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Feb 3, 2024 9:57 pm

Cincinnati defense leads way in upset at No. 15 Texas Tech

With the national spotlight shining elsewhere, the Cincinnati Bearcats and 15th-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders didn’t garner a ton of attention, but that didn’t prevent the teams from delivering one of the more competitive games in the country Saturday.

In a contest that was never separated by more than five points over the last 31 1/2 minutes, the Bearcats snatched a 75-72 victory in Lubbock, Texas, for their second road win against a ranked Big 12 Conference opponent this season.

Simas Lukosius drove around the defense and dropped in a mid-range jump shot with 21 seconds to go for the go-ahead basket and John Newman III added an exclamation point on a fast-break slam dunk after Red Raiders guard Pop Isaacs missed a short bank shot with nine seconds to go.

Isaacs gave Texas Tech (16-5, 5-3 Big 12) a 72-71 lead with 35 seconds on the clock when he heaved up a desperation 3-pointer and buried it to beat the shot clock, the last of his 22 points.

The final flurry was emblematic of a second half when neither team could gain much separation in the defensive struggle.

Cincinnati (15-7, 4-5) led by as much as 55-50 with a 6-1 run, and they gained that edge by stifling the Red Raiders’ outside shooting and finally taking advantage of their size edge to control the backboards.

Texas Tech, which lost at home for the first time this season, struggled to get open looks from 3-point range and missed 7-of-8 from beyond the arc in the second half. Isaacs’ last made shot came on a day when he struggled (5-of-19 from the floor) and was visibly frustrated at times.

With their star neutralized most of the game, the Red Raiders leaned on reserve big man Robert Jennings, who responded with a season-best 14 points and added six rebounds.

But the Bearcats had more balance, which has been their strength.

Lukosius led the way with 16 points and hit four 3-pointers, Dan Skillings Jr. tallied 14, Newman added 11 and Aziz Bandaoga logged 10 points and 10 rebounds, which helped Cincinnati claim the battle on the glass 39-35.

The Red Raiders led 37-36 at halftime after fighting back from an early 13-4 deficit. Kerwin Walton swished a 3-pointer at the 11:20 juncture of the first half to knot the score 15-15, and that began a stretch when the teams traded the lead 14 times and the score was tied on eight occasions.

– Field Level Media

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