"It was an ugly game on both sides," said OU head coach Jeff Capel. "Neither team could make a shot. I don't know if that was good defense or just really bad offense, but it was an ugly game."
In fact, neither team netted more than one field goal for the first 4:48, as each had only a basket and a pair of free throws during that time span.
After that, however, even though it was a defensive struggle, the Bearcats really dictated the tempo of the game.
The Sooners led only once—they were up 4-2 in the early stages—but besides that and from that point on, they were chasing from behind.
Cincy extended its lead to as much as 11 in the first half when guard Dion Dixon hit a free throw to make it 26-15.
A lot of building that lead, though, was thanks to some Sooner turnovers.
"At times it was, maybe we had a mental letdown," Capel said. "One of the things we've tried to work on all week and really talked about is being mentally tougher, and at different points of the game I didn't think we did a good job of that tonight."
One part when they did was late in the first half and early in the second.
OU closed the final 3:37 of the first with a 6-2 run to make it a seven point deficit at 28-21 at intermission.
The Sooners cut into it even further in the second half, using a 5-0 spurt to start and make it only 28-27.
Their defense allowed them to have a chance to get on the high side.
"We did a good job, look we did a good job defensively," Capel said.
But in three tries to take the lead, they came up empty each time.
Following the Bearcats' next bucket, OU never got that close again, trailing by as much as 12 down the stretch.
The biggest storyline of this game was the poor shooting, really on both sides, but especially by the Sooners, who shot only 33.3 percent from the field.
Sooner guard Cade Davis was the worst of that, going only 1-for-10 from the field, including 0-for-5 from behind the arc, and just 5-for-9 from the charity stripe where he's normally very reliable, on his way to seven points.
"Yeah, I mean, I'm not too happy when I miss a lot of shots like that," Davis said. "You know, [it's] not that I'm not getting my points, just that I'm not helping my team out, especially when I have open looks like I did tonight."
As a unit, OU was only 18.2 percent from 3-point range, making 4-of-22.
"It wasn't too difficult to get shots," Davis said. "We got good shots. We just didn't knock them down. I don't think we'll have another game where we shoot this bad."
Cincy actually finished worse from deep at 17.6 percent, but it shot 42 percent from the field overall.
"Coming back in the second half [after foul trouble] I tried to come in and be a presence in the middle," Gates said. "I wanted to draw attention."
He did just that, as a part of dropping OU's record to 5-6 overall with three more non-conference games before Big 12 play opens up against Texas A&M.
OU next hits the hardwood against Sacramento State at 7 p.m. CT Tuesday at Lloyd Noble Center.