Cincinnati was playing without starting point guard Cashmere Wright, but Sean Kilpatrick responded with a career-high 36 points, including the game-winner, lifting the Bearcats to a 71-69 overtime victory over No. 25 Marquette in a wild game Saturday at Fifth Third Arena.
Kilpatrick's driving layup with 4.2 seconds remaining in OT put the Bearcats ahead. A tip-in attempt by Marquette fell off the rim at the buzzer.
Cincinnati (16-3, 4-2 Big East) was playing without Wright, who averaged 15.1 points and 3.7 assists before spraining his knee Tuesday at DePaul. Titus Rubles added 12 points for the Bearcats.
Marquette (13-4, 4-1 Big East) trailed by 16 points at halftime before its furious rally in the second half led by Vander Blue, who scored 14 of his 19 points after halftime.
Marquette's Davante Gardner scored 15 points, including 13 from the free throw line. He hit two free throws with 2.9 seconds left to send the game into overtime. His 3-point play with 14.8 seconds left in OT tied the score 66-66, setting up Kilpatrick's heroics.
The Golden Eagles never led in regulation. Todd Mayo's 3-pointer to begin the overtime period put them ahead for the first time, 66-63.
Playing without its starting point guard, Cincinnati's offense relied on rebounding to create scoring opportunities early in the game, outrebounding Marquette 26-18, including 10-7 on the offensive end, in the first half.
Jermaine Sanders started strong in his first career start, connecting on a pair of 3-pointers to put the Bearcats ahead 8-2.
A 3-pointer by Kilpatrick put Cincinnati ahead 13-3. At that point in the first half, Marquette was just 1-for-11 shooting.
Kilpatrick's third 3-pointer made the score 25-9, extending a 10-0 run for the Bearcats. He led all scorers with 13 first-half points.
Tempers flared with 4:45 remaining in the first half when Marquette's Davante Gardner and UC's David Nyarsuk got tangled up. The officials sent both teams to the bench before ruling a double-technical foul on both players.
Marquette shot just 17.9 percent in the first half and trailed by 16 points at halftime.
NOTES: An MRI showed no damage, but Wright was held out of practice both Wednesday and Thursday. He watched pregame warm-ups on Saturday but did not participate. ... Bearcats sophomore forward Sanders made his first career start Saturday. ... Marquette's 13 points in the first half Saturday were a season low and fewest since scoring 20 in a 49-48 win over Georgetown on Jan. 5.