Feb. 06, 2014
CINCINNATI - After leading most of the game, No. 22 Connecticut had a chance to finish out the top-25 contest with its seventh win in eight games, but came up short, falling to No. 7 Cincinnati, 63-58, at Fifth Third Arena on Thursday night. UConn falls to 17-5 overall and 5-4 in conference play with the loss.
Sean Kilpatrick had 26 points and 12 rebounds as Cincinnati rallied for its 15th win in a row. His two free throws in the closing seconds sent the Huskies to their second loss in eight games, both against ranked teams.
"They did whatever they wanted to do in the second half," UConn head coach Kevin Ollie said.
The Bearcats (22-2, 11-0) trailed for most of the game, their first with a No. 7 ranking that is their highest in 10 years.
Cincinnati has won 18 straight at home, including all 16 this season. The Bearcats are off to their best start in 12 years.
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.
Senior guard Shabazz Napier (Roxbury, Mass.) scored 16 points for the Huskies, 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 Cincinnati.
The game matched two of the American Athletic Conference's top guards. Kilpatrick leads the league at 19.4 points per game, while Napier averages 17.9 points and 6.0 rebounds. Napier 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," 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."
Napier went only 2 of 12 beyond the arc and missed a tough 3-point attempt that could have put the Huskies ahead with 30 seconds to go.
"We can't shoot 30-footers, and hopefully he keeps learning," Ollie said. "You have to get to the rim and put it on the ref in that situation. You have to make a pass."
Connecticut led for all but 40 seconds in the first half with its guards darting through Cincinnati's defense for layups and assists.
UConn junior guard Ryan Boatright (Aurora, Ill.) 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 the game.
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. Husky sophomore guard Omar Calhoun's (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 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.
The Huskies return to action in three days when they face UCF Sunday, Feb. 9th on the road in Orlando, Fla. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. and the game can be seen on ESPN 2 and heard on the UConn IMG Radio Network.