PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Sean Kilpatrick scored 24 points and No. 15 Cincinnati clinched at least a share of the American Athletic Conference regular-season title with a tough 70-66 win over Rutgers on Saturday.
Kilpatrick converted a three-point play and drove the lane for a layup in the final 68 seconds as the Bearcats (26-5, 15-3) rallied from a late deficit against the Scarlet Knights (11-20, 5-13).
Justin Jackson had given Cincinnati a 65-64 lead with 1:46 to play, scoring underneath after Kadeem Jack blocked his original shot in the paint.
Kilpatrick pushed the lead to four points with his back-door layup and free throw. The senior closed out the scoring with 17 seconds to play after Kerwin Okoro scored on a goaltending call against Jackson.
No. 11 Louisville can tie Cincinnati for the conference title if it beats Connecticut later Saturday.
Cincinnati Bearcats guard Sean Kilpatrick battles for loose ball during the first half at the Louis Brown Athletic Center.
Jackson finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds despite second-half foul trouble. The Bearcats did not have another player in double figures, but they limited Rutgers to two points in the final 3:16.
J.J. Moore had 19 points and Jack added 15 and 12 rebounds for the Scarlet Knights, who rallied from an eight-point second-half deficit to threatened Cincinnati’s chances for its first share of a league title since winning Conference USA in 2003-04. Myles Mack added 10 points and nine assists.
Trailing 63-58 after Kilpatrick’s 3-pointer rolled in with 6:12 to go, Rutgers held Cincinnati scoreless for more than four minutes and took a 64-63 lead on a jumper by Mack with 3:18 remaining.
Both teams missed shots and free throws — Jackson missed two with 2:54 left — over the next four possessions before Jackson scored underneath to put Cincinnati ahead for good.
Cincinnati was up eight points with less than 13 minutes to play when Rutgers started to make its home finale exciting.
Jack followed a miss by Moore, igniting a 9-0 run that gave the Scarlet Knights their first lead since midway through the first half. Okoro hit a high-arcing 3-pointer, and Moore scored on a layup and then hit two free throws for a 55-54 lead with 9:06 to go.
Neither team led by more than five points the rest of the way.