Bearcats shake off rust, top Scarlet Knights
Cincinnati, OH (Sports Network) - Sean Kilpatrick poured in a game-high 19 points and grabbed six rebounds, while Cheikh Mbodj chipped in 10 points on 5- of-7 shooting from the floor, as No. 24 Cincinnati overcame a slow first- half start to pick up an important 62-54 victory over Rutgers.
Justin Jackson and JaQuon Parker donated seven points apiece, as Cincinnati (17-4, 5-3 Big East), picked up its first win after an eight-day layoff between the team's last game.
Myles Mack scored 15 points, while Jerome Seagears and Eli Carter each added 11 for the Scarlet Knights (12-8, 3-6), who endured a late dry spell en route to their fourth straight loss.
The Bearcats shot 32 percent in the first half and trailed by eight at the break, but outscored the visitors 40-24 in the second half to pull away for their fifth conference win.
Kilpatrick nailed back-to-back threes early in the second half, bringing the Bearcats within 36-31. But he wasn't done yet, as he later capped off an 11-4 flurry with a steal and fastbreak lay-in, giving Cincinnati its first lead of the game at 42-40 with 11:07 remaining.
After both teams traded possessions, Cashmere Wright's trey with six-plus minutes remaining broke a tie to put the 'Cats up 49-46.
The two squads hit a cold streak, however, as the game wound down, with multiple turnovers and missed opportunities. In fact, Kilpatrick made 1-of-2 free throws with 1:31 left to play, while Rutgers had failed to provide any other offense up to that point. Cincinnati led 52-46.
Briefly, Mack's 3-pointer with 43 ticks left brought the lead to 55-51, but the home team was able to seal the deal with an easy fastbreak layup and free throws.
"We turned it around, got ourselves in the bonus, and were able to get ourselves to the foul line to get us enough points," Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. "We started getting our fast break going in the second half and executing the defensive and offensive game plan. We just weren't playing well early, but I give Rutgers credit for that. We tell our guys get used to it."
The Bearcats struggled to find the scoreboard early on and only hit three field goals through the first 10 minutes of the contest. The home team trailed 16-7 after Mike Poole's 3-pointer.
With 5:01 remaining in the first half, Mack increased Rutgers' lead to 25-17 with a triple, followed by a jumper one minute later.
Seagears connected on his third 3-pointer of the half -- and the team's sixth - with nine seconds left, helping Rutgers enter the break up 30-22.
"When they turned their intensity and defensive pressure up, we didn't have a response," Rutgers coach Mike Rice said. "We had a lot of turnovers that led to their transition points and our lack of making field goals. Those things were critical to the game."
With the win, Cincinnati swept the season series with visiting Rutgers ... It was the third time this season that the Bearcats scored 22 points at halftime and rallied for a comeback victory ... Cincinnati has won seven of eight versus Rutgers ... Both teams shot an identical 37.5 percent from the floor (18-of-48) ... Rutgers turned the ball over 21 times, compared to 17 for Cincinnati.
01/30 22:54:06 ET