Pittsburgh (15-3, 3-2) led by one at halftime, 28-27, despite freshman DeJuan Blair sitting with foul trouble from the opening minutes and a Cincy trey at the first-half buzzer, but the host Bearcats (9-9, 4-2) opened a 40-40 tie in the second half with a 13-0 run and never looked back.
Adam Hrycaniuk had two tip-ins during the scoring run, and Cincinnati pulled off its second Big East upset in eight days. The Bearcats beat Villanova on a last-minute shot a week ago. Cincinnati won only two Big East games last season, as it finished dead last in the Conference.
Pitt fell way behind after another injury further sapped its lineup. Forward Keith Benjamin jammed and cut his right hand late in the first half, and had trouble shooting when he returned wearing a wrap. He did drill a 3-pointer a short time before his game-ending shots after missing twice early in the second half.
"Keith had to get his hand stitched up, and he came back and played,'' Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "I've got to give him a lot of credit. I'm proud of him for doing that.''
With a chance to tie in the closing seconds, Benjamin took a trey that was blocked by Rashad Bishop. He got the ball back and took another 3-pointer that was well short at the buzzer.
Deonta Vaughn led Cincinnati with 14 points, including a fast-break layup and three free throws in the final 1:18. Hrycaniuk added 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
Hrycaniuk's tip-ins -- one off a missed free throw -- sparked the Bearcats' surge to a 53-40 lead with 6:32 left. By that time, the Panthers were scrambling to assemble a lineup. Tyrell Biggs had four fouls, and Benjamin was limited by the hand injury.
Sam Young led Pitt with 24 points and nine rebounds. Blair picked up his third foul a minute into the second half and played the rest of the way with it after taking a seat on the bench for a few minutes again.
"We had trouble in the first half and were only up by one,'' Young said. "If we play the way we're capable of playing, we're up 10 or 15 and we wouldn't have had that problem.''
It was another painful loss for the Panthers, as Young was also banged up along with Benjamin. He returned for the second half with his hand wrapped, but had trouble dribbling and shooting.
When Blair went to the bench with his third foul at 18:50 of the second half, Pittsburgh was just trying to hang on. Biggs soon was in foul trouble as well.
The Panthers' defense generally kept Vaughn in check. Vaughn, who is Cincinnati's top scorer, got only one shot in the first half and missed it. His jumper opened the second half and put the Bearcats up 29-28.
After Cincinnati appeared to take control with its 13-point run, Young rallied the Panthers. Wearing a bandage on his forehead from a second-half head-butt, made a three-point play that cut it to 54-48 and set up the close finish.
Benjamin finished with 11 points, but Blair had just four and three boards in 22 minutes. Ramon also had shooting problems and finished with four points (2-for-8) and eight assists. Gilbert Brown played his most complete game with eight points, four rebounds and two assists in 32 minutes. Biggs added six points and five boards.
The game drew 10,684 fans, the biggest crowd for a Bearcats home game this season, but still shy of capacity in the 13,176-seat arena.
Cincinnati 62, Pitt Panthers 59
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