CINCINNATI — Trevon Scott scored 15 points and Cincinnati recovered from back-to-back losses by knocking off No. 21 Tennessee 78-66 on Wednesday night.
The Bearcats (7-4) got the better of a back-and-forth game by getting inside one of the country’s stingiest defenses for close-up baskets. Forty-six of Cincinnati’s points came in the paint.
Keith Williams had a steal and layup during a 9-0 run that put the Bearcats in control 67-57 with 3:27 left. Williams finished with 11 points and five rebounds.
For a second straight game, Tennessee’s Rick Barnes came up short again in his attempt to get career victory No. 700. He’d be only the 22nd coach to reach that mark in Division I.
The Volunteers (7-3) were coming off a 51-47 loss to No. 13 Memphis that highlighted their offensive shortcomings. This time, the biggest problems were on a defense that hadn’t given up 70 points in a game this season.
Tennessee has lost back-to-back games for the first time in two seasons. John Fulkerson had a team-high 14 points. The Volunteers were only 3 of 15 from beyond the arc.
The Bearcats led 38-34 after a wide-open first half full of turnovers. They shot 64% from the field, with Jaevin Cumberland making four of his five shots to lead the way.
The Volunteers dug in defensively in the second half — Cincinnati missed eight of its first 12 shots — and neither team managed to get much of an advantage. There were two ties and four lead changes before Cincinnati went on its pivotal run.
Tennessee: The Volunteers have struggled at times on offense, but their defense has been consistent. They came in fifth nationally in field goal defense, allowing opponents to shoot 36.2%. The Bearcats made 56.4%, the most by a Vols’ opponent this season.
Cincinnati: The Bearcast’ biggest questions revolve around Jarron Cumberland, the returning American Athletic player of the year. He played the last two games with a sore hip and shot only 27 percent from the field. Against Tennessee, he had 10 points and six turnovers before fouling out.
Tennessee hosts Jacksonville State on Saturday.
Cincinnati plays Iowa on Saturday at the United Center as part of the Chicago Legends event. The Bearcats lost to Iowa 79-72 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Columbus, Ohio last season.