Cashmere Wright (left) and Dion Dixon came up big to lift UC past Oklahoma at US Bank Arena on Thursday.
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.