- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

CINCINNATI (AP) - The unbeaten Bearcats blocked a season-high 10 shots and made half of their own shots from the field, which is usually a successful combination. They couldn’t close it out in the end.

Kellen Dunham scored 24 points while leading a second-half comeback, and Roosevelt Jones hit a bank shot with a tenth of a second left, rallying Butler to a 78-76 victory over 17th-ranked Cincinnati on Wednesday night.

The Bearcats (7-1) stood on the floor with stunned expressions as the Bulldogs (5-1) celebrated under the basket.

“I would not have been happy, even if we’d have won the game,” coach Mick Cronin said. “Butler was the tougher team tonight. You guys know how much that drives me crazy. That’s really hard for me to digest.”

Butler trailed for most of the second half - down by as many as eight - before Dunham hit consecutive 3s that set up a back-and-forth finish. His two free throws with 17.2 seconds left made it 76-73.

Cincinnati tied it on (7-1) Octavius Ellis’ three-point play with 4.7 seconds left - he was fouled on a putback. Jones picked up a loose ball on a full-court inbound pass and drove through a crowd of three defenders for the winning basket.

“The basketball gods, I guess,” Cincinnati guard Troy Caupain said. “One-on-three and he made the layup. It just hurts to lose like that.”

The Bulldogs won the first game between the schools since the 1997 NCAA tournament.

Ellis had 16 points and 12 rebounds for Cincinnati, which blocked a season-high 10 shots and held a lead for most of the second half before falling apart at the end. The Bearcats turned the ball over 14 times, setting up 16 points.

Butler’s 78 points were the most allowed by the Bearcats this season.

“It’s going to humble us,” said Caupain, who had 12 points and six assists. “We can’t lose games like this. Some teams we’re going to blow you, some games are going to come down to the wire. These are the games you’re going to have in March.”

The Bulldogs opened with an 11-3 run for their biggest lead. Freshman Jacob Evans III came off the bench and hit a pair of 3s that got the Bearcats going, and Cincinnati led by as many as six points before taking a 33-28 lead into halftime.

The Bearcats’ defense had an effect, blocking eight shots and holding the Bulldogs - one of the nation’s top offensive teams - to 33 percent shooting from the field in the opening half. The Bearcats rank fourth nationally in defense, holding four of their first eight opponents to 50 points or less.

Cincinnati got the ball inside to start the second half and converted three three-point plays while pulling ahead 50-42. Caupain had a 3-pointer and a three-point play during the spurt.

Dunham led Butler’s comeback. His layup off a spin move cut it to 53-51 midway through the half, but Evans hit another 3-pointer that blunted the rally.

The Bulldogs got the lead for the first time in the second half when Dunham hit back-to-back 3s for a 67-66 advantage with 4:44 left. There were six lead changes and two ties down the stretch.


Forward Andrew Chrabascz picked up his fourth foul with 13 minutes left, sending Butler’s third-leading scorer to the bench for several minutes. He fouled out with 6:51 to go, having scored 11 points.


Ellis and Jones got technical fouls for shoving as the teams turned to head down the court following a turnover with 1:09 left in the first half. Cincinnati’s bench got a technical for arguing a foul call with 11:39 left.


Butler: The Bulldogs’ only loss was to Miami 85-75 in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Nov. 22.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats’ previous season high was eight blocks.


Butler: The Bulldogs host Indiana State on Saturday. Their game at Cincinnati was their only true road game so far this season.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats host Morgan State on Sunday, their last game before facing crosstown rival No. 12 Xavier on Dec. 12.


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

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