The Cincinnati Bearcats not only avenged the embarrassing 26-20 Bearcat Football loss to the USF Bulls earlier this year but also improved to a perfect 6-0 in AAC play while continuing to ride their 10-game win streak. For the first time since 2005–and the first in the Mick Cronin era–the Bearcats are flying back from Sun Dome Arena with a victory. That hurt to write.
As of late, seemingly every meeting in Tampa between the two schools has been a painful, slow-paced sludge match. The Bearcats looked to break from this trend early on as they opened the game with an impressive offensive performance, firing 3-4 from the field and opening a 9-2 lead. Following a 10-point lead for the Bearcats midway through the 1st half, poor transition defense, early Justin Jackson foul trouble, and USF’s switch to a zone defense brought the game back to the slow crawl of USF conference play we’ve grown to hate over the years. The strong Bearcat start quickly faded with a smaller, Justin Jackson-less lineup which allowed a 7-1 USF run to cut the lead. Several minutes later, what was a 10-point Bearcat lead was now a tie game. However, back-to-back threes from Gelawn Guyn helped maintain the 30-26 Bearcat lead into the half. Despite the small lead over a significantly less talented team into the half, Shaquille Thomas proved invaluable in the first half. The Shaq Attack was 3-4 from the field, 4-4 from the line, and was the first Bearcat in double-digit figures.
The 2nd half opened much like the first: a strong offensive showing from the Bearcats accompanied by a lead that just seemed to fade away. The Bulls found the key to the Bearcat defense in the form of the midrange jumper. This accompanied with poor offensive and defensive rebounding from the Bearcats were what really made it difficult to maintain a sizable lead throughout the game. For the first time I can remember in recent history, the Bearcats were out-rebounded 36-30 with only 7 of those being offensive boards. Like the 1st half, the Bearcats were again bailed out by back-to-back threes from Troy Caupain and Jermaine Sanders and never looked back. The Bearcats finished the game shooting 0.429 and 7-19 from behind the arc (0.368) while holding the Bulls to 0.392 from the floor to complete a 10-game win streak and move to 17-2 overall in a 61-54 Bearcat win.
Sean Kilpatrick finished with a game-high 18 points (7-17 FG, 2-9 3PT) and moved into the #5 slot for most points in Cincinnati Basketball history. Killin’ it.
The Bearcats look to extend their 10-game win streak when they take on the Central Florida Knights on Thursday in the friendly confines of Fifth-Third Arena. Stay tuned to Cincy On The Prowl in the coming days for the full preview! #RollCats