Cincinnati Basketball: Bearcats open regular season with 69-58 win over Illinois-Chicago

Cincinnati Bearcats host Illinois-Chicago Flames at Fifth Third Arena in 2023.
Cincinnati Bearcats host Illinois-Chicago Flames at Fifth Third Arena in 2023. /

Cincinnati Bearcats opened the inaugural season in the Big 12 with a 69-58 win over the Illinois-Chicago Flames on Monday night at Fifth Third Arena!

Despite struggling to shoot from outside, Cincinnati was able to create plenty of turnovers and dominate the paint en route to pulling away in the second half.

The Bearcats were led by three double digit scorers as CJ Fredrick, Daniel Skillings Jr and DaVeon Thomas combined for 39 points and 13 rebounds in the win.

Wes Miller’s team got off to a relatively slow start before taking a 40-30 lead into the locker room and eventually securing a solid win to tip off the season.

Cincinnati Basketball: Bearcats open the regular season with 69-58 win

After transferring to the Bearcats in the offseason, Thomas shined in his debut with a team-high 15 points and three assists including a fastbreak dunk.

Cincinnati held a single digit lead for most of the first half until a 9-0 run created separation, capped off by a fastbreak layup from Skillings to force a timeout.

Skillings scored 13 points and eight rebounds in 28 minutes off the bench, and Fredrick added 11 points and two board on 3/6 shooting from beyond the arc.

There is still a lot of room for improvement as the Bearcats hope to find a rhythm from the perimeter and protect the rim at a high level moving forward.

Cincinnati Basketball: Wes Miller reacts to the Bearcats win in press conference

Cincinnati is scheduled to return to action against the Detroit Mercy Titans on Friday evening before taking on the Eastern Washington Eagles on Sunday.

During the postgame press conference, Miller broke down the season-opening outing and his thoughts on the Bearcats victory per Cincinnati Athletics.

"“Everybody in that locker room puts a lot into this and sacrifices a lot so the first thing I said is enjoy it. A lot goes into this and we’re hard on these guys. I’m going to let them enjoy the win because they got the first one under their belt. I’m proud and happy about that. I’m going to be positive on the first night but when it hits midnight, I’m going to be negative because we have a lot to work on. We’re going to be a good shooting team. There were good looks but just didn’t go, especially in the second half. I wasn’t pleased with our rebounding. I think this has to be a great rebounding team. We showed that we have the ability to do it in the preseason.”"

Next. Cincinnati Basketball: Bearcats attempt to open the regular season on a positive note. dark