The No. 8 Cincinnati Bearcats arrived in Pittsburgh with a chance to redeem themselves vs. the No. 24 Panthers after falling to New Mexico at home.
Both teams sat at 12-1 and had something to prove as national pundits have been calling out both teams for playing lackluster schedules. Cincinnati proved to be resilient with a 70-61 win in a tale of two halves.
Pittsburgh came out hot and Cincinnati came out cold in a very frustrating half for Bearcats’ fans. Cincinnati finally fought back and tied it, but the Panthers ended the half on an 8-0 run to take a 34-26 lead at halftime. Talib Zanna led the Panthers with a very efficient 10 points in the first half while Cincinnati’s star Kilpatrick was on the bench with two fouls.
Cincinnati came out quick and attacking the basket behind some stellar play from Titus Rubles, who finished with 5 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 huge assists. In the second half the Bearcats added some unexpected offense to compliment the defense.
“The Three Amigos” combined for 47 points, most of it in the second half to finish off the Panthers. It was very relieving for Bearcats fans to see Parker, Kilpatrick, and Wright shoot 20-26 from the free throw line after the whole team only had 4 attempts vs. the Lobos last week.
The surprise of the second half was the strong finishing towards the latter part of the half by Titus Rubles and David Nyarsuk. Cheikh Mbodj was in serious foul trouble, so Nyarsuk was getting some unexpected minutes. Nyarsuk had 3 critical offensive rebounds and was perfect from the field for 6 points thanks to two put backs and a beautiful feed from Titus Rubles. Rubles made much of his impact in the last 15 minutes of the game where he was penetrating at will and forcing Pittsburgh to switch their defense up a little.
Cincinnati’s offense in the second half really allowed the Bearcats to do what Coach Mick Cronin wants, press the ball on defense. Pittsburgh had 9 key turnovers, and seemed to just be out of it offensively the entire second half where they were outscored 44-27.
Cincinnati heads back to the Queen City for what will seem like a double header where Cincinnati faces off vs. St Johns on Saturday at 4pm and No. 21 Notre Dame two days later at 6:30PM.