Cincinnati, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Russ Smith capped off a thrilling finish by hitting a jumper with 2.2 seconds remaining to send 11th-ranked Louisville to a 58-57 win over No. 7 Cincinnati.
The Cardinals led by nine with 5:13 remaining, but Cincinnati stormed back with an 11-0 run. Sean Kilpatrick, who reached a rare milestone in Bearcats history, sank five consecutive free throws at the end of the burst that gave the home team a 53-51 lead with 1:40 left.
After two Justin Jackson free throws made it 55-52, Smith dished to Montrezl Harrell for a dunk with 1:16 remaining. On the next Cincinnati possession, Wayne Blackshear blocked Kilpatrick's bid and an off-balance Titus Rubles wound up going out of bounds with the ball. Rubles was trying to call a timeout, but one wasn't forthcoming.
Smith then found Harrell inside again and his layup put the Cardinals on top 56-55 with 26.3 seconds to go.
Troy Caupain was then fouled on a drive and he made both free throws to give the lead back to Cincinnati.
Smith, however, took a return feed from Terry Rozier and hit a shot from the left wing inside the arc, ending the Bearcats' 19-game home winning streak.
"I thought it was a great shot, but I thank Terry because he could have taken the shot, but threw it to Russ," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "I thought Russ's pass to Montrezl was a huge play for us. Like Connecticut and Memphis this was a difficult crowd to battle with, but we kept going and pulled out the win."
Harrell posted 21 points and 10 rebounds for Louisville (23-4, 12-2 AAC), which has won six straight since losing at home to Cincinnati last month.
Kilpatrick scored 22 of his 28 points in the second half for the Bearcats (24-4, 13-2). He joined legend Oscar Robertson as only the second player in school history to reach 2,000 career points.
"Obviously a hard fought game, better described as a blood bath," Bearcats coach Mick Cronin said. "We came up one point short. I got my disappointments, but at the end of the day we didn't get the job done down the stretch. Defensively we didn't get the job done; we had a three point lead and gave up two layups. That was our watershed moment."
No other player reached double digits for Cincinnati, which was held to 28.6 percent shooting.
Louisville went on a 13-0 run in the first half, but the Bearcats, following the scoring drought, ended the frame on a 10-1 surge. Caupain hit a short baseline jumper at the buzzer to trim Cincinnati's deficit to 22-19.
In the second half, the Cardinals, down 30-27, turned up the defensive pressure, forcing three turnovers during a 9-0 burst.
Rozier knocked down a trey to give Louisville a 47-37 lead with 8:58 to play.
Kilpatrick now has 2,018 points. Robertson amassed 2,973 points from 1958-60 ... Rozier had 11 points and Smith supplied 10 ... The Cardinals shot 56.0 percent in the second half ... Cincinnati lost for only the second time in its last 19 games ... The Cardinals had a 34-14 advantage in points in the paint ... Saturday's game marked the 99th meeting between the schools. Louisville improved to 56-43 in the series.