Insider Preview: Bearcats vs SMU

Preview of 7th ranked Bearcats vs SMU match up tonight at 7:30 p.m. Its a lot on the line for both teams.

The Cincinnati Bearcats (22-2 overall; 11-0 American) take their amazing 15-game winning streak on the road to take on the Larry Brown-coached SMU Mustangs (18-5 overall; 7-3 American). But if the Bearcats want to increase their winning streak to 16, which would continue their best streak in 12 years, Cincinnati will have to defeat an SMU team that is 12-0 in their house.

The Bearcats currently hold a 2.5 game lead in the American Athletic Conference over second-place Louisville and SMU is currently sitting in third place so this would be a big win for the Mustangs. SMU has notched two wins against ranked opponents, then 17th-ranked UConn and then 22nd-ranked Memphis last month. Along with their 12-0 home record and their big wins could give the Mustangs their first NCAA Tournament berth since 1993.

These two teams are the best of the best in the American Athletic Conference when it comes to defense. UC and SMU are first and second respectively in points allowed per game. SMU's 61.3 points per game allowed is second behind Cincinnati's 56.8 points allowed which ranks 4th best in the country. But SMU's opponent field goal percentage of 36.8 percent is second best in the country ahead of UC'S 38.6 percent. Cincinnati had trouble scoring inside the first time these two met in Fifth Third Arena, shooting far below 40 percent for the game and only 25 percent from three-point range. But UC drawing multiple fouls and going 23 for 31 from the free throw stripe while SMU was only 8 for 9 resulting in a 65-57 victory for the Cats. Sean Kilpatrick recorded his lowest output of the season only scoring 13.

But senior guard Sean Kilpatrick will be one of the vital reasons if Cincinnati escapes with a victory in Dallas. Behind Kilpatrick's high-scoring output and the Bearcats' stifling defense, its no surprise that that the Bearcats are on this historic winning streak for their program. Kilpatrick has scored 57 points in the Bearcats' last two road games. He has also averaged better than 24 points per game over the last seven games. So if the senior leaders along with Titus Rubles and the defensive intensity from Justin Jackson step up and give a better performance offensively than the last time these two teams met earlier this season, expect the Bearcats to be in firm control of this game.

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