Cincinnati Bearcats (27-5; 15-3) played a tight game last night against 9th seeded UCF winning 61-58. While Connecticut (25-7; 12-6) cruised to victory over No. 19 Memphis in the following game 72-53. Now the two teams will face each other for the third time this season and this game means a lot to both.
This rubber match features two of the conferences premiere players with All-American Sean Kilpatrick and Shabazz Napier. Napier the American's Player of the Year, last night finished with 11 points. Kilpatrick meanwhile had 21 points, nine rebounds, four assists and 2 steals last night.
In the first match up at Fifth Third Arena (Cincinnati) the Bearcats were able to fight off the Huskies in a 63-58 victory on Feb. 6. Kilpatrick lead the Cats' with 26 points adding 12 rebounds and six assist. Justin Jackson finish with 15 points and six rebounds. UC held the Huskies to just 39-percent from the field and 24-percent from the three-point range.
Napier put up 16 points in that game but the Cats' held the Huskies Niels Giffey to only 10 points. Last night Giffey led the Huskies in scoring with 24 points, while adding nine rebounds against Memphis.
Both teams had great shooting performances in their wins last night. UC shot 46-percent from the field, 33-percent from three and 62-percent from the free throw. UConn would shoot 53-percent from the field, 50-percent from three and 62-percent from the free throw.
Tonight's game will definitely come down to which team has the better shooting performance. In their second meeting at the XL Center (Hartford, CT) on Mar. 1, UC fail short to UConn 51-45. UC shot a horrible 27-percent from the field, led in scoring by Kilpatrick with 16 points. The Huskies eliminated Jackson from being effective, holding him to just three points. Napier led the Huskies with 18 points, while the team shot only 31-percent from the field. It was a game of defense, Huskies forced UC into 20 turnovers scoring 20 points off of those.
As the tournaments top seed the Bearcats look to provide a better shooting performance and cut down on turnovers. Keys to victory all year for UC has been to not turnover the ball over, shooting a high percentage and playing sounded defense. When the ball tips at 9 p.m. it will be an atmosphere of March Madness as UC looks to take the 1-1 series to 2-1. The winner will advance to the first ever American Athletic Conference Finals; facing either No. 5 Louisville or Houston.