CINCINNATI — Senior guard Russ Smith’s jumper with 2.2 seconds remaining lifted No. 11 Louisville to a 58-57 victory over No. 7 Cincinnati before a sold-out crowd of 13,176 on Saturday at Fifth Third Arena.
Forward Montrezl Harrell led the Cardinals with 21 points and freshman guard Terry Rozier added 11 points for Louisville (23-4, 12-2 in the American Athletic Conference), which extended its winning streak to six games.
Smith finished with 10 points including the game-winner, despite being saddled with foul trouble for much of the game.
Senior guard Sean Kilpatrick did just about everything to rally Cincinnati (24-4, 13-2 in the AAC), scoring 22 of his 28 points in the second half.
The loss ended the Bearcats’ 19-game home winning streak.
The Cardinals trailed by one, but Harrell scored on an assist from Smith to put Louisville ahead, 56-55, with 26.3 seconds left.
Freshman guard Troy Caupain hit two free throws to put Cincinnati ahead with 11.5 seconds remaining, but Smith won it moments later.
Both offenses started slowly on Saturday.
The Bearcats were scoreless until Kilpatrick’s 3-pointer with 16:52 left in the first half. And, Louisville did not have a field goal until forward Stephan Van Treese’s layup at the 15:28 mark.
Rozier’s layup put Louisville ahead, 17-9.
With under than six minutes remaining in the first half, Cincinnati was 3-for-23 from the field.
A layup by freshman forward Mangok Mathiang capped a 13-0 Louisville run to make the score 21-9.
Junior forward Jermaine Sanders sparked a 7-0 run by the Bearcats with a 3-pointer to pull them within five points late in the first half.
Cincinnati, which shot only 19.4 percent in the first half, was fortunate to trail by only three points at halftime.
Consecutive baskets by Kilpatrick gave Cincinnati a 30-27 lead with 14 minutes left.
Junior guard Chris Jones scored seven points during a 9-0 Louisville run to help the Cardinals regain control.
A 3-pointer by Rozier made the score 47-37 with 8:55 left.
Much of Louisville’s run occurred with Smith on the bench with three fouls. Senior guard Luke Hancock and Mathiang both fouled out.
But, Cincinnati rallied behind Kilpatrick, who hit three straight free throws to put the Bearcats ahead, 53-51, with 1:40 left.
NOTES: Bearcats G Sean Kilpatrick joined legendary Oscar Robertson as the only players in school history to surpass 2,000 career points. … It was the first matchup between top 12 teams at Fifth Third Arena since Feb. 22, 2002, when No. 4 Cincinnati beat No. 9 Marquette. … Cincinnati won at Louisville, 69-66, on Jan. 30. … Louisville leads the series, 56-43, but Cincinnati has won four of the last seven meetings. … It’s the last scheduled meeting between the two schools with Louisville leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference next season. … Louisville G Russ Smith eclipsed 1,700 career points with a 3-pointer in the first half.
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