James' career high 28 leads Cincinnati past Bradley

Cincinnati (22-14) is advancing to the quarter finals of the NIT for the second consecutive year after defeating the Bradley Braves (23-12) by a final score of 74-57.

(Photos: Taylor Keeton)

"I'm really pleased with the win," Wes Miller told media following the game. "We beat a really good team, and really good program tonight." 

The Bearcats finished the game 28-of-59 from the field and 10-of-28 from deep, while limiting a good shooting Bradley team to 5-of-23 from 3-point range. 

When Cincinnati defeated San Francisco Wednesday night, it came at a price.

Junior point guard Day Day Thomas was lost for the season with a broken foot, following a career high eight assists. 

With Thomas sidelined, it was time for highly touted freshman point guard Jizzle James to make his first appearance in the Bearcats' starting lineup. 

James scored 14 first half points on 6-of-7 shooting and finished the game with a game and career high 25 points on 11-of-16 from the field, 2-of-5 from deep.

Bradley head coach Brian Wardle discussed the dynamic of changing a scout following Thomas' injury.

"Day Day is a great defender but I was scared that James was going to play more today, to be quite honest. That's because he can get going offensively and be a problem offensively, and he did today. He's a dynamic player and he can really score and that's scary."

The most important stat of the day for the freshman? 

Just one turnover in 38 minutes of action.

Miller was pleased with how James played, not only offensively, but also defensively.

"It doesn't surprise me with the opportunity given. He also had, in my opinion, his career high for how he played defensively. You can see the future he's going to have and it's really cool."

The trio of James, Skillings and Lukosius combined for 62 of the Bearcats' 74 points.

Skillings scored 17 in the second half to finish with 20 points, while Lukosius tallied 17 points, making 5-of-13 from deep.

UC was outscored in the paint, 32-26, but out-rebounded Bradley, 40-33.

Wes Miller described the feeling of his team continuing their season.

"It's great to be playing for something in late March. That's a standard we're trying to set here. Certainly everybody know we rather be playing in the NCAA (tournament) we are playing for a championship and I thought our guys came out and played with effort tonight."

"That's the standard when you put that Cincinnati jersey on."

Game Recap:

Cincinnati made 11-of-30 three-point attempts against San Francisco and buried three of their first four attempts against Bradley.

Simas Lukosius scored six points early to give the Bearcats a 12-5 lead with 15:56 left in the first half. UC outscored Bradley 12-2 over 3:24 following Duke Deen's three on Bradley's first possession. 

Cincinnati extended their lead to 19-8 at the 12:26 mark.

Bradley missed 10-of-11 field goal attempts after cutting UC's lead to 12-8 on a Malevy Leons three.

A personal 8-0 run by Connor Hickman over 1:39 cut the UC lead to 21-16 with 9:44 left in the first half.

Simas Lukosius ended the Bradley run with a three from the left wing. John Newman drove and finished through contact on the next UC possession to extend the lead back to double figures, 26-16.

At the 7:19 mark, Bradley was 6-for-20 from the field and hadn't scored in two minutes, 30 seconds.

UC would miss four straight field goal attempts and not score over the next 3:20 as Bradley cut the Bearcats' lead to 27-20 at the final media stop of the half. 

Lukosius once again ended a UC scoring drought with a three from the right wing to push the lead back to double digits. 

John Newman scored his 1,000th point on a free throw with 1:53 left in the first half and received a standing ovation from the Cincinnati faithful. Newman would finish the first half with six points, six rebounds.

Malevy Leons dunk with two seconds left in the half cut UC's lead to 36-28 after the first 20 minutes of action. 

UC opened the second half 3-of-7 from the field but extended their lead to 42-33 following a great hustle play by Dan Skillings.

Skillings missed a three-point attempt but followed his shot, grabbed the rebound, and laid it back in. Very reminiscent to the same play he made against Kansas during the Big 12 Tournament.

That play would key a 7-0 run and eight straight by Skillings as the Bearcats pushed their lead out to 50-35 with 15:06 left.

Skillings made one-of-two free throws and extended the UC lead to 54-37 with 13:36 remaining in the game. 

Bradley would answer the UC run with a 6-0 run over :54 seconds to cut UC's lead to 56-43 with 12 minutes on the clock. 

UC's lead was cut to 62-51 with 7:40 left on the clock following a Christian Davis baseline drive and finish for Bradley.

Bradley cut the UC lead to 62-53 but Jizzle James scored five straight on an and-one and jumper in the paint to push the lead back to 14.

James' played keyed a 9-0 run over the next 3:56 as UC pushed their lead out to 71-53 with 2:16 left in the game. 

Josh Reed's three with 1:03 remaining capped off the Cincinnati scoring as the Bearcats closed the game on a 12-2 run over the final 6:13 to post a 74-57 win over the Braves.

Key Stats/Notes:

- John Newman finished 2-for-6 from the field for 6 points, but pulled down nine rebounds to go with four assists. Newman struggled against San Francisco, missing all ten field goal attempts, but continued to play with confidence today and didn't let it affect other parts of his game. 

- Connor Hickman scored 12 first half points for the Braves, but was limited to just two second half points. The duo of John Newman and Dan Skillings were outstanding and made things extremely tough for Hickman with the length and physicality. 


- UC was limited to just seven offensive rebounds but turned those in to 11 second chance points against the team that finished first in the MVC in defense. Those extra opportunities helped the Bearcats keep Bradley from making a serious run to get back in the game. 

- Bradley entered the game as one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country but the Bearcats perimeter defense was able to limit the Braves to 5-of-23 from beyond the arc. UC's pressure defensively led to 16 points from 11 Bradley turnovers.

Final Thoughts:

The crowd and atmosphere inside Fifth Third Arena today was electric. The Bearcats used the early momentum of James playing well to fuel multiple runs to keep the Braves from ever seriously threatening in the second half. This team continues to respond and will need that to continue on either Tuesday or Wednesday when they will either travel to Indiana State or host Minnesota in the quarter finals of the NIT.

Jizzle James has shown flashes all season of what he is capable of. We got a serious look at what the future of Cincinnati basketball could look like with him leading the way. Thomas injury is unfortunate but having a guy like James to step in to that role is an obvious boost to Miller's lineup. 

The Bearcats will need to get more production from others, but when the trio of James, Skillings, and Lukosius play like that, UC is going to be tough to beat. 

Post Game Video:


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published