CINCINNATI — Senior guard Sean Kilpatrick scored 34 points, and senior forward Titus Rubles added a career-high 24, lifting No. 15 Cincinnati to a 97-84 victory over No. 20 Memphis on Thursday.
The Bearcats kept alive their hopes of winning the American Athletic Conference title in the league’s inaugural season. To earn the top seed in the AAC tournament, Cincinnati (25-5, 14-3) needs to win at Rutgers and have Louisville lose at home to Connecticut on Saturday.
Senior Justin Jackson battled through an injury, finishing with 13 points, nine rebounds, three steals, three assists and two blocks. Jackson, Kilpatrick and Rubles played their final game at Fifth Third Arena.
Cincinnati got a scare when Jackson left the game after a hard foul by Tigers forward Austin Nichols with 17:42 left. He returned less than three minutes later after receiving treatment on his right shoulder.
Memphis (22-8, 11-6) was led by senior guard Joe Jackson, who scored 21 points. Guard Michael Dixon Jr. scored 19 points, and Nichols added 17 for the Tigers.
Memphis trailed by six points at halftime, but began the second half with a 7-2 run, highlighted by guard Chris Crawford’s 3-pointer, to make it a one-point game
Kilpatrick’s layup capped an 8-0 run that gave the Bearcats a 13-point lead.
Guard Troy Caupain’s lob to Rubles for a dunk made the score 60-49 with fewer than 11 minutes remaining.
Memphis, which scored a season-low 53 points in its loss to the Bearcats in January, committed seven turnovers in the first six minutes Thursday.
Cincinnati went on a 14-0 run to build an 18-4 lead.
Memphis responded with a 9-1 run to keep the score close.
A dunk by Tigers forward Shaq Goodwin resulted in a three-point play, cutting the Bearcats’ lead to 19-13.
Memphis was 0-for-9 from 3-point range before hitting its final two attempts to cut the Bearcats’ advantage to 38-32 at halftime.
Justin Jackson had a dominant first half with 11 points, five rebounds, three steals and a block. Kilpatrick scored 12 first-half points, and Nichols led all scorers with 13 points before the break.
NOTES: Bearcats G Sean Kilpatrick will finish his career as the school’s second all-time leading scorer behind Oscar Robertson. … Cincinnati scored 57 points or fewer in its past three losses. … Memphis and Cincinnati were both ranked in the Associated Press poll for the fourth time in 69 all-time meetings. … Both teams close the regular season on Saturday. Cincinnati plays at Rutgers, and Memphis hosts SMU.
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