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Second-half burst carries Cincinnati past Evansville

second-half-burst-carries-cincinnati-past-evansville

Simas Lukosius keyed a 26-4 second-half outburst and finished with 15 points as the host Cincinnati Bearcats rallied past the short-handed Evansville Purple Aces 76-58 Friday night.

John Newman III led Cincinnati (11-2) with 16 points, while Yacine Toumi collected 17 points and nine rebounds to pace Evansville (10-3). Kenny Strawbridge added 14 points for the Purple Aces.

The Bearcats wiped out an eight-point halftime deficit by outscoring Evansville 44-18 in the second half.

Evansville took the court without top scorer Ben Humrichous (16.3 points per game) and Chuck Bailey III (10.7 ppg), both sitting out with injuries.

Despite those absences, the Aces, led by Toumi’s 13 points in the first half, still found a way to silence the partisan Bearcats crowd early.

Cincinnati was also short-handed as big man Aziz Bandaogo missed his third straight game with a back injury, while CJ Fredrick sat out with a hamstring injury.

Lukosius Simas returned after missing a game because he was struck by a car on the Cincinnati campus on Nov. 30.

Evansville used a tenacious defense to pressure the ball, forcing six turnovers in the first half and holding Cincinnati scoreless for over four minutes late in the period. In that span, Evansville ran off 10 straight points to take a 38-29 lead.

As Cincinnati coach Wes Miller called timeout, the crowd booed the Bearcats. They also booed the Bearcats off the court as the team went to the locker room trailing 40-32 at the half. Toumi made a short step-back jumper to open the second half and give Evansville its biggest lead, 42-32, just 16 seconds into the second half.

From that point, Cincinnati took control, thanks to defense and 3-point shooting.

With under 12 minutes left, Lukosius drained a trey in transition, his fourth triple in five attempts. Josh Reed added another 3-pointer on the next possession, and Cincinnati took a 57-46 lead.

Meanwhile, Evansville went over 10 minutes without a field goal as Cincinnati built its lead up to 12 at 58-46.

The win was Cincinnati’s first over Evansville since the last meeting between the two schools on Nov. 9, 2021. That night, the Bearcats prevailed 65-43 in Wes Miller’s first game as Cincinnati head coach.

It was the final nonconference game for both schools. Cincinnati opens its first-ever Big 12 season on Jan. 6 against BYU, in Provo, Utah, while Evansville travels to Terre Haute, Ind., on Wednesday to resume Missouri Valley Conference play against Indiana State.

–Field Level Media

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