March 2, 2013
CINCINNATI - Sean Kilpatrick scored 20 points and made a pair of late free throws Saturday, and Cincinnati ended a three-game losing streak with a 61-56 men's basketball victory over the University of Connecticut, which was missing its top scorer in junior guard Shabazz Napier (Roxbury, Mass.) due to a foot injury. The game was played before a crowd of 12,423 at Fifth Third Arena.
The Bearcats (20-9, 8-8 BIG EAST) got only their second win in their last six games. They split their season series with UConn (19-9, 9-7), which couldn't overcome the loss of Napier, who averages 17.1 points.
After a Cincinnati turnover, Kilpatrick stole the tipped inbound pass, was fouled and made both free throws with 13.1 seconds left for a 59-56 lead. Sophomore guard Ryan Boatright (Aurora, Ill.) turned it over on an over-and-back call with 5.2 seconds left.
Boatright led UConn with 22 points, going 14 of 15 on free throws. Sophomore center DeAndre Daniels (Los Angeles, Calif.) added 18 points.
Napier's right foot - which had surgery last year - has been bothering him the last few weeks and was aggravated in a double-overtime loss to Georgetown on Wednesday. The foot had been a chronic problem for Napier, who had a screw inserted in it last September for a stress fracture.
The Bearcats also were missing a player. Forward Justin Jackson wore a boot on his left foot.
Cincinnati's offense has been its biggest problem. With point guard Cashmere Wright in a shooting slump since he sprained his right knee in mid-January, Cincinnati's offense has been bogged down. The Bearcats had scored 52 or fewer points in four of the last six games, including a 62-41 loss at Notre Dame last Sunday.
Wright had 10 points on Saturday, going only two of 14 from the field and two of 11 behind the arc. Cincinnati was only 12 of 21 on free throws, but scored its last eight points from the line.
Cinncinnati coach Mick Cronin's solution to the lack of offense was to go back to getting points off turnovers. It worked at the outset. Cincinnati scored nine points off seven UConn turnovers. Kilpatrick had a bank shot and a three-pointer curing a 10-point run that extended the lead to 21-16.
Freshman center Phillip Nolan (Milwaukee, Wisc.) and Daniels rallied the Huskies through a 13-3 spurt to finish the half for a 29-24 lead. Daniels had a dunk and an off-balance flip that went in with four seconds left in the half, giving him nine points at the break.
Wright made a three-pointer - his first basket after eight misses - and the Bearcats pulled ahead 46-37 with a 16-4 run that featured a technical foul on Cronin. He yanked off his black jacket, flung it at the floor and yelled at the officials, angry that they didn't make a foul call.
Another three by Kilpatrick helped push it to 51-39 with 9:15 left, the biggest lead of the game. Daniels and Boatright scored all the points during a 14-2 run that cut it to 55-53 with 2:19 left, with Boatright hitting seven free throws.
Nolan made the second of his two free throws with 20 seconds left, cutting it to 57-56, but UConn then turned it over twice.
UConn returns to action on Wednesday when it travels to USF for a 9 p.m. game that will be seen on ESPNU and heard on the UConn IMG Sports Radio Network. The Huskies will conclude their 2012-13 season next Saturday when they host Providence for Senior Day in Gampel Pavilion in a noon game - also on ESPNU.