Photo Courtesy: UCF Athletics
By John Weis (’94)
Next UCF Opponent: Cincinnati Bearcats (15-8, 6-4 AAC)
2021-2022 Record: 18-15 (7-11 AAC)
Coach: Wes Miller (12th Season, 218-158 Overall, 2nd Season at Cincinnati, 33-23)
Last Game: 2/1 vs Tulsa (W, 81-55)
Opening Tip: 2/4 Noon EST, Fifth Third Arena, Cincinnati (TV: ESPN Plus)
Opponent at a Glance
Leading the way for the Bearcats is Memphis transfer Landers Nolley II, a 6’7” Senior. He’s averaging 15.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists a game while shooting an impressive 44.6% from deep. Next is 6’0” Senior David DeJulius (14.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 4.7 apg); followed by 6’11” Sophomore Viktor Lakhin, a native of Anapa, Russia (12.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 62.4% FG).
Other major contributors include 6’7” Junior Jeremiah Davenport (9.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.7 apg); 6’3” Junior Mika Adams-Woods (9.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.3 apg); 6’6” Freshman Dan Skillings Jr (4.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg); and 6’9 Junior Ody Oguama (3.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg).
The Bearcats snapped a two-game losing skid this week, defeating Tulsa in convincing fashion. Their most impressive win of this year came early in the season, as they thumped Louisville by 19 in November.
The Bearcats are averaging 76.7 points per game and are surrendering 67.5.
Cincinnati leads the all-time series 12-5. The Knights split a pair of games with the Bearcats last year, taking the second one at home in February by a 75-61 count. CJ Walker paced the Knights in scoring that day with 13, and Isaiah Adams had 12 off the bench in just 14 minutes of action.
The two teams will meet again for a second time on February 19, this time in Orlando.
The ESPN matchup predictor gives Cincinnati a 69.5 percent chance to win.
The Bearcats are rebuilding their brand that was a powerhouse in the 1990s under Bob Huggins; and later experienced a resurgence under Mick Cronin throughout most of the 2010s.
Wes Miller was hired in April 2021 to clean up the mess left behind by predecessor John Brannen, who was let go amidst some serious allegations. These included “methods of intimidation against players”; “making payment of special benefits for an unnamed player”; and “jeopardizing or disregarding the well-being, health and safety of his players”. The Bearcats are apparently satisfied with Miller’s efforts, as he’s already received a two-year contract extension that takes him through the 2028-2029 season.
Cincinnati has sent a number of great players to the NBA, dating all the way back to the days of Hall of Famer Jack Twyman, who was drafted into the NBA in 1955. Other notable Bearcat NBA alums include Kenyon Martin, Nick Van Exel and Ruben Patterson. But none of them could match “The Big O”, Oscar Robertson. The multi-talented HOF’er put together a monumental 1961-62 season in which he scored 30.8 points, grabbed 12.5 rebounds and dished out 11.4 assists per game. To this day, he is the only player in league history to average a “triple double” for a full season.
Here’s an oddity: Despite scoring 26,710 career points, Robertson never dunked in an NBA game. Why? “During one game, I had a lane to the basket and went to dunk,” Robertson said. “Some guy knocked me right into the post. It hurt enough that I never dunked again.”
John Weis is a freelance Writing/PR professional. His company, Weis Words (www.weiswords.biz) serves national clients such as advertising agencies, public relations firms and sports organizations, as well as small businesses and private individuals. A native Central Floridian and basketball enthusiast, he spent six seasons as Broadcast Coordinator for the Orlando Magic Radio Network early in his career. He graduated from UCF in 1994 with a degree in Communications and can’t wait for the Knights to move to the Big XII.