PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Sean Kilpatrick scored a season-high 29 points and No. 15 Cincinnati staved off a Temple comeback to remain undefeated in the American Athletic Conference with an 80-76 victory Sunday.
After the Bearcats (19-2, 8-0 AAC) had blown all of a 19-point lead and were tied at 76, Kilpatrick hit the game-winning free throws with 7.2 seconds to play.
Temple attempted to tie the game again, but Josh Brown’s layup was blocked by Jermaine Sanders with a half-second to play. Kevin Johnson added two more free throws for the Bearcats, who had their nation-best streak of holding 27 consecutive opponents under 70 points ended.
Dalton Pepper had a career-high 33 points, including the 3 that tied the game at 76 with 36.9 seconds left, for the Owls (5-13, 0-7), who have lost eight straight.
Cincinnati’s Justin Jackson played just 6 minutes after appearing to injure his leg.
The Bearcats are off to their best start since 2001-02 and their best start in league play since they went 8-0 in Conference USA that same season.
Temple’s losing streak is its longest since the 1975-76 team lost 11 straight. The four straight home losses are its most since 2001-02.
This was Cincinnati’s second win over Temple in two weeks. The Bearcats won the first meeting at home, 69-58, on Jan. 14.
The Owls’ second-half comeback was spearheaded by Pepper, who made seven of his eight 3-pointers and scored 27 points in the second half. At one stretch he scored 19 of 21 Temple points.
Kilpatrick scored 12 of Cincinnati’s first 13 points, made the Bearcats’ first four field goals, and had 16 points in the first half. He finished 9 of 19 from the field, including 5 of 11 from 3-point range, and had eight rebounds. His previous season-high was 23, which he had scored three times, once against Temple.
The game was tied at 19 in the first half before Cincinnati went on a 17-7 run over the next 8 minutes to take a 36-26 halftime lead.
The Owls shot 26.9 percent from the field in the first half (7 of 26) and were 2 of 12 from beyond the arc. The Bearcats went 5 for 14 on 3s in the first half.
Both coaching staffs wore sneakers as part of Suits and Sneakers Awareness Weekend, a Coaches vs. Cancer effort aimed at raising awareness and funding for the American Cancer Society.