In the first game of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden the Cincinnati Bearcats squared up against the Pittsburgh Panthers in an old Big East rematch. Cincinnati was losers of their last two games coming into Tuesday night while Pitt entered the game with a 10-0 record.
Cincinnati came back with a game winning bucket with 4 seconds remaining in the game to taint the Panthers perfect record. A 44-43 win game behind quite possibly the ugliest basketball game either team has played fundamentally in the last 5 years.
In the first half both teams scored on 20 points a piece. Pittsburgh has an 8 minute draught in the first half, Cincinnati managed only 20 points. In the second half Pitt has a 13 minute draught, they failed to score for essentially an entire half yet still kept the game close. Cincinnati meanwhile continued to unsuccessfully shoot the ball, shooting under 38% in the game.
The Bearcats were led by senior Justin Jackson with 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists. Senior “leader” Sean Kilpatrick regularly averages 19.3 points per game, however Tuesday night Kilpatrick scored only 9 points and 6 rebounds. Cincinnati was plagued by poor shot selections from Titus Rubles and Shaq Washington. Rubles scored the game winning shot off a Sean Kilpatrick missed shot, a very missed shot. Rubles took bad looks all night going 3-9 from the floor, yet made it when it counted.
Pittsburgh came into the game with an average margin of victory of 21 points. They failed to score 21 points in a half, Cincinnati’s defense stifled the Pitt offense all night. Pitt was led by senior Talib Zanna with his 12 points, he was followed closely behind by senior Lamar Patterson who had 11.
Where Cincinnati fails on offense they make up for it on defense. Mick Cronin attacked his team for a lack of toughness after the Xavier loss, they aren’t weak by any means. What this team lacks is shooting, you can not win every game from points in the paint. That is holding the Bearcats back at the moment.
Cincinnati has won both of their games over ACC opponents this season. After two disappointing losses to New Mexico and Xavier this win should be a spirit lifter for the Bearcats.
Cincinnati returns to the court Saturday at 2pm ET against Middle Tennessee State at Fifth Third Arena.