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Mar 19, 2024 4:07 pm

No. 2 seed Cincinnati faces tested San Francisco team in NIT

John Newman III

John Newman III wasn’t sure this season would ever happen for him, and now the Cincinnati forward doesn’t want it to end.

Newman will try to keep the season alive when the second-seeded Bearcats host San Francisco in an NIT first-round game on Wednesday night.

Newman sustained a torn meniscus in his knee in the season opener last season and missed the entire campaign. Cincinnati pursued a medical redshirt so Newman could return for a sixth season of college basketball and it was granted during the offseason.

Newman has started all 34 games for the Bearcats this season, averaging 9.2 points and 5.2 rebounds to help them tie for 11th in the Big 12 Conference standings.

Cincinnati (20-14) won the first two games of the conference tournament, including a 72-52 victory over sixth-seeded Kansas in the second round, before losing to third-seeded Baylor in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

“It’s been a lot of joy, man,” Newman said. “Coming from last year and that place that I was in, just being with this team, it’s been super refreshing for me. It’s been the most fun I had playing basketball my whole career. We’re not done yet. It is coming to an end, but we’re not done yet.”

Cincinnati coach Wes Miller said Newman has become the face of the Bearcats because of the way he gives 100 percent every time he’s on the floor.

Other players have followed his lead.

“The way this group fights, the way they respond, they’re incredibly selfless,” Miller said. “They just want to win. Of course, they all have individual aspirations, but they’ve all made sacrifices to try to win.”

San Francisco (23-10) finished third in the West Coast Conference behind two teams that finished the season in the AP Top 25, Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga.

The Dons then lost to Gonzaga for the third time this season in the semifinals of the conference tournament on March 11.

“I’m happy with the trajectory of where we’re headed,” San Francisco coach Chris Gerlufsen said. “Did we achieve everything we talked about before the year? No, we didn’t, but we’re in a really good spot. I know our guys are extremely excited. I’m just happy as a coach to have a few more days with our guys and really enjoy the experience with them.”

–Field Level Media

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