- Associated Press - Saturday, January 18, 2014

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Victor Rudd thinks South Florida let a chance to beat a ranked opponent slip away.

Sean Kilpatrick scored 18 points to help lead No. 19 Cincinnati past South Florida 61-54 on Saturday.

“This is a game we felt like we should have won,” Rudd said. “We finally outrebounded somebody. We played good in the zone for a while.”

South Florida (10-8, 1-4) got 15 points from Javontae Hawkins and 12 by Rudd. Bulls point guard Anthony Collins missed his eighth game in a row due to left knee soreness.

“I thought we really competed in this game,” USF coach Stan Heath said. “Gave ourselves a chance to win. Just came up short.”

Shaquille Thomas added 10 points for the Bearcats (17-2, 6-0 AAC), who have won 10 straight games.

Cincinnati extended its streak of holding an opponent to under 70 points to 26 consecutive games, which is the nation’s longest active stretch. The school record of 35 games that spanned three seasons started with the Bearcats’ 71-59 1962 NCAA championship game victory over Ohio State.

“It’s a really good overall team,” Heath said. “You can just tell everyone of their guys is really committed on that defensive side.”

Cincinnati was outrebounded 36-30 by the Bulls, who had 13 turnovers. The Bearcats turned the ball over 11 times.

“It wasn’t pretty for us,” Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. “Give South Florida credit for that. I thought they did a great job keeping us off the offensive glass, which is really a big part of our offense.”

Kilpatrick gave Cincinnati a seven-point lead at 56-49 with a layup with 3 minutes to go.

Hawkins’ 3-pointer pulled USF within 58-54 with 70 seconds left, but the Bulls were unable to score again the rest of the way.

After South Florida’a Chris Perry tied it at 47, Jermaine Sanders made a long-distance jumper to give Cincinnati a 50-47 lead with 8 minutes to play. Titus Rubles’ layup extended the Bearcats advantage to 52-47 3 minutes later.

“Different people made the plays when they needed one,” Rudd said.

Thomas had 10 points as Cincinnati took a 30-26 halftime advantage.

Cincinnati, which blew a 10-point lead, responded late in the opening half thanks in part to two late 3s from Ge’Lawn Guyn.

Hawkins connected for a 3 and then completed a 15-3 run with a layup that put South Florida ahead 24-22 with just over three minutes remaining in the opening half.

Kilpatrick had the first five points in the game to help Cincinnati go up 9-2 early on. Thomas’ rebound basket and a layup by Kilpatrick made it 19-9 midway through the first half.

Kilpatrick moved past Roger McClendon (1985-88) into fifth place on Cincinnati’s career scoring list.

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