No. 8 Cincinnati beats No. 24 Pitt, 70-61
Cincinnati had overcome an eight-point halftime deficit and turned the tables by outrebounding Pitt in the second half when the Bearcats had a sequence that helped make history at Petersen Events Center.
With the shot clock winding down, the Bearcats twice missed shots only to get an offensive rebound. They worked the clock for 1:43 before Titus Rubles fed 7-footer David Nyarsuk for a dunk that doomed Pitt.
“That was a big play,” Pitt swingman Lamar Patterson said. “We didn't come up with it both times. It just hurt, hurt us big time. That's one of the things we've got to fix. When it comes down to it, we've got to get those. That was the turning point of the game.”
No. 8 Cincinnati became the first top-10 team to beat Pitt at the Petersen Events Center, rallying for a 70-61 victory Monday in the Big East Conference opener.
The Bearcats did it by beating the No. 24 Panthers at their own game: winning the battle of the boards (37-32) and coming up with a strong shooting performance (13 of 24) in the second half.
Fifth-year senior guard Cashmere Wright scored a game-high 18 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field, including two treys, to lead Cincinnati (13-1, 1-0) past Pitt (12-2, 0-1). Wright also made 6 of 7 free throws. Sean Kilpatrick added 16 points, and Jaquon Parker 13 for Cincinnati, which was coming off a 55-54 loss to New Mexico.
“We wanted to slow the game down and find a comfort level,” Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. “The more the game went, the more comfortable we got on the offensive end.”
Talib Zanna led Pitt with 16 points, Patterson added 13 and Cameron Wright 10, including a 15-footer with nine seconds left in the first half that capped an 8-0 run to break a tie and give the Panthers a 34-26 halftime lead.
Cincinnati used a 7-0 run to take its first lead of the game when Rubles drove the left lane and scored while drawing a foul on Steven Adams for a three-point play and a 45-43 edge with 10:14 remaining.
Nyarusk's dunk gave the Bearcats a 62-55 lead with 1:39 remaining. Pitt cut it to 62-59 when Zanna scored and was fouled, and Patterson tipped in Zanna's missed free throw. Tray Woodall stole the ensuing inbounds pass and was fouled, but missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon called the loss “disappointing in every way.”
“The rebounding, defense, missed free throws while they made theirs,” Dixon said of Cincinnati making 25 of 35 free throws to Pitt's 15 of 25. “It just kind of all added up, and they came out with the win.”
Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.