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Three Man Weave: Bearcats Roll Past Presbyterian 79-45

Wes Miller is one of three UC coaches to start their Bearcat career 4-0

CINCINNATI — The Bearcats sealed up a historic start to the Wes Miller era in their 79-45 demolition of Presbyterian. Miller is now the first coach to start their Cincinnati tenure 4-0 since Tay Baker in 1965-66.

Miller's team struggled in the first half against Alabama A&M on Tuesday. Thursday was a different story. All 13 Bearcats to enter the game scored and UC held the Blue Hose to 28.8% shooting from the field and just 2-for-15 from three point range.

The Bearcats started 3-for-11, but as has been the case all season long, their defense stifled the opponent. Cincinnati outpaced Presbyterian 22-3 from 14:25 to 7:20 in the first half to give them a 27-9 lead. They never looked back across the program's largest victory since a 105-49 slamming of Arkansas Pine Bluff in 2018.

Here is the Three Man Weave on a stamping performance from the Bearcats four-game opening homestand.

Davenport Drives Consistency

Many analysts projected Jeremiah Davenport as the Bearcats' best player this season, and he's meeting those expectations. Davenport—like most of UC's roster on Thursday night—was hyper-efficient against Presbyterian.

The junior played 15 minutes and scored a season-high 16 points on 50% shooting. Davenport handled the ball plenty but recorded just one turnover and added three rebounds. He feels like a luxury on a team playing with midseason-discipline four games into the season.

Davenport leads the team in scoring through four games (12.5 points per game), and normally a team with just two players averaging double figures would be an eyesore, but not Cincinnati. They are getting production from every player in the rotation.

“I think it's really important because it is what is going to make us different as a team," Miller said in his postgame press conference. "It’s what is going to give us a chance to be a successful team. We really do have 12 rotation-type players on our team right now...and that can be a strength. Guys have to embrace that, and not everybody, especially in 2021 college basketball are willing to do that. So to have a locker room full of guys that are willing to embrace sitting a little bit...that’s pretty rare, and I hope we can build upon that because if we can build on that it can be a huge strength for the team."

10 rostered players are averaging at least 13 minutes per game this season. Miller sent a message this offseason that he wants to play a deep bench to drive competition and reduce injury risk. The idea is working for the most part four games in.

Ado Bids Adieu

Abdul Ado struggled to find his footing over the first three games of the season. Then he decided to throw a block party at Fifth Third Arena. The Nigeria-native finished with four points, five blocks, and two steals in 13 minutes.

The rejections were part of a season-high 11 total blocks from the Bearcats, and all of them came in a suffocating second half. When Ado is firing on all cylinders, this frontcourt is one of the scariest in the nation. All five of the transfer's blocks came in the second half, helping anchor a stretch from 9:23 to 1:47 in the second half where Presbyterian didn't make a field goal.

“I just think that it's been a little process again he’s had some injuries," Miller said. "Nothing to keep him from playing, just the kind of stuff that's frustrating. Then he’s trying to fit in a new system...[Ado] is a creature of habit, and he mastered the system over there at Mississippi State...It was good to see him come out and make some plays tonight.”

Viktor Lahkin (10 points, three rebounds, one steal) cramped up at the end of the first half, but Hayden Koval (five points, two rebounds, two blocks) and Ado gladly picked up the slack. Miller is working with one of the oldest rosters in the country; that experience is showing through. Ado displayed it best on Thursday.

Class Up In Competition

The Bearcats have been one of the most dominant teams in the country through four games. They rank 33rd nationally in average scoring margin (plus-21 PPG) and 25th in second-half differential (plus-11 PPG).

The undefeated start is historic—but any loss over this stretch would've been disappointing. Cincinnati's four opponents currently average a 240.5 KenPom ranking. There aren't doubts against lesser opponents, but the Bearcats travel to Kansas City, Mo, this weekend. That's when the real tests begin.

The Bearcats performance against Presbyterian pushed them up to No. 98 in KenPom. Cincinnati battles No. 6 on Monday when they take on the Illinois Fighting Illini. Center Kofi Cockburn missed their shocking 67-66 loss at Marquette this week but is expected back for the game against Cincinnati.

After that, it's the winner of Kansas State/Arkansas who rank 84th and 22nd in KenPom. Cincinnati has only faced lesser teams so far this season. We'll see if they can keep the momentum rolling in Missouri.

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