Sean Kilpatrick for the second game in a row had to lead his team down the stretch to ensure another Cincinnati Bearcats victory. He did that Sunday afternoon as the Bearcats beat the Bulls from South Florida 50-45 to extend their winning streak to 14 and their overall record to 21-2 and an undefeated 10-0 in conference.
Cincinnati hot off a gigantic win in Louisville Thursday night come out Sunday sluggish. After taking a 9-2 lead to the first TV timeout the Bearcats saw their lead shrink over the rest of the first half. Cincinnati made plenty of mental errors, fundamentally they played awful basketball. Missed shots left and right allowed the Bulls to take the lead a little under halfway through the half. Trailing 14-13 Cincinnati got their act together. A Jermaine Sanders jumper and a Kilpatrick layup helped push the Bearcats away from a tie game. Two three pointers before half from Kilpatrick and Ge’Lawn Guyn allowed the Bearcats to take a 24-18 lead into the half.
The 18 points that the Bearcats allowed in the first half was their lowest point total since holding Marquette to only 19 last season. A span of 38 games as pointed out by radio talk show host Lance McAlister. That stifling defense/poor offensive play would not last.
To start the second half Cincinnati scored 2 points in the first 6.5 minutes while the Bulls scored 9 points to take the lead at 27-26 around the 14 minute mark of the half. Following a Mick Cronin timeout Cincinnati game storming back. Titus Rubles hit three free throws and a jumper to combine with a Kilpatrick three and a Guyn jumper to give the Bearcats a 36-31 lead. Unfortunately South Florida wouldn’t give up.
South Florida clawed their way back to a 41-40 lead with under six minutes left in the game. A Titus Rubles steal and a Justin Jackson jumper gave the Bearcats the lead at 42-41 and they would never look back, thanks to 8 straight points from Kilpatrick. The final would be 50-45, certainly not what the Bearcats expected.
Kilpatrick led the team in scoring again with 18 points, Jermaine Sanders led with rebounds at 7, Jackson led in block of course with 3. Sunday was certainly nothing to write home about. Cincinnati has a lot to improve on, playing defense in the second half would be nice. Three straight games now the Bearcats have been outscored in the second half, the trend must change. Also shooting from the perimeter needs to be improved.
A win is a win though and the Bearcats appear to be destined for a top 10 ranking this week. Check back Tuesday for news on that. In the meantime Cincinnati returns to the court at Fifth Third Arena Thursday night against the UConn Huskies at 7pm ET on ESPN.