Huge win. Biggest win of the last two seasons for the Cincinnati Bearcats hands down. Cincinnati stormed into Louisville Thursday night hot on a 12 game winning streak looking to extend their streak to 13, and they would. A classic down to the wire saw the Bearcats prevail 69-66 in a statement win that should certainly silence the doubters now.
Cincinnati came into the game as 9.5 point underdogs, that would change quickly as the Bearcats jumped out to an early lead. The first half started off slow, by the first TV timeout five minutes into the game Cincinnati led 8-3. Not a high scoring performance but Shaq Thomas and Sean Kilpatrick helped push the Bearcats to the lead. Halfway through the first half Cincinnati was up 13-7, not exactly a barn burner but definitely an exhibition of defense.
The Bearcats had a 14 point lead with two minutes left in the first half, their largest lead so far. The Bearcats would go scoreless though over the last 2:47 of the first half. The first half saw the Bearcats come out hyped up. Shaq Thomas was flying through the air, Sean Kilpatrick was leading the team and Justin Jackson looked 100% dominating the boards and playing some great defense leading the Bearcats to a 28-20 lead at the half.
In the second half the Bearcats came out hot opening their lead up to 15 points thanks to threes from Kilpatrick and Ge’Lawn Guyn. With a 40-25 lead the Bearcats looked to be sitting pretty but this is Louisville. The Cardinals came storming back towards the middle of the second half. Montrezl Harrell was a monster in the paint for the Cardinals, knocking down jumpers and putting in the layups he single handily kept Louisville in the game.
Following the game Bearcats head coach said this about the calls and playing in Louisville
“I know I’ve got about 50 text messages from people saying they (refs) tried to steal it from us. I told our guys, you are going to have to win on your own, we won’t get calls, they will make a run.” Coach Cronin told WLW.
In the waning minutes of the game a missed three pointer by the Cardinals Luke Hancock allowed for a Kilpatrick rebound which led to a Kilpatrick missed jumper thankfully Justin Jackson and his perfectly fine ankle were there for the rebound and the tip in shot which put the Bearcats into the lead and sent the Bearcats bench and section into hysteria. Following that Louisville would wait until the final 8.9 seconds to foul. When they did foul they fouled Kilpatrick who was perfect from the line. Kilpatrick knocked down four free throws over the last 8 seconds to secure a 69-66 win for the Bearcats.
Kilpatrick led the Bearcats in scoring again with 28 points while Jackson led in blocks (9) and steals (2) to help the Bearcats knock off the Cardinals in what is surely a shock to basketball fans around the country.
The Bearcats return home to Fifth Third Arena this Sunday (2/2) against the South Florida Bulls at noon on CBSSN.