Skip to content

Senior starters once again carry No. 15 Cincinnati

Mar 6, 2014, 9:49 PM EST

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. Duke AD defends handling of allegations against Rasheed Sulaimon

    Mar 3, 2015, 1:36 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Rasheed Sulaimon was reportedly publicly accused of sexual assault.

  2. Butler gets starting forward back from broken hand

    Mar 3, 2015, 12:54 PM EST

    Villanova v Butler Getty Images

    Andrew Chrabascz had missed the last two weeks with a broken hand

  3. Big South Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

    Mar 3, 2015, 12:05 PM EST

    John Brown Getty Images) Getty Images

    A three-game margin separated the top seven teams, so don’t be surprised if things don’t go according to the seeds in Conway, South Carolina.

  4. Dan Patrick Show: Frank Kaminsky joins to talk about his senior year (VIDEO)

    Mar 3, 2015, 11:42 AM EST

    Frank Kaminsky, David Rivers, Walter Pitchford AP

    The National Player of the Year talks hoops, soccer and senior years.

  5. ‘I Hate Christian Laettner’ trailer released (VIDEO)

    Mar 3, 2015, 10:12 AM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Last year, the college hoops 30 for 30 was “Requiem for the Big East”.

  6. NEC Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

    Mar 3, 2015, 9:15 AM EST

    Jalen Cannon (AP Photo) Jalen Cannon (AP Photo)

    Can St. Francis (NY) land their first-ever NCAA tournament berth?

  7. Seton Hall adds three-star wing commitment for 2015 class

    Mar 2, 2015, 8:30 PM EST

    AP Photo AP

    Seton Hall added to its 2015 recruiting haul on Monday.

  8. Alabama forward out for the season with injury

    Mar 2, 2015, 7:20 PM EST

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Alabama loses another starter as the regular season winds down.

  9. Patriot League Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

    Mar 2, 2015, 6:19 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Bucknell will be looking to make their third NCAA tournament appearance under Dave Paulsen.

  10. Pregame Shootaround: Three great games on TV tonight

    Mar 2, 2015, 3:30 PM EST

    Buddy Hield AP

    The Big 12 and the ACC will both be in action.

  11. Atlantic Sun Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

    Mar 2, 2015, 2:30 PM EST

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    The Atlantic Sun Tournament should be an exciting one as Florida Gulf Coast attempts to dethrone regular season champ North Florida.

  12. Mike Krzyzewski refuses comment on Rasheed Sulaimon sexual assault allegations

    Mar 2, 2015, 12:45 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Sulaimon was dismissed from the team in January of this year.

  13. Report: Memphis star expected to miss remainder of season

    Mar 2, 2015, 12:25 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Austin Nichols was the bright spot for the Tigers this season.

  14. Horizon League Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

    Mar 2, 2015, 11:25 AM EST

    Alec Peters, Valparaiso Getty Images) Alec Peters, Valparaiso Getty Images)

    In addition to the Crusaders and Phoenix, keep an eye on Cleveland State and Oakland.

  15. Bracketology: Villanova takes ahold of the fourth No. 1 seed

    Mar 2, 2015, 9:27 AM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The latest bracket projections from our Dave Ommen.

  16. Weekly Awards: Sir’Dominic Pointer and Baylor shine in a wild week of hoops

    Mar 2, 2015, 8:30 AM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Baylor picked up two huge wins, while Pointer led the Johnnies into the tournament this week.