Bearcats Stay Undefeated In Conference Play

The Cincinnati Bearcats (15-2 overall; 4-0 American Athletic) seem to have adopted the identity of being a downright, gritty defensive squad. No matter how sloppy Cincinnati may look on offense, the defense is always there to bail them out and the Bearcats' 71-51 victory over the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers is just more proof of that.

The Bearcats from a defensive standpoint had an abysmal first half, allowing 32 points from a team that is one of the lowest-scoring teams in the American Athletic Conference. Rutgers made 11 of its first 22 shots, keeping it close. By contrast, Cincinnati went 5 minutes, 46 seconds without a field goal in the first half, managing only five free throws. The Bearcats worked the ball inside, drew fouls under the basket and went 15 of 20 from the free-throw line in the first half.

The Bearcats held on to a two-point lead at the half. The Bearcats couldn't maintain a cohesive rhythm on offense from the get-go. Sean Kilpatrick, who finished with 16 points, nine being from the free throw line, continues to struggle with his outside shot. He went 3 for 13 from the field, including 1 for 10 from the three-point line. In his last five games, Kilpatrick is 20 of 66 from the field and 4 of 33 beyond the arc.


However in the second half, Justin Jackson has had a vital part to Cincinnati's eight-game surge. He's had three double-doubles during the winning streak, averaging 14.1 points while shooting 60 percent from the field. Jackson finished with 11 points and seven rebounds despite foul trouble. The Bearcats not only stepped up the offense in the second half with freshman Troy Caupain being the unsung hero, scoring 14 points, but the intensity of the defense was turned up to the maximum. The Bearcats held the Scarlet Knights to only 19 points in the second half and caused Rutgers to go ice cold from the field for the final 11:45 of play. It was yet another accomplishment for one of the best defensive teams in college basketball.

The way that the Bearcats were hovering outside of the AP Top 25, there should be very little doubt that they will finally crack the Top 25. Cincinnati is now 4-0 in league play, the first time since the 2003-04 season when they were in Conference USA.

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