Cincinnati Bearcats men’s basketball team opens up the 2019-20 college basketball season with a trip to Columbus to face the Ohio State Buckeyes on Wednesday November 6th. It will be the 12th all-time meeting between the schools (9th regular season).
12 games is not a very extensive history for two schools that are so close to one another. But the series history is still significant, as the two biggest wins in Bearcats basketball history came against Ohio State. The recent history, since 2006, has not favored the Bearcats.
The Early Days
From 1905-1921, these teams met six times total, with Ohio State holding a 4-2 edge. Ohio State won 35-13 on January 3, 1920, in what was the last meeting between the two schools in Cincinnati until last season. 13 points? Mick Cronin’s ancestor was apparently the head coach back in the ‘20s.
November 6th will be the first game in Columbus since 1921 and Cincinnati won that won 33-17.
Between 1921 and 2006, there were no scheduled regular season games. And no on campus games until 2018-2019.
The Bearcats have won two National Championships - both against Ohio State, in 1961 and 1962, respectively. Amazingly for Cincinnati, these championships came in the years immediately following the legendary Oscar Robertson’s graduation.
- 1961 - Cincinnati beat Ohio State 70-65
- 1962 - Cincinnati won again 71-59
Coming into the 1961 championship game, the Buckeyes were the defending national champions and clear favorites for a repeat, coming into the game with a 27-0 record. The Buckeyes roster included Hall of Famers Jerry Lucas, who led all scorers in this game with 27 points, and John Havlicek and the well known Bobby Knight, who came off the bench.
For Cincinnati, 4 of the 5 starts scored double digits, with Bob Wiesenhahn leading the way with 17 points and 9 rebounds. The other scorers were Carl Bouldin (16), Tom Thacker (15), and Tony Yates (13). The other starter was Paul Hogue, who scored 9 points.
Cincinnati won again the following year, with Paul Hogue dominating with championship game for the Bearcats, leading the way with 22 points and 19 rebounds. Tom Thacker scored 21 points and Tony Yates had 12.
2006 Regular Season
It truly is incredible that the two most prominent basketball schools in Ohio could go 98 years without playing at one’s school. Even more incredible that they went 85 years without any type of scheduled game or tournament game.
The regular season game in 2006 was pretty much a joke, as the team’s took part in the Wooden Tradition Classic in Indianapolis. It was a joke because this was Mick Cronin’s first year at Cincinnati and he was fielding a team with one four-year scholarship player. The rest of the team was filled with hard-playing, heart-filled junior college transfers and a football player (Connor Barwin). That team finished 11-19, and the 11 wins were actually impressive given the limited talented on the roster.
The Buckeyes cruised to a 72-50 victory, which wasn’t really that close. #1 draft pick Greg Oden has 14 points and 11 rebounds and Mike Conley had 8 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists. John Williamson led the way for Cincinnati with 17 points and 16 rebounds. The one four year player I mentioned, freshman Deonta Vaughn, shot just 2-11 from the floor (0-4 from three) scoring 5 points. Connor Barwin scored 2 points on 1-5 shooting and grabbed 3 rebounds.
2012 Sweet 16
Cincinnati had made the NCAA Tournament 9 straight years, dating back to their first appearance under Mick Cronin in 2011. The knock on Cronin and the Bearcats was their lack of tournament wins, with just one appearance in the second weekend during this run. That appearance came in 2012, and Cincinnati’s season ended in an 81-69 Ohio State victory in the Sweet 16 of the 2012 NCAA tournament.
That Buckeyes team would go on to advance to the Final Four (and lose to Kansas). Jared Sullinger had 23 points, 11 rebounds Deshaun Thomas led all scorers with 24 points and the ever annoying Aaron Craft has 11 points, 5 assists, 6 steals, 4 rebounds in a very impressive performance.
Cincinnati got everything they could out of a team that ran out of gas in the end. After beating Texas and Florida State to get there, Buckeyes were too much to handle. Cashmere Wright, playing on, essentially, no knees at this point, led the team with 18 points. Sean Kilpatrick scored 15 points and Yancy Gates had 7 points, 5 rebounds.
The first regular season meeting in 98 years. First game in Cincinnati since 1920. Wow.
This was a disappointing way to open the newly renovated Fifth Third Arena and a quick reminder that Gary Clark, Kyle Washington, and Jacob Evans were not walking through that door. Buckeyes won 64-56. Cincinnati shot just 27% from the floor.
Beyond Cumberland’s 22 points, no other Bearcats player score double figures. The loss snapped a 26 game winning streak for the Bearcats at Fifth Third Arena.
As noted, this is the first meeting in Columbus since 1921.
Ohio State went 20-15 last season, ending their season in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, losing to Cincinnati rival, Houston. They enter this game ranked #18 in the first AP top 25 poll of the season.
Key Buckeyes returnees include Kaleb Wesson (who led Ohio State with 15 points) and Kyle Young, who scored 10 points, 8 rebounds. Luther Muhammad scored 11 points.
Down the Drive will have much more coverage on this game, which will be the Bearcats’ first under new head coach John Brannen and will introduce fans to a handful of new players and an exciting new, up-tempo offensive system.