McCollum scores 16, No. 15 Oklahoma holds off Cincinnati 69-65

The Associated Press - January 21, 2024 8:23 am

By JEFF WALLNER Associated Press

CINCINNATI (AP) — Javian McCollum scored 16 points and Otega Oweh added 14 to help No. 15 Oklahoma beat Cincinnati 69-65 on Saturday.

John Hugely IV had 11 points for the Sooners (15-3, 3-2 Big 12) who earned their first conference road win.

“It was a gritty game,” Sooners coach Porter Moser said. “We made a bunch of big plays down the stretch, and so did they. A lot of things went into winning a game against a team that good.”

Simas Lukosius scored 17 points and John Newman III had 14 for the Bearcats (13-5, 2-3).

“I’m disappointed in how we performed,” said Bearcats coach Wes Miller. “It was a two-possession game. If we had won, I would still be disappointed.”

Oweh’s dunk gave Oklahoma a 65-58 lead with about 2 minutes left before the Bearcats’ scored the next four points to close to 65-62 on Josh Reed’s free throws with 28.7 seconds left. Oweh then missed the front end of a one-and-one giving Cincinnati the ball with 14.7 remaining.

The Sooners chose to foul Lukosius with 6 seconds left and he made one of two from the line. Rivaldo Soraes was then fouled and hit both free throws to seal the win.

Oklahoma went 16 of 18 from the free throw line, and 4 of 4 in the closing seconds.

“Huge clutch free throws that those guys made down the stretch,” Moser said.

Both teams had a poor shooting start, combining to go 9 for 35 (25%) in the first 12 minutes.

“First time it’s happened all year for us,” Moser said. “We just stayed the course. Continued to be physical.”

There were nine lead changes and four ties before the Sooners began to take control in the second half.

McCollum’s layup gave Oklahoma its largest lead, 55-46.

McCollum battled through an ankle injury that caused him to leave the game briefly in the second half to have it taped.

Oklahoma won the rebounding battle 41-34 and 13-12 on the offensive end against a Cincinnati team that had outrebounded its opponents by nearly 11 per game.

The Sooners had 17 second-chance points.

“We just tried to be relentless,” Moser said. “For our guys, we were absolutely trying to do everything to get two hands on the ball. We were trying to get some extra possessions.”

“That’s what we should be doing to people,” Miller said.

The Bearcats lead the all-time series 4-3. They had won the previous four meetings, most recently in 2011.


Saturday’s loss was another missed opportunity for the Bearcats in their inaugural Big 12 season. They won at then-No. 12 BYU, but have since lost to Texas, Baylor, and Oklahoma by a combined eight points.

“It’s been tough, but it’s what we signed up for,” Newman III said. “It’s just the nature of our league. It’s going to be bangers every night.”

Cincinnati has a tight turnaround before playing at No. 3 Kansas on Monday night.


Oklahoma: The Sooners have relied heavily on 3-point shooting this season, shooting 30.4% or lower in each of their three losses. Oklahoma is 11-1 when making more 3-pointers than their opponents. The Sooners shot 31% on Saturday, making two fewer attempts than Cincinnati.


Oklahoma hosts Texas on Tuesday.


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