Sean Kilpatrick and Yancy Gates each scored 18 ranked Syracuse, 71-68, in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament.
It was the second time in as many days Cincinnati knocked off a ranked opponent. Cincinnati (24-9), coming off a 72-70 double-overtime win over 13th- ranked Georgetown in the quarterfinals on Thursday, scored the game's first seven points against the Orange and never trailed.
Still, it was a dramatic finish, this despite the Bearcats nearly blowing a 17-point lead.
Dion Waiters, who had 28 points and went 7-of-10 from beyond the arc, drained a three with 17.1 seconds left to get the top-seeded Orange (31-2) within 68-66.
Jaquon Parker then made 1-of-2 free throws at the other end, but Cincinnati's Cashmere Wright fouled Waiters before he could get off a tying three-point try. Waiters made both shots, but Justin Jackson was alone at the other end of the floor for the game-sealing jam with a second left.
Dion Dixon and Wright each had 11 points for the fourth-seeded Bearcats, who will face either third seed Notre Dame or No. 7 seed Louisville in the title game Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. It will be first appearance in a Big East final for the Bearcats.
Despite the loss, Syracuse will still likely get a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament when the field is disclosed Sunday night.