Cincinnati opens Maui Invitational Monday with No. 12 Arizona

David Cohen

David Cohen

Director / Strategic Brand Engagement

LAHAINA, Hawaii — The Cincinnati men’s basketball team faces a tropical business trip that ends Monday night at 11:30 p.m. ET (6:30 HT) against No. 12 Arizona.

The Bearcats, who arrived Saturday afternoon for their five-day stint, face either Ohio State or San Diego State on Tuesday, followed by Texas Tech, Louisville, Creighton or Arkansas on Wednesday.

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Cincinnati shot 53.3 percent from the field and held a four-point lead at halftime but hit an offensive wall in the second round for their first loss of the season, 64-51, at Horizon League favorites NKU on Wednesday night. UC was overtaken for the first time this season, but the Bearcats still have a plus-10.5 lead on the season after being minus 0.3 last year. head coach WesMiller has also used his sophomore squad to create a fuller press that has forced four 10-second offenses in as many games.

David DeJulius, the first AAC Player of the Week, leads UC with 18.3 ppg, including an 8-for-15 (.533) clip from deep. He also has just three 110-minute turnovers with 957 points over the course of his career (13.0 ppg as a Bearcat), including a 24- and 25-point game against top-15 Arkansas and Houston last season. Victor Lakhin also finished a point and rebound behind his second double-double in four games earlier in the season. Rob Phiniseeone of several reserves tasked with filling the injured John Newman III invaluable backfield lead and defense, ranks 19th nationally on an assist-turnover ratio of 6.50. Lander’s Nolley II (14.0 ppg) is one of many Hawaii-connected Bearcats to make the 2019 All-Maui team (19.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg for Virginia Tech).

Cincinnati is looking to repeat history from last year when they defeated No. 14 Illinois 71-51 in Kansas City in their fifth game of the season (Nov. 22). Should Arizona make the top-10 by gameday, UC would seek its first win over a top-10 team since No. 10 Florida State in the second round of the 2011 NCAA tournament.

Cincinnati is making its second trip to the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, the last coming in 2009. The Bearcats defeated No. 24 Vanderbilt and No. 21 Maryland before losing to Gonzaga in the title game.

Yancy Gates was UC’s top performer, averaging 14.7 points and 10.0 rebounds. Eventual BIG EAST Freshman of the Year Lance Stephenson posted a game-high 15 points against the Zags.

This is Cincinnati’s sixth trip to Hawaii, with a three-city 9-6 overall record. Its 1999 Big Island Invitational (Hilo), where it swept its three-game set, came in at No. 1 in the country. UC also played at the 1975, 1989 and 1994 Rainbow Classics in Honolulu.

Lander’s Nolley II has achieved the rare status of being a repeat visitor to the Maui Invitational and has a formidable resume and experience to offer.

A 2019-20 redshirt freshman at Virginia Tech, Nolley averaged 19.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game to earn All-Maui Invitational honors. His 22 points in the opening win over No. 3 Michigan State included a three-pointer in the last minute that gave him a four-point lead.

Mueller and Mike Roberts, former teammates at New Hampton Prep in New Hampshire, have both won titles as players at the Maui Invitational. Roberts’ 2002 Indiana team defeated UMass, Gonzaga and Virginia, while Miller’s 2004 North Carolina team led BYU, Tennessee and Iowa before eventually winning the national championship.

student in the first year Sage Tolentino 7ft 1 stature befits him for the tallest player in program history. Others last year include Hayden Koval, Chris Vogt (2019-21) and David Nyarsuk (2012-14). However, Tolentino is the only one to start his career with the Bearcats.

Tolentino, a native of Kane’ohe, Hawaii, is also looking forward to his return to the Maui Invitational. Along with Ohio State’s Judge Sueing (Cal, 2017), he is the first Hawaiian on a mainland team in the field since Joshua Ko in Pittsburgh in 2014.