Cincy wins share of AAC title, coin flip for No. 1 seedMar 8, 2014 - 10:42 PM Piscataway, NJ (SportsNetwork.com) - Sean Kilpatrick scored five of his 24 points in the final 1:08 as No. 15 Cincinnati secured a share of the inaugural American Athletic Conference regular-season title with a 70-66 win over Rutgers.
The Bearcats were down 64-63 after a 6-0 Rutgers run. Myles Mack used a shot fake and hit from just inside the arc on the right wing to give the Scarlet Knights the lead with 3:18 remaining.
Justin Jackson and Kilpatrick carried Cincinnati down the stretch.
After putting back his own miss from in the paint, Jackson threw a bounce pass to Kilpatrick, who drew a foul on a layup. His free throw made it 68-64.
Rutgers then benefited from a questionable goaltending call to draw within two. On the next Cincinnati possession, Kilpatrick, a finalist for the Wooden Award, slashed through the lane for a game-sealing layup.
"I'm really proud of our guys for being able to grind out a victory," said Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin.
Jackson finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Bearcats (26-5, 15-3 American), who were joined atop the league standings by 11th-ranked Louisville after the Cardinals routed No. 19 Connecticut on Saturday.
Cincinnati won a coin flip to claim the top seed for next week's conference tournament.
J.J. Moore had 19 points and Kadeem Jack added 15 with 12 rebounds for Rutgers (11-20, 5-13), which ended the regular season having lost six of seven.
"We learned how to compete with integrity, we learned how to compete with composure; we're coming together as a team," Rutgers head coach Eddie Jordan said. "Our kids are doing terrific off the floor and the process is successful. Is it a step ahead? A step behind? I think we're right on target. Obviously we would have liked to win more games and maybe have a few upsets, but I've never given up on our players through the tough times and I don't think they've given up on me."
Cincinnati got off to a sluggish start, missing its first seven shots.
Trailing 13-5, the Bearcats found their groove offensively and went on a 21-5 run. The surge ended with a Kilpatrick 3-pointer as Cincinnati took a 26-18 lead with 5:35 remaining.
Rutgers answered with consecutive treys by Malick Kone and Kerwin Okoro, but Kilpatrick scored six straight points to restore Cincinnati's eight-point lead at 32-24.
A Ge'Lawn Guyn 3-pointer put the Bearcats up 35-28 at halftime.
Rutgers made two quick baskets to open the second half, trimming its deficit to three and forcing an early Cincinnati timeout.
Kevin Johnson hit a three out of the stoppage, and the Bearcats went on grab their lone double-digit lead at 50-40 on Jermaine Sanders' put-back layup with a little more than five minutes gone.
The Scarlet Knights refused to go away and moved in front behind a 15-4 run. Two Moore free throws made it 55-54, Rutgers' first lead since 15-13.
Cincinnati won its first league title since 2003-04, when it was in Conference USA ... The Bearcats have won nine of the last 10 meetings against Rutgers and lead the overall series 16-4 ... The Scarlet Knights will be the No. 7 seed in next week's conference tournament.
- CINCINNATI: 70
Mar 8 1:59 PM
- CINCINNATI: 35
Mar 8 12:44 PM
- CINCINNATI: 0
1st Half - 20:00
Mar 8 12:03 PM
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