NCAA Basketball American Athletic Conference BasketballCincinnati Bearcats

Nationally-Ranked Cincinnati Bearcats Narrowly Escape Temple Owls

Sean Kilpatrick

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 19 Cincinnati Bearcats have established themselves as one of the best defensive teams in the country. Finally cracking the top-25, they weren’t expecting a terribly challenging game from the Temple Owls, but they sure got a much harder test than everyone thought they would get.

In the end, they were able to hold on for a 69-58 win and moved to 16-2 on the year, including 5-0 in the American Athletic Conference, while the Owls fell to a miserable 5-10 and 0-5 in the AAC.

Sean Kilpatrick kept up his typical ways and put up 23 points on 6-of-13 shooting from beyond the arc, while teammate Justin Jackson was a force on the interior, putting up 15 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks. Titus Rubles added 13 points and 11 rebounds as well to give Cincinnati three dominant performances on the night. All of Rubles’ points came in the second half.

Temple was in the game throughout the duration of the contest up until about four minutes to go in the second half, when a pair of clutch threes put Cincinnati ahead for good.

While the Bearcats are an exceptional defensive team, they will certainly need to improve on the other side of the ball if they want to make a deep NCAA Tournament run. Coach Mick Cronin has the luxury of three athletic, productive players in Kilpatrick, Rubles and Jackson, and they should be in the mix at the top of the AAC at the end of the regular season.

Dan Karpuc is an American Athletic Conference basketball writer for