CINCINNATI (AP) — Sean Kilpatrick and JaQuon Parker scored 19 points apiece, and Cincinnati turned up the defensive pressure and emerged from a two-game slump by beating Villanova 68-50 on Tuesday night.
Cincinnati (19-6, 7-5 Big East) has relied on Kilpatrick for most of its offense lately with point guard Cashmere Wright on the mend. Kilpatrick has averaged nearly 21 points over the last seven games, leading the Bearcats in scoring each time.
Wright had 11 points on 3-of-14 shooting, his second-best point total in his last seven games.
Villanova (15-10, 6-6) had won its last two games with high-percentage shooting. The Wildcats had a tough time getting open against Cincinnati’s trapping defense and turned it over 19 times. JayVaughn Pinkston led Villanova with 12 points.
The Wildcats went only 3 of 13 behind the arc and 7 of 15 on free throws.
The Wildcats were coming off one of their best defensive games, a 68-40 win over South Florida on Saturday that represented the fewest points Villanova had ever allowed in a Big East game. Cincinnati turned the 19 turnovers into 21 points as it pulled away.
Villanova’s offense had been at its best in the previous two games as well, shooting over 50 percent from the field both times. The Wildcats had made more than half their shots only twice in the previous 22 games.
Their offense never got into a flow, scoring only 21 points in the second half.
Cincinnati was coming off low-scoring, back-to-back losses that dropped it out of the Top 25. The Bearcats lost 54-50 at Providence, throwing away a chance at a final shot when Kilpatrick lost his dribble, then went the final 9 minutes, 21 seconds without a field goal in a 62-52 home loss to Pitt last Saturday.
Kilpatrick missed all seven of his shots in the second half of the loss to Pitt. He was cold at the outset on Tuesday, missing his first four shots from behind the arc. His back-to-back 3s — one from the left wing, the other from the right — helped Cincinnati pull ahead 32-24 in the first half.
Villanova cut it to 32-29 at halftime with a weird play. Ryan Arcidiacono picked up a loose ball by the sideline and flipped it toward the basket. Pinkston caught the ball and flipped it into the basket just before the buzzer.
Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin was most upset about his team’s lack of rebounding and defense in the ragged loss to Pitt. The Bearcats were much more intense this time, trapping Villanova’s guards and contesting every shot.
The Bearcats’ defense started taking a toll in the second half. Villanova missed seven of its first eight shots and had six turnovers in the first 7 minutes. Kilpatrick’s three-point play and Ge’Lawn Guyn’s floater in the lane made it 44-33, the first double-digit lead of the game.
Wright’s second 3-pointer of the game pushed it to 53-37. Villanova never got closer than 12 the rest of the way.
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