LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In a game of runs, No. 13 Cincinnati had the last one and beat No. 12 Louisville 69-66 Thursday night at the KFC Yum! Center.
Cincinnati (20-2, 9-0 American Athletic Conference) closed the game with an 8-2 run to stay atop the conference. It was Cincinnati’s 13th straight victory. Louisville fell to 17-4, 6-2 in the AAC, and had its four-game winning streak snapped.
Louisville led 64-61 with five minutes left but made no more field goals and just two free throws thereafter.
In that same span, Cincinnati got a basket from senior forward Justin Jackson, and senior guard Sean Kilpatrick went 6-of-6 from the foul line.
Kilpatrick led Cincinnati with 28 points after having just five at halftime. He made 7-of-18 shots from the floor and 11-of-11 free throws. Jackson had 11 points and nine rebounds as the Bearcats held a 36-25 rebounding advantage.
Louisville was paced by sophomore forward Montrezl Harrell with 18 points and six rebounds. Senior guard Russ Smith and senior forward Luke Hancock had 16 each.
Cincinnati hit 17-of-18 free throws to Louisville’s 8-of-12.
Louisville used a 14-0 run early in the second half to get back in the game after trailing 44-27.
Cincinnati controlled the game at the outset.
Behind two 8-0 runs and a suffocating defense, Cincinnati took a 28-20 halftime lead.
After a Louisville basket, Cincinnati scored eight consecutive points to take an 8-2 lead. Louisville committed two turnovers during Cincinnati’s run. The Bearcats used another 8-0 run to lead 17-7.
Cincinnati’s defense limited Louisville to 31 percent shooting (8-for-26) for the half. The Cardinals didn’t reach double figures until 5:57 remained in the half, at which point Cincinnati led 20-11.
Cincinnati also didn’t shoot particularly well before the break, making just 11 of 28 shots (39 percent), but the Bearcats outrebounded Louisville 23-16, had five blocks to just one by Louisville and led in steals 3-1. Each team committed nine first-half turnovers.
Sophomore forward Shaquille Thomas led Cincinnati with nine first-half points. Bearcats senior forward Titus Rubles had six points and six rebounds before intermission.
Harrell topped Louisville with six first-half points. Smith had five points at the break, but the senior made just two of five shots, one of three free throws and committed two turnovers.
Louisville made just one of nine 3-point shots in the first half, while Cincinnati was three of 10 from long range.
NOTES: Junior PG Chris Jones, Louisville’s third-leading scorer at 11.3 points per game, returned to action after missing three games due to an oblique injury. … The teams met for the 98th time, and the Cardinals entered the night with a 55-42 advantage. It is Louisville’s longest series, dating back to 1921. The schools have shared five conferences. … Bearcats coach Mick Cronin was an assistant to Rick Pitino at Louisville from 2001-03. Pitino began the night 6-4 against Cronin-coached teams. … Louisville plays host to Central Florida on Saturday. Cincinnati will face South Florida on Sunday. The Cardinals and Bearcats meet again Feb. 22 in Cincinnati.
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