UC Bearcats earn 8th straight win with 71-51 victory over Rutgers

 

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Freshman point guard Troy Caupain scored 14 points on Saturday, and Cincinnati overcame fouls that sapped its front line while pulling away to a 71-51 victory over Rutgers, its season-high eighth win in a row.

The Bearcats (15-2, 4-0 American Athletic) have held their last 24 opponents under 70 points, the longest active streak in the nation. Rutgers (7-9, 1-2) didn't have a field goal in the final 11:45, managing only three points on free throws.

Cincinnati is 4-0 in league play for first time since 2003-04, when it was in Conference USA.

Justin Jackson has been a key to the surge. He's had three double-doubles during the winning streak, averaging 14.1 points while shooting 60 percent from the field. Jackson had 11 points and seven rebounds despite foul trouble.

Rutgers was on the road for the first time in more than a month. The Scarlet Knights played their previous six games at home, including an 83-76 loss to Louisville on Jan. 4 in their last game. Myles Mack had a team-high 17 points Saturday.

The Scarlet Knights fell to 1-8 all-time in Cincinnati.

Sean Kilpatrick leads the AAC with 18.5 points per game, but his outside shot has been off-target, forcing him to rely on layups and free throws. He scored 16 points - nine of them on free throws - while going 3 of 13 from the field and 1 of 10 from beyond the arc.

In his last five games, Kilpatrick is 20 of 66 from the field and 4 of 33 beyond the arc.

Neither team led by more than four points in the first half, which had seven ties and eight lead changes.

Rutgers forward Junior Etou hurt his left shoulder and went to the bench with 14:50 left in the half. He returned 5 minutes later and had a fast-break layup and a follow-up basket for a 22-19 lead. The Scarlet Knights pushed the pace and repeatedly got layups - 12 fast-break points in the half.

Rutgers made 11 of its first 22 shots, keeping it close. By contrast, Cincinnati went 5 minutes, 46 seconds without a field goal in the first half, managing only five free throws. The Bearcats worked the ball inside, drew fouls under the basket and went 15 of 20 from the free-throw line in the half.

Jackson opened the second half with an alley-oop dunk off a pass from Titus Rubles, then committed his third foul and went to the bench. He got back in and picked up his fourth foul with 12:04 left.

Caupain hit a pair of 3s and made a fast-break layup off a steal, and Kilpatrick made four free throws for a 52-42 lead with 13:14 to go. Rutgers' Craig Brown, who had a career-high 17 points in the loss to Louisville, picked up his fourth foul with 13:57 to go.

Cincinnati's front-line problems increased when Rubles picked up his fourth foul with 7:38 left. The Bearcats slipped into a zone defense to protect its lead and its thin front line.

Greg Lewis and Wally Judge fouled out for Rutgers, evening up the depth problems for the final 5 minutes.

Cincinnati took control with a 12-1 run for a 64-49 lead with 3:49 left. The Scarlet Knights missed 5 of 6 free throws during the spurt.

Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay

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