University of Cincinnati men's basketball coach Wes Miller opened his postgame news conference Wednesday by saluting former Bearcats football coach Luke Fickell. Miller said he was sad Sunday when he learned Fickell was leaving to take over the football program at Wisconsin.
"He made a ton of efforts when I first got here to reach out to me and build a relationship with me and give me good, genuine advice," Miller said. "I'll never forget that, I'll always value that, and he'll be a friend forever as far as I'm concerned. I'll miss having him around."
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Three days after Fickell's departure, Miller and his Bearcats returned to Fifth Third Arena for their first game since their five-day trip to Hawaii for last week's Maui Invitational. David DeJulius scored a game-hgh 22 points to lead the Bearcats to an 86-60 win over the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
DeJulius shot 9-for-15 from the field, including 4-for-8 from 3-point range.
"This is my first time where at the beginning of the year I'm at the top of the scouting report," said the preseason second-team All-American Athletic Conference selection. "You get guys' defensive coverages, especially on the ball screens. So, I dove into film a lot. Coach also designed a lot of sets that put me in position to be successful."
Landers Nolley II scored 18 points, Mika Adams-Woods added 11 and Viktor Lakhin chipped in with 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Bearcats (5-3), who outrebounded the Highlanders 40-22, including a 14-4 advantage on the offensive glass.
NJIT (1-6) led for all of one minute early in the first half.
With the game tied at 21 apiece inside the 8:00 mark in the opening period, the Bearcats created some space with a 12-0 run thanks to a spark by fifth-year forward Kalu Ekipe off the bench. The Old Dominion transfer scored on a quick hookshot and then hauled in a defensive rebound that led to a stepback jumper by DeJulius. The graduate guard then knocked down a 3-pointer following a NJIT turnover.
Cincinnati converted nine first-half turnovers by the Highlanders into 14 points and led 45-31 at the break. DeJulius led all scorers with 13 at intermission.
The Bearcats grew their led to as many as 22 (57-35) in the second half before the HIghlanders cut it to 14 (63-49) with 8:00 to play. But Cincinnati surged ahead with a dunk by Lakhin, a 3 by Nolley and a layup by Rob Phinisee, who scored seven points.
NJIT has two CIncinnati natives on their roster in freshmen guards Paul McMillan IV (Woodward Career Technical High School) and Tre Munson (Cincinnati College Prep Academy before transferring to Pro Holmes Sports Academy in Florida). McMillan finished with three points in 15 minutes, while Munson did not play.
HIghlanders senior forward and leading scorer Miles Coleman did not travel with the team after being suspended for punching an opposing player below the belt in a loss Sunday against Wagner. Coleman entered the night averaging a team-high 17.8 points per game.
Cincinnati will be back at Fifth Third Arena on Sunday to take on Bryant (7-1). Tipoff is scheduled for noon on ESPN+. It will the first game of a men's-women's doubleheader. The Bearcats women's team will host University of Illinois at Chicago at 3 p.m.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati basketball: Bearcats defeat NJIT