Bearcats "Steal" Victory from UALR.

Cincinnati used a school record 23 steals to take care of Arkansas-Little Rock Tuesday night.

Led by Sean Kilpatrick's 18 points, including 10 in the second half, the Cincinnati Bearcats beat a mistake-prone Arkansas-Little Rock team 87-53. The game got off to a rough start, as both teams traded turnovers early on and the Bearcats did not get onto the scoreboard until nearly three minutes had ticked off the clock. However, once the offense got going, Cincinnati used a strong defensive performance to seal their eighth win of the year.

In what could have been a trap game, as it came five days after an emotional, buzzer-beating victory over Alabama, the Bearcats came out and took care of business in dominating fashion. Star guard Sean Kilpatrick struggled to get his shot going early on, going 3-10 in the first half, but finished with eight points to tie for the team lead going into halftime. Fellow guards Cashmere Wright and Jaquon Parker picked up the slack, both finishing with eight points, with Wright pitching in four assists. But the story of the first half was turnovers. The Trojans could not get into a rhythm offensively and squandered multiple fast break opportunities. In contrast, the Bearcats took advantage of Arkansas-Little Rock's 18 first half turnovers, scoring easy buckets on fast breaks and crushing any chance for the Trojans to gain any sort of momentum.

The second half was much of the same for both teams. The Trojans continued to have trouble holding onto the ball, committing 14 more turnovers to put their total at 32 for the game, and the Bearcats settled into a groove offensively as their shots began to fall and they stretched the lead to 38 at one point. It wasn't all smooth sailing for the Bearcats, however, they shot 5-20 from the three point line, their worse showing of the season. A bright spot in the front-court belonged to Cheikh Mbdoj, who finished with 12 points and seven rebound. The big man played his best game of the season and looked the part of a legitimate starting center. During one stretch in the second half, Mbdoj finished off an alley-oop, came down and blocked a shot on defense, while keeping the ball in play, and grabbed an offensive rebound and put back layup, showing off the athleticism and hard play that Mick Cronin desires in all his starters.

Cincinnati set a school record with 23 steals on the night and put on their best defensive performance of the year. While the victory was decisive, Coach Cronin will surely work to shore up some of the Bearcats own deficiencies, as they finished with 17 turnovers of their own. The Bearcats continue their home stand as they take on the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore this Saturday at 2pm.


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