Seniors Guide No. 15 Bearcats to Win over No. 20 Memphis
March 7, 2014INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
CINCINNATI MENS RELEASE
CINCINNATI – University of Cincinnati seniors Justin Jackson (Cocoa Beach, Fla./Arlington Country Day), Sean Kilpatrick (Yonkers, N.Y./Notre Dame Prep) and Titus Rubles (Dallas, Texas/Blinn College) combined to score 71 points to lead the Bearcats to a 97-84 senior night victory over Memphis in front of a sold-out raucous crowd inside Fifth Third Arena.
The three Bearcats were honored along with Derek Cox (Mason, Ohio/Mason) and David Nyarsuk (Juba, South Sudan/Mountain State University) in an emotional pregame ceremony that brought the crowd to its feet.
With the win, Cincinnati (25-5, 14-3 American Athletic Conference) recorded 25 wins for the third time in four seasons and earned a season sweep over Memphis (22-8, 11-6 American).
Rubles set a career high with 24 points, going 6-for-6 from the free-throw line and grabbing five rebounds. Kilpatrick hit game and seasons highs with 34 points. He hit 11 field goals and was 10-of-11 from the free-throw line while dishing out three assists. Jackson was just shy of the double-double, scoring 13, grabbing nine boards, swiping three steals and blocking a pair of shots.
Memphis erased UC's six-point halftime cushion in a hurry, knocking down its first three shots to pull within one, 40-39, with 17:42 left. Despite missing its first three shots, UC withstood the onslaught by getting to the free throw line early and often, going 3-of-4 in the first 2:18 of the half and 25-of-28 in the second half.
UC and Memphis fought a see-saw battle over the next few minutes, UC going up three, Memphis bringing it back to one and UC going up four and the Tigers fighting back after a three-pointer by Joe Jackson at the 16:37 mark brought Memphis back to within one again at 43-42, the closest it would get the rest of the night.
Rubles hit a pair of free throws and Jermaine Sanders (Far Rockaway, N.Y./Rice) drained a three to start a 15-3 run over 3:36 that was capped by a fast-break layup from Kilpatrick that put the Bearcats ahead 58-45 with 12:29 left.
UC would push the lead to as many as 18, breaking Memphis' press with fast-break buckets that brought the sellout crowd to its feet once again.
But, the loudest cheers of the night were reserved for the three seniors, Rubles, Kilpatrick and finally Jackson, who were subbed out of the game individually in the last 45 seconds of action. UC's senior class has earned a 99-37 record over the past four seasons – the most victories over a four-year stretch during the eight-year tenure of head coach Mick Cronin.
Jackson scored 21 to lead three Tigers' players in double digits. Michael Dixon Jr. finished with 19 while Austin Nichols hit for 17.
UC held a 38-32 halftime lead after leading by as many as 14 in the first eight minutes.
The Bearcats forced eight Memphis turnovers in the first 6:39 and scored 10 points off the Tigers giveaways, part of an 18-4 run to open the game. Memphis responded with a 6-0 run of its own, making it 18-10 with 11:06 left.
The Tigers started 0-for-9 from behind the three-point line, but hit a pair of triples in the final 70 seconds to pull the deficit down to six, 38-32 at the break.
UC closes out the regular season Saturday, traveling to Rutgers for a noon tipoff against the Scarlet Knights. A victory gives the Bearcats at least a share of the American Athletic Conference title. The game will air live on ESPNews and 700 WLW AM.