AP Sports Writer
CINCINNATI (AP) — Even Oscar Robertson wanted to see more of the Sean Kilpatrick show.
Hall of Famer sat courtside and watched the senior guard score 26
points and get a team-high 12 rebounds on Thursday night, rallying No. 7
Cincinnati to a 63-58 victory over No. 22 Connecticut.
Bearcats (22-2, 11-0 American Athletic) got their 15th straight win with
Kilpatrick finishing it off at the free throw line in the closing
seconds. During a late timeout, Robertson raised his hand in a shooting
motion toward Kilpatrick, who knew what he meant.
Kilpatrick's response? A "take-it-easy" motion.
"He kept giving me the signal to shoot," Kilpatrick said. "I told him to relax."
Bearcats trailed for most of the game, their first with a No. 7 ranking
that is their highest in 10 years. A crowd of 12,432 — their biggest of
the season — watched them win.
Cincinnati has won 18 straight at home, including all 16 this season. The Bearcats are off to their best start in 12 years.
what we've been hoping for," forward Titus Rubles said. "It's good to
see the city excited for Cincinnati basketball again. We definitely
enjoyed the crowd today. It was a big factor in helping us with our
Justin Jackson had six of his 15 points and blocked a
shot during a 13-4 run that rallied Cincinnati midway through the second
half. Jermaine Sanders' two free throws with 18.5 seconds left gave
Cincinnati a 61-58 lead.
UConn's Niels Giffey missed a 3-point attempt, and Kilpatrick got the rebound, was fouled and made both free throws.
mark of great players is that they rise to the occasion," Bearcats
coach Mick Cronin said. "He has the ability to rise to the occasion."
Napier scored 16 points for the Huskies (17-5, 5-4) who were playing
their highest-ranked opponent this season. They are 2-2 against Top 25
teams, with wins over Florida and Memphis and losses to Louisville and
Two hours before tip-off, Cincinnati introduced Mike
Bohn as its next athletic director. His top priority: Get the Bearcats
into a better conference. Cincinnati and Connecticut tried to move to
the Atlantic Coast Conference, but were rebuffed. Instead, Louisville
will move from the American Athletic into the ACC next season.
game matched two of the AAC's top guards. Kilpatrick leads the league
at 19.4 points per game, while Napier averages 17.9 points and 6.0
rebounds. Shabazz got the better of it early. Kilpatrick, who played all
40 minutes, rallied the Bearcats at the end.
"Justin Jackson and
Kilpatrick took over the game," UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. "It was a
heck of a performance by (Kilpatrick). We couldn't get him out of the
game. They just took it to us in the second half."
only 2 of 12 beyond the arc and missed a 3-point attempt that could have
put the Huskies ahead with 30 seconds to go.
Connecticut led for
all but 40 seconds in the first half with its guards darting through
Cincinnati's defense for layups and assists.
Ryan Boatright scored
six consecutive points as UConn pulled ahead 21-15. He fell hard on his
left shoulder while going for the ball and left the game grimacing. He
returned a few minutes later and scored only three points the rest of
Napier made a driving bank shot high off the backboard,
then drove under the basket and passed outside to Giffey for a wide-open
3-pointer that built UConn's lead to 26-18. Another 3 by Giffey gave
the Huskies a 10-point lead.
The Huskies made four of their first
six shots in the second half to hold the lead. Omar Calhoun's baseline
jumper put the Huskies ahead 42-34.
Jackson then led the Bearcats
on the 13-4 run. He emphatically blocked a shot to set up a fast break
that culminated in Kilpatrick's dunk. Jackson picked up a loose ball on
the Bearcats' next possession and dunked, then followed with a driving
bank shot for a 47-46 lead with 7:34 left.
Kilpatrick hit another 3
that started a six-point spurt and gave Cincinnati its biggest lead,
53-49. The Bearcats stayed ahead the rest of the way.