The Cincinnati Bearcats came into Gampel Pavilion on Wednesday night as one of the hotter teams in the Big East nevermind the country. The UConn Huskies were looking to stop the Bearcats momentum along with pickup their third straight win.
But that didn’t happen as the Bearcats lived and died on the three.
Sean Kilpatrick’s three-pointer with 2.7 seconds gave the Bearcats the 70-67 win over the Huskies in front of a sell-out crowd at Gampel and a national audience on ESPN2.
UConn came back from an early second deficit to take a 57-55 lead on three free throws from Jeremy Lamb. But then Cincinnati responded with a 10-0 run to take a eight point lead with 2:53 remaining in the game.
Shabazz Napier got the Huskies to within five points with a three-pointer with 1:28 to go. A Napier foul sent Dion Dixon to the line who hit one-of-two to push the lead back to six for the Bearcats. Napier missed a three and Niels Giffey fouled Kilpatrick who missed the front end of the one-and-one.
Napier brought the Huskies to within three hitting a trey with 1:04 to go. After a Dixon miss on the other end, Napier drove the lane and was fouled. He would hit one-of-two at the line to make a two-point game and would commit the foul to send Dixon to the line where he once again hit one-of-two to push the lead to three again.
During the free throw, UConn head coach Jim Calhoun set up a play so he wouldn’t have to use a timeout. It worked out for him as Napier nailed a three with 9.5 seconds left to tie the game up at 67. Unfortunately for the Huskies, Kilpatrick hit the three to silence the Gampel crowd. After timeouts by both teams, Giffey’s three quarter court shot bounced off the rim to give the Bearcats their seventh straight Big East road win.
Napier led the way for UConn with a career-high 27 points with seven assists and five rebounds. Jeremy Lamb added 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists while Giffey had 10 points and six rebounds.
Kilpatrick paced the Bearcats with 16 points as he was one of five that scored in double-digits for the victors. Cashmere Wright had 13 points and a team-high five assists while Yancy Gates had a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Dion and JaQuon Parker both had 12 points.
After winning two straight, the Huskies fall to 14-4 (4-3 Big East). The Bearcats, who are unranked, improve to 15-4 (5-1).
When Gates got into foul trouble in the first half, Cincinnati went to a four guard lineup and the Huskies had no answers for it. The Bearcats had seven threes in the first half as UConn’s defense was out of sync.
The Huskies would get that defense in order in the second half and that’s what got them back in the game before the decisive 10-0 run by Cincinnati.
Tough loss for the Huskies who were playing their second straight game without Ryan Boatright who is expected to meet with the NCAA in the next day or so. Hopefully all goes well and he’s back in action on Saturday. UConn definitely could have used him especially when Cincinnati was running with four guards and Gates.
The Huskies will step out of the conference for the final time this season when they’ll head to Knoxville, TN for a matchup with the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday afternoon. Tip is scheduled for 4 p.m. and the game will be broadcast nationally on CBS.
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Notes and musings:
Cincinnati Bearcats @ UConn Huskies 1.18.12 box score
Here are the postgame quotes from UConn head coach Jim Calhoun and Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin. There are player quotes available as well.
This was UConn’s first game at Gampel since December 8, 2011 when they beat Harvard. It was also their first loss of the season at home.
The Charlotte Bobcats were off on Wednesday night and that allowed former Husky All-American Kemba Walker a chance to attend the game with his mother.
The starters for the Huskies were Shabazz Napier, Jeremy Lamb, DeAndre Daniels, Alex Oriakhi and Andre Drummond.
UConn shot 44.1% (26-59) from the floor while the Bearcats shot 41.9% (26-62).
The Huskies had 15 assists on their 26 made baskets.
The big difference in the game came beyond the arc. UConn was 6-of-16 (37.5%) on threes while Cincinnati was 11-of-26 (42.3%).
The Huskies were 9-of-12 (75%) at the charity stripe while the Bearcats were 7-of-11 (63.6%).
UConn won the battle of the boards outrebounding Cincinnati 41-32.
The Huskies outscored the Bearcats 32-16 in the paint and 10-0 on the fast break.
Cincinnati had 16 second chance points to just 10 for UConn.
The Huskies had nine points off of six Cincinnati turnovers. The Bearcats had 17 points off of 11 UConn turnovers.
There were five ties in the game and 17 lead changes.
Cincinnati’s biggest lead was 12 points which came in the first half. UConn’s biggest lead was just two points and that happened a few times during the game.
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Photo credit: AP Photo