Louisville and Cincinnati have been together playing basketball in other leagues before. In its second matchup in the American Athletic Conference, the top two teams in the league grinded-out an ugly, low-scoring contest as No. 11 Louisville knocked off No. 7 Cincinnati for a huge 58-57 road win.
Russ Smith (10 points, five assists, three steals) came up huge for the Cardinals in the game’s final possessions as he delivered two key assists to the post on pick-and-rolls before hitting the go-ahead jumper with 2.2 seconds left to seal the win for Louisville. The Cardinals deflected the ensuing Bearcat inbound attempt when Cincinnati was out of timeouts to secure the victory.
The two top AAC teams split the season series as each team won on the road against the other. Both teams are now at two losses in the AAC as the Cardinals are 12-2 and Cincinnati is 13-2.
Despite a slow-shooting first half from Sean Kilpatrick, who started 2-for-13 from the field, or the foul problems of Justin Jackson, Cincinnati quickly found itself down early before rallying for a 21-19 halftime deficit.
The late-game free throw shooting of the Bearcats kept them ahead of the Cardinals in a back-and-forth final few possessions that saw each team trade baskets after a slow-moving second half. Cincinnati went on a 10-o run with under four minutes remaining to get back into the game after a stagnant offensive stretch.
Kilpatrick finished with 28 points including a strong second half of 22 points while Montrezl Harrell brought tremendous consistent energy for Louisville on the glass, as a weak side shot blocker and as an offensive option on the pick and roll as he finished with 21 points.
This is a big road win for Louisville, who now has a road win over a really tough top-10 opponent. Can the Cardinals win the AAC and secure a good seed? And how will Cincinnati respond with two games against Connecticut and Memphis coming up after this?