CINCINNATI – Rashad Bishop matched his career high with 20 points and led a late run that swept Cincinnati to a 72-56 victory over Rutgers on Wednesday night.
Bishop made a 3-pointer and a fast-break dunk that completed an eight-point run and put the Bearcats (18-3, 5-3 Big East) in control with 3:23 to go. Yancy Gates added 11 points and 12 rebounds for Cincinnati, which has won its last 13 home games — its best streak in six seasons.
Jonathan Mitchell scored 20 points for the Scarlet Knights, who failed in their attempt to win back-to-back Big East road games for the first time in 11 years.
Rutgers (12-8, 3-5) scored only 26 points in the second half against the Big East's toughest defense.
Rutgers had won its last two games, including a 66-60 victory at Seton Hall that put the Scarlet Knights in position to make a couple of breakthroughs in Cincinnati. They hadn't won three straight Big East games since the 2003-04 season, and hadn't won back-to-back road games in conference play since 1999-00.
They've had no success lately against the Bearcats, who have won the last five in their series.
Cincinnati pulled out to an early five-point lead, but couldn't get much out of its full-court press. The Bearcats have a deep bench — they substituted four players at one timeout — and are at their best when forcing turnovers. Rutgers was ready for it.
The Scarlet Knights had only four turnovers in the first half and shot 50 percent from the field against one of the nation's stingiest defenses. Cincinnati leads the Big East and is fourth nationally, allowing only 56.5 point per game.
Mitchell's 3-pointer and three-point play put Rutgers ahead 18-15. Dane Miller made a 15-foot fadeaway and a tip-in that gave Rutgers its biggest lead, 26-20. Dion Dixon's two free throws and 3-pointer highlighted a closing run that put the Bearcats up 31-30 at halftime.
Cincinnati's pressure started paying off in the second half.
The Bearcats didn't score for the first 4 minutes, 33 seconds, missing five field goals and a pair of free throws. Sean Kilpatrick's 3-pointer broke the slump and started a seven-point run that included a technical foul on Rutgers coach Mike Rice for arguing a call.
The Scarlet Knights turned it over seven times in the first 10 minutes, helping Cincinnati pull ahead 45-36 on Larry Davis' putback following a steal.
After Rutgers cut it to three, Bishop helped the Bearcats pull away. He hit a 3-pointer from the left wing and had a fast-break dunk that made it 60-48 and gave him 20 points.