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Bulls battle Bearcats in AAC fracas

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Updated: 2/02 10:21 am

Cincinnati, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - The 13th-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats continue their run through the American Athletic Conference when they battle the South Florida Bulls in a rematch at Fifth Third Arena on Sunday afternoon.

Cincinnati is one of the hottest teams in the nation right now, with wins in 13 straight games. The most impressive win of the streak came on Thursday, when the Bearcats pulled out a 69-66 decision on the road over 12th-ranked Louisville. They are now a sparkling 19-2 overall, with a perfect 8-0 mark in AAC play. They will play host to Connecticut next time out.

USF has been much less successful this season, with its overall record currently standing at 11-10. The Bulls did earn a big win last Tuesday over SMU (78-71), ending a four-game losing streak and giving them their second conference win in eight tries. USF will be on the road against in-state foe UCF next.

The Bearcats captured a 61-54 win on the road over USF in the first meeting this season. Cincinnati has won four of the last five matchups, increasing its lead in the all-time series to 25-8.

Victor Rudd dropped in 21 points and the Bulls connected on 53.1 percent of their shots from the floor to upset SMU. USF handled the Mustangs inside, with a 29-24 advantage on the glass and a 38-28 scoring edge in the paint.

Unfortunately, the Bulls are rarely so effective offensively. The Bulls are last in the AAC in scoring (67.4 ppg) and just eighth in the league in field goal percentage (.436). Rudd (14.7 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and Corey Allen Jr. (11 ppg, 3.2 apg) are the only players on the team averaging in double figures. Allen Jr. had a fine game against SMU, adding 18 points, while Chris Perry (9.5 ppg) made a major impact off the bench with 18 points of his own. However, Allen had tallied only 19 points in the previous four games combined. Perry has been more consistent recently, with five double-digit efforts in the last seven contests.

Sean Kilpatrick erupted for 28 points and the Bearcats hit on 63.2 percent of their attempts from the floor, while going a perfect 14-of-14 at the free- throw line in the second half to hold off Louisville. Cincinnati won despite being doubled up in points off turnovers (26-13).

Cincinnati usually earns victories thanks to its stout defensive performance. The Bearcats are ranked fifth in the country in scoring defense (57.3 ppg), while limiting teams to just 38.6 percent shooting. Kilpatrick (19.5 ppg) often carries the offensive responsibility by himself. He is the leading scorer in the AAC by 1.5 ppg, using his 6-foot-5 frame to create space for his shot and get into the lane. Justin Jackson (11.1 ppg, 7 rpg, 3.3 bpg) is a two-way player who dominates as a shot blocker, but can also be counted on offensively, as he proved by tipping in a basket with 1:41 remaining against Louisville that put the Bearcats ahead for good.

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