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Cincinnati escapes deficit, takes down No. 14 Illinois

November 23, 2021 at 2:07 a.m.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Cincinnati Coach Wes Miller had no idea who he was watching early on against Illinois on Monday night.

Not because he's in his first year with the Bearcats, either.

"We weren't playing our defensive principles. We weren't alert. We weren't executing offensively," Miller said.

It took two media timeouts for the Bearcats to rediscover themselves. And when they did, they mounted a big first-half charge to take a stunning halftime lead, then steadily pulled away from the No. 14 Illini for a 71-51 victory that pushed them into the championship game of the Hall of Fame Classic against the University of Arkansas.

"Sometimes you're going to get your butt kicked, that's part of college basketball," Miller said. "I don't like it but that's part of it, and if we were going to get our butt kicked, let's get it kicked our way. And I thought our guys really adjusted and we started to play the way we had the first four games of the year."

Mike Saunders Jr. scored 20 points and Jeremiah Davenport added 19 to lead the Bearcats (5-0), who went 17 of 20 from the foul line and won the battle of the boards against the bigger Illini (2-2) inside T-Mobile Center.

Kofi Cockburn, who was suspended the first three games of the season for violating NCAA rules, had 18 points and seven rebounds for the Fighting Illini (2-2). Andre Curbelo added 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting with five turnovers.

"We got off to a good start but give Cincinnati a ton of credit. They played harder than we did, which is very unacceptable for me to stomach," Illini Coach Brad Underwood said. "They were the more physical team. And I give them a lot of credit."

NO. 2 UCLA 75, BELLARMINE 62

LAS VEGAS -- Peyton Watson had 19 points, Johnny Juzang added 13 points and No. 2 UCLA beat Bellarmine in the Empire Classic.

David Singleton added 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting for the Bruins (5-0), who will face No. 1 Gonzaga in a rematch of last season's Final Four tonight. The Bulldogs won 93-90 in overtime on a buzzer-beater from Jalen Suggs.

Bellarmine (0-5) lost in double digits for the fourth time in five games and is coming off consecutive losses against the nation's top two teams. The Knights lost 92-50 at Gonzaga on Friday.

NO. 5 DUKE 107, THE CITADEL 81

DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke beat The Citadel after Bulldogs Coach Duggar Baucom collapsed on the court early in the first half and was taken to a hospital.

Baucom fell along the sideline barely a minute into the game and was taken to Duke University Hospital. The 61-year-old Baucom was conscious as he was helped out of the gym.

Freshman forward Paolo Banchero scored a career-high 28 points and Wendell Moore Jr. had 22 for Duke (6-0), which completed a five-game homestand with five double-digit victories. It was the Blue Devils' last tuneup before Friday night's clash with top-ranked Gonzaga.

Mark Williams added 14 points, Trevor Keels had 11 points and Jeremy Roach had 10 points for the Blue Devils.

The Citadel (3-2) made 18 baskets from three-point range.

NO. 10 KENTUCKY 86, ALBANY 61

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- TyTy Washington Jr. scored 20 points for the second consecutive game, Keion Brooks Jr. added 17 points and Kentucky beat Albany for its fourth consecutive victory.

The Wildcats (4-1) led throughout but played at a slower pace than usual in building a 46-35 advantage early in the second half. A few spurts, including an 8-0 run to make it 61-39 with 8:28 remaining, put the game out of reach.

De'Vondre Perry scored 18 points and Trey Hutcheson had 12 for the Great Danes (0-5), who shot 34% and made 6 of 13 from the foul line.

In other Top 25 men's games Monday, Fabian White Jr. scored 21 points and No. 12 Houston rode a dominant first half to a 70-52 win over Butler in the opening round of the Maui Invitational in Las Vegas. ... Meechie Johnson Jr. made a three-pointer with 2.3 seconds left and Ohio State beat No. 21 Seton Hall 79-76 in the Fort Myers Tip-Off in Fort Myers, Fla. Seton Hall guard Jamir Harris stole it and raced for a fast-break layup to tie it at 76-76 with 15.9 seconds left. Ohio State elected not to call a timeout and Johnson made his team's 11th three-pointer -- from NBA range. ... Colin Castleton scored 16 points, Tyree Appleby (Jacksonville) added 15 and No. 23 Florida handled California 80-60 in an opening game of the Fort Myers Tip-Off.

Print Headline: Cincinnati escapes deficit, takes down No. 14 Illinois

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