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Cincinnati takes down No. 18 Memphis

Jan 4, 2014 - 11:36 PM Memphis, TN ( - Sean Kilpatrick scored 18 points and Justin Jackson added 13, leading Cincinnati to a 69-53 victory over 18th-ranked Memphis at FedEx Forum.

Jackson also chipped in with eight rebounds and seven blocked shots for the Bearcats (13-2, 2-0 AAC), who have won six straight since dropping two in a row in mid-December. Shaquille Thomas contributed 10 points in the victory.

Joe Jackson scored 13 points and Michael Dixon Jr. netted 12 for Memphis (10-3, 1-1), which had won three straight and lost at home for the first time in six tries this season.

The Tigers, in their first year of American Athletic Conference play after a lengthy run in Conference USA, had a 27-game league winning streak stopped. Memphis hadn't lost a conference game, including tournament action, since Feb. 18, 2012 against UTEP.

"I told our guys that this is the American, and it is going to be tough," said Memphis coach Josh Pastner. "If they play the way we did today, then it is not going to work. We have to trust the process out there and play the way that I want them to play."

Cincinnati carried a 27-26 lead to the intermission and the lead changed hands often during the first seven minutes of the second half. Chris Crawford's trey with just over 12 1/2 minutes left tied the game at 39-39 for Memphis, but the Bearcats followed with a 13-3 run.

Justin Jackson's three-point play gave Cincinnati the lead for good and Troy Caupain drilled a three with 10 minutes to play for a 48-40 edge. Jackson later finished the spurt with consecutive buckets for a 52-42 advantage with just over eight minutes remaining.

The Tigers got only as close as seven from there and Cincinnati put it away with nine straight points, including seven from the free throw line, in the final minutes to seal it.

"This is a huge win and we have to keep everything rolling," said Kilpatrick. "This is just a stepping stone for us and we have to keep it going as we continue conference play."

Cincinnati shot 58.3 percent in the second half and held Memphis to 24.3 percent from the field in the closing 20 minutes. The Tigers struggled from behind the arc all game, connecting on just 2-of-17 tries.

"Our defense was tremendous," said Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin. "The key is adjusting to their speed, especially on the road, and we made the proper adjustments. We could not afford to turn the ball over, and we take a lot of pride playing on the road. We were able hold them to tough shots."

Memphis opened an 8-2 lead early, but Cincinnati was undeterred and quickly responded with the next six. The Tigers again moved in front with a run of seven straight points for a 21-14 margin and held a 26-21 edge with just under 2 1/2 minutes to play in the first half before Cincinnati scored the last six for a one-point lead at the break.

"Cincinnati deserved to win that game," added Pastner. "They straight-up outplayed us today. It is hard to win a game when our guards shot they way they did today. Cincinnati made threes, and we did not. The 16 turnovers killed us, but we cannot shoot the way we did today and win basketball games."

Game Notes

The Bearcats snapped a four-game series losing streak and improved to 37-31 all-time against the Tigers ... Cincinnati and Memphis are again in the same league for the first time since 2005 when the Bearcats were also members of Conference USA. The two long-time rivals met for the 64th time as conference opponents, as both were previously part of the Missouri Valley (1968-70), Metro (1976-91), Great Midwest (1992-95) and Conference USA (1996-2005) ... Memphis remained one win shy of 1,500 as a program.