Cincinnati holds off UConn 64-60 to keep pace in AAC race
By PAT EATON-ROBB
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Cane Broome grew up dreaming of hitting a big shot at the XL Center.
The local kid did that on Sunday, draining a late 3-pointer that helped Cincinnati to a 64-60 road win over UConn.
"I grew up watching UConn," said Broome, a senior transfer from Sacred Heart who starred at East Hartford High School. "We don't have no NBA teams here, so all I knew was UConn. To be able to hit a shot like that against them, it's big."
Keith Williams scored 12 points and Justin Jennifer and Broome each added 10 points for the Bearcats, who have won 11 of their last 12. The only loss during that stretch came at No. 9 Houston, which leads Cincinnati (23-4, 12-2 American) by a game in the race for the AAC title.
The Bearcats took a three-point lead at the halftime when Tre Scott followed a missed Jarron Cumberland 3-pointer with a layup. The stretched that into a 16-3 run in second half, going up by 15 points and seemingly taking control of the game.
"We got that lead and I'm looking up and I'm just thinking, `Why is there so much time on the clock,'" said Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin.
UConn came all the way back, using a 16-0 run to turn a 50-35 deficit into a one-point lead on a pair of free throws by Vital with just over five minutes to play.
The teams went back and forth before the 3-pointer from the top of the key by Broome, which came at the shot-clock buzzer and gave Cincinnati a 62-58 lead with 12 seconds to play.
A pair of free throws from Williams with five seconds left sealed it.
"That's what a program looks like that's fully formed and has been together and understands what it is," said UConn coach Dan Hurley. "It's about winning."
The Bearcats are attempting to win back-to-back conference titles for the first time since capturing the Conference USA crown in 2001 and 2002.
UConn dropped below .500 for the first time this season. They need one more win to match their total from a year ago.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats have won seven straight over the Huskies and nine of their last 10 meetings.
UConn: Jalen Adams, UConn's leading scorer at 17 points a game, has not played since suffering a knee injury early in the Huskies loss at Temple on Feb. 6. The Huskies are 0-5 since his injury.
UConn's 1999 team was honored at halftime on the 20th anniversary of the program's first national title. Former coach Jim Calhoun told the crowd that those players showed Connecticut what a real basketball team looked like.
Cincinnati outrebounded UConn 40-30 and made 15 of 16 free throws. UConn was just 13 of 21 from the line.
Cincinnati's Jarron Cumberland, who came in averaging 19 points a game, finished with just eight. Cronin said teams have been knocking his star around, making it hard for him to get his shot.
"If we could guard everybody in our league the way Jarron was guarded the last two games, we'd give up about 22 points a game, as good as we are on defense," he said. "If we were allowed to be as physical as the last two teams have been against Jarron."
Cincinnati: The Bearcats travel to Dallas to face SMU on Wednesday.
UConn: The Huskies travel to Kansas to take on Wichita State on Thursday.
Updated February 24, 2019