Cincinnati edges Miami in first meeting since 2011

OXFORD -- Traffic was backed up trying to get into Millett Hall for Miami’s men’s basketball home game on Wednesday against Cincinnati.

That might be the first time that sentence has been written since Wally Szczerbiak played for the RedHawks in the late 1990s.

The festive, raucous crowd was treated to a taut game that ended in a 59-58 Cincinnati win, not decided until Miami almost threw the ball away in the last six seconds. Senior Dalonte Brown grabbed the loose ball and missed an off-balance shot, and senior Precious Ayah’s tip rimmed out as the buzzer sounded.

ExplorePHOTOS: Miami vs. Cincinnati

“That was a great college game,” fifth-year Miami coach Jack Owens said. “It was one we definitely wanted to win, but we came up short. We gave up too many offensive rebounds. Playing a non-conference game like that is important to help you get ready for conference games.”

Several Bearcats, reacting to obscene chants from Miami students, approached the broadcast table and shouted at the crowd before being herded by assistant coaches off the court.

Senior guard Mekhi Lairy led both teams with 20 points. Brown added 12 and junior guard Dae Dae Grant finished with 12. Brown just missed a double-double with nine rebounds.

“They just wanted it more than us, especially at the end of the game,” Lairy said. “They got two key offensive rebounds. Their big guys made it tough down there.”

The 6-2 Bearcats missed their first six free throws and eight of 10 overall, but compensated with a 48-36 advantage in rebounds to snap a two-game losing streak. The 5-2 RedHawks suffered their second consecutive loss and first in five home games.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

“Every day, we emphasize rebound, rebound, rebound,” said 6-foot-11 Abdul Ado, who led both teams with 11 rebounds. “Miami is a very good team. I’m pretty sure they’ll make it to the (NCAA) Tournament.”

“Miami is a great basketball team,” added first-year Bearcats coach Wes Miller. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in the NCAA Tournament. To beat a team like that on the road is something to be proud of.”

The midweek affair drew a crowd of 7,285, the largest to attend a Miami home game since 8,436 fans showed up to watch Miami play Ball State on Feb. 27, 1999 – Szczerbiak’s senior season.

“Hopefully, the students saw that we have a good product,” Owens said. “Hopefully, it’s something that we can build on. I think, if we can do that, it could change the program. We want to make this a place where teams find it difficult to come in and play.”

As part of a Redout effort, the RedHawks wore red uniforms they normally reserve for road games.

Wednesday also was Devin Davis Night as Miami honored one of only two players in program history to be named first-team All-Mid-American Conference three times. He was honored in the 1995, 1996 and 1997. Davis, Ron Harper and Wayne Embry are the only three Miami players to surpass 1,000 career points and rebounds. The first 1,000 of the more than 2,000 students who attended Wednesday’s game received Davis replica jerseys.

The RedHawks are scheduled to return to action Saturday at Indiana State. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m.

The Bearcats went into the game with a 94-52 lead and 13-game winning streak over Miami in the series. The teams hadn’t met since 2011 and hadn’t played in Oxford since 2010.

Neither team enjoyed an advantage of more than the eight-point lead (45-37) built by outsized Miami with 13:06 left in the second half. Cincinnati whittled away at it, tying the score at 49-49 junior guard Jeremiah Davenport’s 3-pointer with 5:46 left in the game. Davenport also gave the Bearcats the lead for good at 51-49 on a jump shot with 5:04 left in the game.

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