No. 3 Syracuse played host to No. 21 Cincinnati at 3:30 for a Big Monday showdown on Martin Luther King Day. Both teams were coming off emotional wins vs. top teams two days earlier, and had to tip off less than 48 hours after the completion of those games. Syracuse held off Cincinnati’s unbelievable effort with a 57-55 win for the Orange.
The Orange went into half with a 22-18 lead in a huge defensive struggle. Cincinnati came out in a zone & was executing it just as well as Syracuse was. Cincinnati had even more trouble scoring than the Orange, but hit four huge threes to keep them close at half. The Bearcats didn’t have a 2 point field goal till 3:24 left in the first half when Titus Rubles hit a jumper
Sean Kilpatrick was still hot from the showdown vs. Marquette, and hit three 3’s in the first half.
Although Cincinnati held Syracuse to 22 points in the first half, they also hit some big time threes. The Orange added a few wide open layups off turnovers and capitalized off every Bearcat mental mistake.
Cincinnati started the second half hot with more three point shooting, Kilpatrick and Parker combined for four straight 3’s in the first 7 minutes of the half and took a 36-29 lead. The Bearcats held a small lead most of the second half and looked to be in the drivers’ seat with a 49-42 lead with 6 minutes remaining. Cashmere Wright missed a three point shot with just under 10 seconds remaining and Parker missed a last second half court heave to give Syracuse another top 25 win.
Cincinnati was led by Sean Kilpatrick again who followed up his 36 point performance and Big East Player of the Week honors with a 21 point effort. JaQuon Parker also added 11 points, while Cashmere Wright had a tough return off injury shooting only 2-13 from the field. Titus Rubles and Justin Jackson played extremely well in the second half breaking down the zone on offense. Rubles had 5 points 6 rebounds and 5 assists while Jackson added 5 points. Offensive rebounding was a key part of Cincinnati’s game tonight as Rubles had 5, Parker had 4 and Mbodj added 2 to out-rebound Syracuse 13 to 6 on the offensive end.
Syracuse was led by Michael Carter-Williams, Brandon Triche, and C.J. Fair who had 16, 13, and 13 respectively. They all had big shots and three pointers down the stretch just keeping Syracuse in the game and did enough to take a 2 point lead right at the end. Baye Keita added 2 blocks and Trevor Cooney had 4 steals to force 9 Cincinnati turnovers, while they only had 6.
Cincinnati will now go into their 9 day break 16-4 (4-3) and will play Rutgers at home next Wednesday, the 30th.