CINCINNATI (AP) — Sean Kilpatrick scored 22 points on Tuesday night and Ge’Lawn Guyn had a career-high 15, leading Cincinnati to its most lopsided win of the season, 86-50 over USC Upstate.
The Bearcats (7-0) went on a 21-point run in the second half, pulling away by forcing turnovers and hitting open shots. They’ve gotten at least 20 turnovers in each of their last four games.
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USC Upstate (5-4) opened the season with a 64-63 win at Virginia Tech and had won its last three games, allowing an average of 63 points. The Spartans also had been very good at holding onto the ball.
Not against Cincinnati’s pressure defense, though. The Spartans turned it over 22 times, setting up 33 of Cincinnati’s points. Ricardo Glenn led the Spartans with 12 points.
The Bearcats went 27 of 34 on free throws and held USC Upstate to 26 percent shooting from the field in the second half.
The main question was whether the Spartans could handle Cincinnati’s full-court pressure, which forced 23, 28 and 20 turnovers in its last three games. USC Upstate had turned it over fewer than 10 times in each of its last three games.
The Spartans had that many in the first half alone, helping Cincinnati stay ahead most of the way.
USC Upstate turned it over twice in its first three possessions. Guyn hit a pair of unguarded 3-pointers as Cincinnati pulled ahead 10-0.
The Spartans regrouped behind Torrey Craig, the Atlantic Sun’s leading scorer each of the last two seasons. The senior forward had a pair of baskets that cut it to 10-8. Craig finished with 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting.
Kilpatrick ended the comeback by passing inside to Justin Jackson for a three-point play, making a pair of free throws and hitting a 3-pointer for an 18-8 lead.
That’s how the half went, with the teams trading runs. The Bearcats led by as many as 13 but each time they’d get it to double-digits, the Spartans would sneak in a fast-break basket and trim it. Craig scored inside and Mario Blessing hit a 3-pointer that tied it at 32.
The Bearcats forced a pair of turnovers and closed the half with a 9-2 run for a 43-34 lead. The Spartans shot 50 percent from the field and dominated the boards 20-9 in the half, but had 10 turnovers that led to 16 of Cincinnati’s points and made the difference.
Cincinnati intensified its half-court defense at the start of the second half. USC Upstate missed seven of its first nine shots and had five more turnovers, helping Cincinnati pull away. The Bearcats went on a 21-point run that featured a pair of 3s by Kilpatrick.