Mar 14, 2014; Memphis, TN, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Mick Cronin during the first half against the Connecticut Huskies in the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference college basketball tournament at FedEx Forum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bearcats Eliminated By UConn Huskies In AAC Semifinals In Heartbreaking Fashion

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It was sitting on the rim. It was sitting on the rim.

Down 58-56 with the ball in their senior leader Sean Kilpatrick’s hands, Cincinnati literally came within millimeters of tying the game and sending it to overtime. How close exactly? This close.

 

 

 

That was a heartbreaker, everyone, moreso than any other loss this season. But it arguably never should have gotten to that point. Unlike in the previous matchups with UConn, Cincinnati was getting meaningful contributions from players not named Sean Kilpatrick. Justin Jackson and Jermaine Sanders each had 10 and Shaq Thomas had 8. The Bearcats as a whole were stepping up offensively. But they weren’t getting nearly as much as they should have from Kilpatrick. The senior averages almost 21 points per game but got just 14 tonight. He was held under double-digits up until the final few possessions and went to the free throw line for the first time 39:18 into the game. In the past when Kilpatrick struggles from the field, like in early January of this season, he makes up for it at the stripe. Not so tonight. Kilpatrick shot just two freebies against UConn.

Additionally the defense failed miserably from beyond the arc. The Huskes answered Cincinnati made shots time and time again with clutch threes. They hit 7 on the evening and shot 54% from there tonight. UConn is an excellent offensive team but the Bearcats had stifled them in their previous two matchups this year. UC didn’t display the same defensive focus tonight.

So Cincinnati has been eliminated from the AAC Tournament but do have a regular season championship to their name. And that’s an accomplishment that should be celebrated. Plus the Bearcats are in line to get their name called on Selection Sunday. They should be a 3 or 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. We’ll find out their matchup in a couple of days.

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