The Cincinnati Bearcats have solidified their position as the top defensive team in the American Athletic Conference with a 69-53 victory over the Memphis Tigers. With the win, the unranked Bearcats improve to 13-2 and 2-0 in the AAC while the No. 18 Tigers fall to 10-3 and 1-1 in the AAC. Most importantly, the Bearcats finally beat a ranked, formidable opponent and, as a result, will most likely be ranked for the first time this season when the next polls come out. With the loss, Memphis will most likely drop to the 23-to-25 range in the rankings if they appear in the top-25 at all.
Holding a 27-26 lead at the half, Cincinnati turned it on in the second half, outscoring Memphis to the tune of 42-27. After Tigers point guard Joe Jackson scored nine of his team’s first 15 points, the Cincinnati defense made the appropriate adjustments, something that head coach Mick Cronin has been known to do.
Sean Kilpatrick scored 18 points, right around his average, to lead the Bearcats in scoring, while Justin Jackson added 13, Shaquille Thomas added 10 and Troy Caupain and Kevin Johnson both added seven off the bench.
Memphis shot 21-of-63 from the field, good for 33.3 percent for the game, including a horrendous 2-of-17 or 11.8 percent from three-point range. They also had 16 turnovers. Shaq Goodwin had just six points, and Austin Nichols had just two. Geron Johnson shot just 2-for-13 for seven points, and Chris Crawford shot 2-for-11 for just five points. That just won’t cut it.
The Bearcats have proven that they are one of the best defensive teams in all of college basketball. If they can also produce this kind of solid offensive output in coordination with their defense, they can undoubtedly win the AAC Tournament. Their next game comes on Tuesday when they take on the Houston Cougars in Houston at 9:00 p.m. ET.