College basketball notebook: No.8 Cincinnati suffers first loss
Sean Kilpatrick had two options: take the quick shot if it’s there, or drive to the basket if it’s not. He caught the pass and thought he had just enough room to get the shot off. He never saw Alex Kirk’s hand coming.
Kirk scored 15 points and blocked Kilpatrick’s shot just before time expired last night, preserving New Mexico’s 55-54 victory over eighth-ranked Cincinnati — the Bearcats’ first loss.
New Mexico (13-1) rallied in the second half behind Kirk, its 7-foot center. He hit a three-pointer, got a team-high seven rebounds and slapped away Kilpatrick’s jumper in the final seconds.
Kilpatrick had inbounded the ball from the baseline to center Cheikh Mbodj with 4.5 seconds left, then got the ball right back with the two options.
“I thought I had him,” Kilpatrick said. “I could have drove, but I didn’t.”
Kirk figured that Cincinnati’s top scorer was going to let it fly and managed to get there just as the ball left his hands.
“I knew if I went out, it would be pretty difficult for him to get a shot over me and Tony Snell,” Kirk said. “I went out with my hands up, and he was forced to take a tough shot.”
That’s how Cincinnati’s perfect record went away. The Bearcats (12-1) moved up to No.8 this week — their highest ranking in nine years — and were trying to go 13-0 for the sixth time in school history. But they couldn’t salvage a tight game against an opponent known for knocking off top teams. The Lobos have won six of their past seven games against ranked teams, leaving them 14-6 against Top 25 opponents during coach Steve Alford’s six seasons. They defeated Connecticut earlier this season.
“To come in here and hold them to 54 points, that’s pretty pleasing for a basketball coach,” Alford said.
Cincinnati’s loss left Duke, Michigan, Arizona and Wyoming as the only undefeated teams in Division I. The Bearcats missed 21 shots inside the paint and shot 31.3 percent from the field. Kilpatrick had a team-high 15 points but was only 5 of 22 from the field.
“Things have been too easy for us,” Bearcats coach Mick Cronin said. “We were going to get taught a lesson sooner or later. It manifests itself in many ways. Our inside finishing is beyond soft. You hold a team to 55 points, you should be able to win the game.”
The Lobos were coming off a 70-65 home loss to South Dakota State that ended their four-week stay in the top 25. New Mexico won despite getting only six points — out of 11 attempts — at the free-throw line. The Lobos came in averaging 29.6 percent of their points from the line — most in the nation — and 21.5 points on free throws. They have made more free throws (281) than their opponents have attempted (211).
Akron 83, Texas Southern 68 — Demetrius Treadwell had a double-double, Zeke Marshall scored 21 points and Akron won its third straight by rolling over visiting Texas Southern in a nonconference game.
Treadwell had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Zips (7-4), and Marshall added eight rebounds and five blocks. Texas Southern (1-12) has lost 10 straight games.