The No. 23 Pittsburgh Panthers traveled to Cincinnati Saturday for a rematch vs. the No. 17 Bearcats. Cincinnati won the previous meeting in Pittsburgh, which was also the Big East opener. Cincinnati followed an impressive first half with an awful display in the second to give the hot Panthers their 20th win of the season. The 62-52 defeat was Cincinnati’s first loss by double digits this season and it occurred in front of a near full house of 12,478.
Cincinnati started out hot and looked very fluid on offense and defense, which resulted in a 31-26 half time lead.
Sean Kilpatrick was 5 of 8 and led the Bearcats with 15 points. The Bearcats funk on offense seemed to be a thing of the past as there was a lot of ball movement and penetration from nearly all the guards. Pittsburgh was led by Talib Zanna, who had 7 points. Steven Adams added 3 blocks and was perfect from the field with 5 points.
The second half was the complete opposite for the Bearcats, as they were outscored 36 to 21 in the half. Justin Jackson was absent as he got hurt late in the first half, and it seemed like the Cincinnati offense left with Jackson. Although Cincinnati seemed to still be penetrating and passing, the Bearcats could not hit a shot, whether it was open or contested.
The Bearcats were shooting 40% before the half, but ended up shooting 5-25 from the field in the second half and ended the game on an unbelievable 9:21 drought with no field goals. Sean Kilpatrick alone shot 0 for 7 while Cashmere Wright was 2 for 9 in the second half. Kilpatrick had 15 at the half and scored his only second half point with 4:55 remaining on a free throw, he finished the game with 16. He was the only Bearcat in double figures.
Pittsburgh was led by the solid play of Center Steven Adams, who shot 5 for 6 from the field and added 4 blocks. Talib Zanna and Tray Woodall also added 11 and 14 points respectively at an efficient rate.
Even though Pittsburgh only scored 62 points, Coach Mick Cronin was very upset with Cincinnati’s defense. Coach Cronin said after the game, “The tougher team won. They were more physical and solid on the defensive end.” Hard to argue with Coach, especially after Pittsburgh shot 50% from the field in the 2nd half. They didn’t score a lot of points, but they were very efficient on the offensive end.
Although Cincinnati won the rebounding battle 33 to 30, Mick Cronin was very upset with the toughness and effort on the boards.
“We didn’t have an offensive rebound till under the 5 minute mark in the second half,” Cronin said after the loss. “It’s unacceptable.”
11 offensive rebounds isn’t a terrible total, but clearly when the team is shooting that poorly Coach Cronin expects a better effort on the boards.
Coach summed tonight up well in the presser, “There’s a difference between giving effort and giving effort required to win a game.”
Cincinnati (18-6, 6-5) now looks forward to an 8 pm tip on Tuesday vs. Villanova.