University of Louisville

Cincinnati men upset Louisville 63-54

Louisville guard Elisha Justice stole the ball from Cincinnati's Cashmere Wright in the second half. Wright led the Bearcats with 20 points.
Louisville guard Elisha Justice stole the ball from Cincinnati's Cashmere Wright in the second half. Wright led the Bearcats with 20 points. AP

CINCINNATI — Coach Mick Cronin kept telling the Bearcats to believe in themselves even as they dropped three of four, even as star forward Yancy Gates found himself suspended and then benched in the second half of a loss to St. John's on Sunday.

"I told them, 'We're 19-6; we need to be proud of it, need to act like it,' " Cronin said. "We don't need to let anybody define us individually or as a group that's outside of our locker room."

His team responded with the defining win of its season. Cashmere Wright scored 20 points, Sean Kilpatrick added 18, and Cincinnati bolstered its NCAA Tournament résumé with a 63-54 victory over No. 16 Louisville on Wednesday night.

Gates added eight points and six rebounds in 30 energetic minutes off the bench for the Bearcats (20-6, 7-6 Big East), who smothered the Cardinals to reach the 20-win plateau for the first time since 2006.

"Everybody doubts us on the court — we don't care," Gates said. "It doesn't matter to us."

Terrence Jennings led Louisville (19-7, 8-5) with 12 points, but the Cardinals turned over the ball 15 times and never got into a rhythm in the face of Cincinnati's relentless defense.

Louisville shot 47 percent from the floor but made just four of 17 three-pointers, five below its season average.

Cronin, who spent two years as an assistant at Louisville under Rick Pitino, likened the Cardinals' ability to get steals and knock down three-pointers in a hurry to "Batman with his armor and Superman with his cape."

"If you take away who they are, they're just Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne," Cronin said.

Cincinnati made the Cardinals look ordinary for long stretches. The Bearcats never trailed and led by as many as 15 early in the second half before Louisville cut the deficit to 43-38 with 13:15 to play.

The Cardinals have put together a number of big rallies over the last six weeks, including an 18-point comeback against Marquette that jump-started their season. Cronin countered the momentum swing by quickly calling a timeout.

Cincinnati scored the next seven points to push the lead back to 12, then snuffed any hopes of another dramatic comeback when Wright hit a difficult twisting layup just before the shot clock expired to give Cincinnati a 56-43 lead with 6:21 to go.

CINCINNATI 63, No. 16 LOUISVILLE 54

LOUISVILLE (19-7) — Jennings 7-10 0-0 14, Van Treese 1-2 0-0 2, Knowles 4-10 0-0 9, Siva 2-6 3-5 8, Kuric 4-9 0-0 9, Buckles 2-3 0-0 5, C. Smith 2-4 0-0 4, Dieng 0-0 1-2 1, Justice 0-1 0-0 0, Marra 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 23-49 4-7 54.

CINCINNATI (20-6) — Wilks 0-0 0-0 0, Bishop 3-5 1-2 8, Thomas 1-2 0-0 2, Wright 7-15 4-5 20, Davis 1-4 0-0 2, Dixon 1-3 0-1 2, Jackson 1-2 1-3 3, Kilpatrick 5-8 6-7 18, Gates 2-8 4-6 8. Totals 21-47 16-24 63.

Halftime—Cincinnati 36-24. Three-point goals—Louisville 4-17 (Buckles 1-2, Siva 1-3, Knowles 1-3, Kuric 1-4, C. Smith 0-1, Justice 0-1, Marra 0-3), Cincinnati 5-14 (Kilpatrick 2-4, Wright 2-6, Bishop 1-2, Davis 0-2). Fouled out—Siva. Rebounds—Louisville 28 (Kuric 8), Cincinnati 29 (Bishop, Gates 6). Assists—Louisville 11 (Knowles 4), Cincinnati 12 (Dixon, Jackson 3). Total fouls—Louisville 20, Cincinnati 14. A—11,511.

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