
  • Cincinnati was 30th nationally in fewest turnovers after going 28th in 2021-22, and it committed just nine against UIC. UC was 267 and 289 the previous two years before Miller's arrival. UC's 77.1 ppg were also its most since 2001-02.  

What to know about Detroit Mercy:

It is the second year in a row that the Titans will play at Cincinnati.

  • Cincinnati is 3-2 all-time against the Titans, including a 72-54 home win on Dec. 21, 2022.
  • Viktor Lakhin posted career-highs of 18 points and 15 rebounds in that one, with the boards still remaining a personal-best.
  • Twenty-seven of UC's points are on this year's roster, and none of the Titan starters from that game are on the current squad.
  • Detroit lost to Toledo in their opener, 94-60. Graduate senior Donovann Toatley had a career-high 20 points to go with six assists, three steals and two rebounds, while graduate senior Oton Jankovic netted a career-best nine points and four boards. Detroit Mercy shot 53.2% in the game against the Rockets but committed 23 turnovers. This will be a game where Cincinnati has an opportunity to exploit the opposition with the pressure.
  • Detroit Mercy Redshirt freshman Abdullah Olajuwon is the son of NBA Hall of Famer, Hakeem Olajuwon.
  • Detroit Mercy is replacing four starters, including the two-time Horizon League Player of the Year Antoine Davis
  • The Titans welcome back just five letterwinners from a year ago and one starter in Jayden Stone, who missed the second semester.  
  • With those returners, the Titans bring back just 19% of minutes played (1,273/6,650) and 11.9% of points scored (302/2,527) from a year ago, some of the lowest amounts in the nation.

Players to watch:

- 6'8 Edoardo Del Cadia: four starts last year and tallied 3.9 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. Played 35 minutes against Toledo and finished with 7 pts, 6 rbs.

- 6'10 Oton Jankovic: 9 pts, 4 rbs against Toledo. 

- 6'4 Jayden Stone: Australian Native shot 52% from 3 last season and 86% from the free throw line. He was 6-of-12 from the field in the season opener

- 5'10 Donovan Toatley: Not a deep threat (33% career ) but has the ability to get to the rim and finish. Scored 20 points against Toledo on 8-of-13 shooting.

- 6'3 Mak Manciel: First team JUCO All American two years ago. 


This is a game that should not be anywhere close as the UIC game. Detroit was picked to finish 9th out of 11 teams in the Horizon League and aren't a great 3 pointing team, which is typically how games like this end up being close. Look for Wes to get extended minutes out of everyone on his bench. 

Cincinnati is a 24 point favorite. I think the final margin should be in that ballpark. 

How to watch:

7:00 ESPN+


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