Cincinnati and Villanova both entered tonight’s game at 6-5 in the Big East looking to avoid falling to the bottom half of the Big East with a loss. In front of 9,534 fans at 5/3 Arena, the Bearcats finally pulled away and cruised to a 68-50 victory.
Cincinnati started out solid and held a 32-29 lead at halftime behind a group effort on offense and defense. The Bearcats had solid ball movement on offense and forced more turnovers on defense, something Bearcats’ fans haven’t seen much of lately. Mick Cronin wanted to see his team play tougher, and they did just that in the first half.
The second half saw the same tenacity from the Bearcats on offense and defense, as Cincinnati pulled away from Villanova and held a double digit lead for most of the 2nd half. Cincinnati’s big three were in full force tonight as Sean Kilpatrick and Jaquon Parker had 19 points apiece, and Cashmere Wright added 11.
Cashmere Wright also tied Cincinnati’s all time steal record with his 189th steal of his career. The Bearcats totaled 12 three pointers, including 3 from the bench from Ge’Lawn Guyn and Jermaine Sanders.
Ryan Arcidiacono and Darrun Hilliard usually lead the Wildcats with 11 points a game each, but the stifling Bearcats defense held them to a combined 12 points on 4-13 shooting. Outside of JayVaughn Pinkston’s 12 efficient points, Villanova really struggled to score because of their 19 turnovers.
Nova actually shot better than Cincinnati, but the Bearcats had 6 more possessions and 9 more three pointers.
The Cincinnati Bearcats are now 7-5 in the Big East and look forward to arguably the biggest home game of the year this Friday night vs. #15 Georgetown at 9pm. Georgetown is in 2nd place in the Big East with an 8-3 record.