Bearcats Hustle to Complete Comeback against Sooners
gobearcats.COM Cashmere Wright (left) and Dion Dixon came up big to lift UC past Oklahoma at US Bank Arena on Thursday.
gobearcats.COM
Cashmere Wright (left) and Dion Dixon came up big to lift UC past Oklahoma at US Bank Arena on Thursday.
gobearcats.COM

Dec. 30, 2011

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CINCINNATI – In its final nonconference game of the season, the University of Cincinnati men’s basketball team overcame a 12-point second-half deficit to defeat Oklahoma 56-55 Thursday evening at US Bank Arena.

Trailing 37-49, UC (10-3) outscored Oklahoma 19-6 over the final 5:58, capped off by junior point guard Cashmere Wright’s (Savannah, Ga./Urban Christian Academy) reverse layup with 8.8 seconds left.

Oklahoma (9-2) guard Steven Pledger misfired a three-point attempt from the left wing with one second left, securing the Bearcats win.

UC overcame a size disadvantage on the frontline and completed the comeback in the closing minutes with full-court pressure defense and a relentless effort on the boards.

When sophomore forward Justin Jackson (Cocoa Beach, Fla./Arlington Country Day) fouled out with 9:10 remaining, Cincinnati played the remainder of the game with a lineup that featured no player taller than 6-foot-5.

Cincinnati’s hustle compensated for the lack of height as UC out-rebounded the Sooners 9-7 after Jackson fouled out. Five of the nine rebounds came on the offensive end, led by two apiece from senior guard Dion Dixon (Chicago, Ill./Crane Technical Prep Common) and junior guard Jaquon Parker (Suffolk, Va./King's Fork), who nearly had a double-double after scoring 11 points and grabbing nine rebounds.

Trailing by 12 with 5:58 left in the game, UC went on an 8-0 run to get within four points at 49-45 with 3:28 left.

Oklahoma twice regained the lead after UC either tied the score or took the lead in the closing moments. When Parker knotted things score at 51-51 after making two free throws, Sooners forward Romero Osby hit jumper from the left elbow as the shot clock expired put OU ahead 53-51 with 49 seconds.

Wright came up huge when he drove the length of the floor and made a layup while getting fouled. His made free throw completed a three-point play and put Cincinnati up 54-43.

Sooners forward Romero Osby made a layup with 20 seconds left that put OU up 55-54 before Wright’s dramatic game-winner.

Dixon scored 18 points to lead the Bearcats offense, followed by redshirt junior guard Sean Kilpatrick’s (White Plains, N.Y./Notre Dame Prep) first-career double of 17 points and a career-high 10 rebounds.

UC went scoreless in the game’s first 5 minutes, 54 seconds and missed its first eight field goal attempts before Dixon made a fast-break dunk.

Fortunately for the Bearcats, Oklahoma started the game shooting 3 for 11 from the field and led just 6-2 at the 10:55 mark of the first half when Kilpatrick hit his first of three first-half treys and sparked a 9-2 UC run. Parker capped the run after nailing a three from the right wing to give UC a brief 14-13 lead with 7:18 left in the first half.

Oklahoma answered with a three from Steven Pledger at the 7:02 mark that began a 7-0 run and increased their lead to 20-14.

After Jackson committed his third foul with 4:20 left in the first half and with Gaines sidelined with two fouls, Cincinnati had to use a lineup that featured no player taller than 6-feet-5.

On the first possession with a five-guard lineup, Kilpatrick hit his third three of the game to get Cincinnati within four at 20-17 with 3:59 remaining in the first.

Oklahoma took advantage of Cincinnati’s lack of height by scoring four points in the paint in the closing minutes of the half.

Dixon’s fast-break layup at the 2:01 mark made the score 22-19 before the Bearcats went into halftime trailing Oklahoma 24-19. The five-point deficit could have been larger for UC, which shot just 7 for 32 (21.9 percent) in the first half, had its defense not limited Oklahoma to 34.5 percent (10 for 29) shooting.

The Bearcats will open BIG EAST Conference play at 7 p.m. Sunday when it travels to face Pittsburgh at Petersen Events Center. The game will be televised live on FOX Sports Ohio.