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. Phoenix/Glendale bid organizers hope to reel in Final Four

    Sep 23, 2014, 3:57 PM EDT

    San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals

    The Final Four hasn’t been played in the western United States since 1995.

  2. Four-star 2015 shooting guard commits to Illinois

    Sep 23, 2014, 2:32 PM EDT

    Jon Lopez/Nike Jon Lopez/Nike

    Illinois now has three commitments in the Class of 2015, and there’s still a five-star point guard on the board that they’re pursuing.

  3. Maryland transfer eligible this season at Georgia Tech

    Sep 23, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The 6-foot-8 forward has two years of eligibility remaining.

  4. Houston announces plans for new practice facility

    Sep 23, 2014, 2:05 PM EDT

    University of Houston University of Houston

    This facility is a nice boost for a basketball program that has made one NCAA tournament appearance since 1992.

  5. Malik Newman, Jaylen Brown among 53 invited to US Junior National Team minicamp

    Sep 23, 2014, 12:55 PM EDT

    FIBA U17 World Championships - Dubai Getty Images

    The two-day camp will be held October 4-5 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

  6. UConn star among 13 finalists for United States senior women’s national team

    Sep 23, 2014, 11:27 AM EDT

    Breanna Stewart Breanna Stewart

    Breanna Stewart is the lone current college player among the finalists, with the team playing one final exhibition before the world championships begin September 27.

  7. Ohio State center won’t request immediate eligibility waiver

    Sep 23, 2014, 10:10 AM EDT

    Marshall Plumlee, Trevor Thompson AP

    The former Virginia Tech big man will work hard in 2014-15 with an eye towards being a primary option in 2015-16.

  8. Purdue athletic department will sell copies of old game films

    Sep 22, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT

    Matt Painter AP

    Purdue is offering to sell old game films using a company that hopes to do the same with over 600 colleges.

  9. Florida State gets commitment from 7-foot-4 2015 center

    Sep 22, 2014, 7:47 PM EDT

    Leonard Hamilton AP

    Florida State added a big man in 2015 to go along with its three talented perimeter threats.

  10. N.C. State has three new jersey designs for 2014-15 (PHOTO)

    Sep 22, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT

    Mark Gottfried AP

    The Wolfpack have some new threads for the upcoming season.

  11. Creighton lands 2015 point guard commitment

    Sep 22, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    300x1 AP

    Creighton picked up a point guard in the 2015 class on Monday.

  12. Newspaper apologizes for its illustration of Kentucky head coach John Calipari

    Sep 22, 2014, 3:54 PM EDT

    John Calipari John Calipari

    The image places alongside a column on the recent USA Basketball debate caused an uproar in the Bluegrass State.

  13. Vanderbilt releases non-conference schedule

    Sep 22, 2014, 3:44 PM EDT

    SEC Basketball Tournament - First Round Getty Images

    Kevin Stallings’ young team will play away from Nashville three times before the start of SEC play, with two of those games being played on a neutral court.

  14. Three-star 2015 small forward cuts list to four schools

    Sep 22, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT

    Jason Minick/Reebok Jason Minick/Reebok

    The St. Anthony product is a valuable recruit for each of the remaining schools, as they all have the eventual loss of current seniors to account for.

  15. Dayton reels in three-star guard for fourth 2015 commitment

    Sep 22, 2014, 12:39 PM EDT

    Archie Miller AP

    Having landed commitments from three forwards, the Flyers added a piece for their backcourt on Monday.

  16. Four-star forward becomes Nebraska’s third 2015 commitment

    Sep 22, 2014, 11:58 AM EDT

    Tim Miles AP

    The Simeon HS forward officially visited Nebraska this weekend, and both of his parents attended the school as well.

  17. Western Kentucky asks fans for input on alternate jersey design

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:26 AM EDT

    Ray Harper Ray Harper

    Fans have three different designs from which to choose, with the winning option scheduled to be revealed next Monday.

  18. 6-foot-9 power forward verbally commits to Towson

    Sep 21, 2014, 11:15 PM EDT

    UMBC v Towson Getty Images

    The Tigers, who won 25 games last season, landed their first commitment in the Class of 2015 Sunday night.