No. 25 Marquette falls to Cincinnati 71-69 in OT
CINCINNATI (AP) - Marquette overcame one of its worst first halves, setting up another last-shot finish. For the first time in weeks, it didn't go in.
Sean Kilpatrick scored a career-high 36 points - seven of them in overtime - while rallying Cincinnati to a 71-69 victory on Saturday night that ended the 25th-ranked Golden Eagles' streak of six straight wins.
Marquette (13-4, 4-1) managed only 13 points in the first half and never led until overtime. The Golden Eagles' loss leaves No. 6 Syracuse as the only team still unbeaten in Big East play at 5-0. The Orange knocked off No. 1 Louisville 70-68 earlier Saturday.
Marquette's six-game winning streak had included two overtime victories, a one-point victory and a four-point win. The Golden Eagles couldn't pull out another tight one.
"I think everyone thinks I'm exaggerating when I say every game is going to be like this, but this is our margin and this is who we are,'' coach Buzz Williams said. "I don't think that's going to change. I think that if we're going to win, it's going to be a one- or two-possession game.''
Vander Blue led Marquette with 19 points. Davante Gardner scored 15 points - 13 of them on free throws, including a pair with 2.9 seconds left in regulation that tied it at 63.
Gardner also had a three-point play that tied it again at 69 with 14.8 seconds left in overtime.
"We started slow,'' Gardner said. "That is not our game. We usually come out fast. It was like a boot camp session in the second half.''
After his three-point play tied it, Kilpatrick brought the ball upcourt, saw the middle of the floor open up and drove for a left-handed layup that ended the Bearcats' streak of three straight losses at home. Marquette's Junior Cadougan missed a driving jumper before the buzzer.
Cincinnati (16-3, 4-2 Big East) pulled it out without point guard Cashmere Wright, who sprained his right knee during a 75-70 win at DePaul on Tuesday night. Without him, the Bearcats depended almost solely on Kilpatrick for points.
It's unclear whether Cincinnati will have Wright back for a game on Monday afternoon at Syracuse. He didn't suit up against Marquette and walked with a slight limp as he left the court after warm-ups.
"He's day-to-day,'' coach Mick Cronin said. "If he's out there and he's not 100 percent, I'm not letting him play.''
For one game, the Bearcats got by without the senior point guard, who averaged 16.8 points and four assists in the last six games, shooting 51 percent from the field.
His injury put more pressure on Kilpatrick, Cincinnati's leading scorer at 17.3 point per game. The shooting guard has been in a shooting slump lately, going only 12 of 40 from behind the arc in the six previous games.
He still didn't have his touch at the outset on Saturday, when two of his first four shots from behind the arc smacked off the backboard. He finished 11 of 23 from the field, including 5 of 14 behind the arc.
Cincinnati opened in a zone defense that caught Marquette off-guard - the Bearcats usually loath it. Marquette shot only 17.9 percent from the field and missed all nine shots from behind the arc while falling behind 29-13 at halftime, the fewest points the Bearcats have allowed in any half during Cronin's seven seasons.
Cronin figured it was the best strategy against Marquette, which is one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the league.
"We're a man-to-man team,'' Kilpatrick said. "That's probably what they were practicing for all week. They come in and we play zone, so that might have thrown them off.''
After managing only 13 points in the first half, the Golden Eagles scored 50 in the second.
Blue hit Marquette's first 3-pointers early in the second half, making three in a row to cut the lead to 31-24. After missing all nine of their shots from behind the arc in the first half, the Golden Eagles made five of their first six in the half to close the gap.
Kilpatrick repeatedly blunted Marquette's comeback by hitting shots. He had 25 of Cincinnati's first 50 points. Marquette didn't tie it until Trent Lockett's tip-in with 45 seconds left it 61-all.
Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay