Louisville, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - Sean Kilpatrick scored 23 of his 28 points in the second half and No. 13 Cincinnati edged No. 12 Louisville, 69-66, on Thursday.
Shaquille Thomas and Justin Jackson each contributed 11 points, with the latter adding nine rebounds for the Bearcats (20-2, 9-0 AAC), who snapped a two-game losing streak to the Cardinals and grabbed a firm grip on first place in the American Athletic Conference with its 13th consecutive win overall.
"It was a good win," Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin said. "We have won 13 in a row now and, when you can beat the second place team in your conference, you have to be happy with that."
Montrezl Harrell scored a team-high 18 points, while Russ Smith and Luke Hancock each chipped in with 16 points for Louisville (17-4, 6-2), which also had its four-game conference winning streak halted.
Cincinnati came storming out of the break, outscoring Louisville 16-7 before the first media timeout of the second half to take a 44-27 lead.
Terry Rozier, who finished with 10 points, knocked down a 3-pointer out of the timeout to ignite a 14-0 surge that saw Louisville pull within three after a Smith three-point play with 13:59 remaining.
Cincinnati quickly pushed its lead back to the halftime margin of eight following a three-point play from Kilpatrick.
A 12-2 Louisville run gave it the lead for the first time since the opening minutes, as Smith opened and closed the spurt with 3s for a 64-61 edge.
Kilpatrick answered two minutes later with a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to one and Jackson gave Cincinnati the lead by tipping in a Kilpatrick miss with 1:41 to go.
Kilpatrick added four free throws in the closing seconds to secure the win for the Bearcats.
"We had them rattled and we let the game get away from us," Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said of his team faltering down the stretch. "I'm proud of the effort, but I'm not proud of the defensive execution or the rebounding."
Smith opened the game with an acrobatic layup in traffic and Cincinnati followed with an 8-0 run that Kilpatrick capped off with an uncontested dunk.
Hancock made a layup to cut the deficit to 9-7, but Cincinnati used another 8-0 run to extend the cushion.
Ge'Lawn Guyn made a trey to give the Bearcats a 15-point lead with 2:46 to play in the first half, but the Cardinals trimmed the deficit to eight, 28-20, with a 7-0 sprint to end the half.
Louisville was 8-for-26 from the field and 2-for-13 outside the paint in the first half with just one 3-pointer made.
Kilpatrick was 11-for-11 from the free throw line ... Cincinnati committed 20 turnovers ... The Bearcats shot 23-for-47 (48.9 percent) from the floor ... Cincinnati outrebounded Louisville 36-25.