Skip to content

Senior starters once again carry No. 15 Cincinnati

Mar 6, 2014, 9:49 PM EDT

Sean Kilpatrick, Corey Allen Jr. AP

When the American Athletic Conference coaches made their preseason picks back in October, the Cincinnati Bearcats received nary a sniff in regards to which team would win the league. No. 11 Louisville was the unanimous choice and rightfully so, with the Cardinals returning most of their key contributors from last season’s national champion squad. But the Bearcats were picked to finish fourth in the conference, behind the Cardinals, UConn and Memphis.

Yet on March 6 it’s Mick Cronin’s team that can win a share of the regular season title, and his three senior starters are the biggest reason why. Justin Jackson, Sean Kilpatrick and Titus Rubles have set the tone all season long, not only in regards to production but also leadership, and that was once again the case in the Bearcats’ 97-84 win over No. 20 Memphis.

Kilpatrick scored a season-high 34 points, making 11 of his 18 shots from the field to go along with a 10-for-11 night from the foul line. And it should be noted that to solely use Kilpatrick’s percentages (41.3% FG, 34.3% 3PT entering Thursday’s game) for the season to gauge his impact on the Bearcats would be a serious mistake.

The primary offensive option on a team that has just one other double-figure scorer (Jackson: 11.0 ppg), Kilpatrick is the focal point of every opposing game plan and yet he continues to produce. And amongst players who have a possession percentage of 28% or higher, Kilpatrick ranks fourth in the nation in offensive rating per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers. Simply put, Kilpatrick’s an All-American.

But he’s had help in leading Cincinnati, with fellow seniors Jackson and Rubles providing that assistance. On Thursday Rubles established a new career-high with 24 points, and Jackson added 13 to go along with nine rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocked shots. With this triumvirate taking the majority of the shots Cincinnati shot 53.3% from the field, and their ability to take advantage of a Memphis team that did not defend particularly well played a factor in Cincinnati’s shooting.

What also helped was 14 Memphis turnovers, with Cincinnati converting those mistakes into 20 points. The Bearcats aren’t a running team, as they rank 319th nationally in adjusted tempo, but they managed to score 14 fast break points while limiting the Tigers to eight. This all factored into Cincinnati establishing a season high for points in a game, surpassing the 80-point mark for the first time since early December.

Does Thursday night’s performance represent a significant breakthrough for Cincinnati offensively? Probably not, considering their production for much of conference play. But it does represent a fitting home finale for a group of seniors who have exceeded expectations all season long. And given how well Cincinnati defends, Kilpatrick and his teammates could be leading their team deep into the month of March.

Latest Posts
  1. Official visit schedule set for five-star 2015 center Stephen Zimmerman

    Jul 27, 2014, 9:39 PM EDT

    Nike EYBL Nike EYBL

    Despite not being included among the five official visits, Indiana and UNLV remain options for Zimmerman.

  2. Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell breaks his second backboard of the summer

    Jul 27, 2014, 5:41 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Nearly three months after breaking a backboard during a pickup game, the rising junior took out another one this weekend.

  3. Arizona commit Ray Smith calls ACL tear ‘a blessing’

    Jul 27, 2014, 3:05 PM EDT

    ray-smith

    Ray Smith tore his ACL earlier this month.

  4. Assigned Reading: Michael Hausfeld, the man taking on the NCAA

    Jul 27, 2014, 1:35 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Ed O’Bannon’s lead attorney didn’t even know who he was when he first met him.

  5. Kwe Parker throws down 360 cradle dunk … again (VIDEO)

    Jul 27, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    picresized_th_1406475062_Screen Shot 2014-07-27 at 11.28.23 AM

    It’s been a summer of viral dunks for the 6-foot-2 recruit

  6. Las Vegas Saturday Recap: Bennie Boatwright, Justin Simon lead Dream Vision into adidas Super 64 semis

    Jul 27, 2014, 10:29 AM EDT

    Kelly Kline/adidas Kelly Kline/adidas

    Also some notes on junior college guard Andre Spight and 2015 guard Justin Foreman.

  7. Skal Labissiere is considering Europe, but that doesn’t mean there’s a market for him

    Jul 27, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    "NBPA Top 100 Camp"

    Skal Labissiere may want to go to Europe. That does not mean Europe wants him.

  8. North Carolina announces plans for program that aims to help former athletes complete their degree

    Jul 26, 2014, 6:34 PM EDT

    Nate Britt, Roy Williams AP

    North Carolina is the latest school making the positive step of looking to help its former athletes obtain their college degrees.

  9. Saint Louis will need some of six-man recruiting class to step up in 2014-15

    Jul 26, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    Jim Crews AP

    With Saint Louis losing five experienced seniors, the incoming freshman class could be expected to contribute immediately this season.

  10. Two surprises after first cuts at Team USA U17 trials

    Jul 26, 2014, 1:42 PM EDT

    usa-logo-color1

    Two top five players in the Class of 2016 were sent home.

  11. Las Vegas Friday Recap: Jaylen Brown, Kobi Simmons among standouts

    Jul 26, 2014, 12:29 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Brown also mentioned plans of taking an unofficial visit to UCLA following adidas Nations.

  12. USA Basketball session one highlights (VIDEO)

    Jul 26, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    (Scott Phillips/NBC Sports) (Scott Phillips/NBC Sports)

    USA Basketball has a lot of talent in the building this week for the U17 World Championship camp.

  13. Florida commit KeVaughn Allen puts together an impressive Peach Jam (VIDEO)

    Jul 25, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT

    (Nike) (Nike)

    Florida commit KeVaughn Allen had a great week at Peach Jam.

  14. Report: Dismissed Delaware guard Jarvis Threatt turning pro

    Jul 25, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    Jordan Henriquez, Jarvis Threatt Jordan Henriquez, Jarvis Threatt

    Former Delaware guard Jarvis Threatt is turning pro after being dismissed from the program in June.

  15. Iowa State’s Georges Niang provides visual evidence of his weight loss (PHOTO)

    Jul 25, 2014, 4:47 PM EDT

    niang Getty Images

    Didn’t believe Niang when he stated that he’d reshaped his body? Here’s visual evidence that he did.

  16. Rawle Alkins carries the torch as one of New York’s next great guards

    Jul 25, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    (adidas) (adidas)

    New York City guard Rawle Alkins is one player to monitor in the Class of 2016.