You had to look for the little things to appreciate Cincinnati's 44-43 win over Pittsburgh Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Things like players fighting for offensive rebounds and quick ball movement to work the defense out of position. What the first game of the Jimmy V Classic doubleheader lacked in aesthetics it made up for in competitiveness. The biggest margin was five points, and from the 12:43 mark in the second half, it was never wider than three.
Pittsburgh, leading by a point with 22 seconds left, missed two free throws. Two timeouts later, Cincinnati's leading scorer, Sean Kilpatrick, drove to the rim but short-armed the shot. The ball was tipped to his teammate Titus Rubles, who flipped it in with 4.2 seconds left. The Panthers called timeout, but the best they could muster was a double-clutch heave by Cameron Wright from just inside half court. It was Pitt's first loss of the season after a 10-0 start in which its average margin of victory was 21 points.
Cincinnati shot 20-for-53 and Pitt hit just 11 of 35. The Bearcats (8-2) grabbed nearly half of their misses, a strength for them all season but still an accomplishment against a Pitt team that regularly ranks among the best in the nation in rebounding.
"[Bob] Huggins is the best offensive rebounding coach in the history of college basketball," Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said, speaking of his former boss. "You need three guys . The first two guys take the contact and the next guy gets the ball. We practice it."
The Panthers were aided by their 29 trips to the free throw line -- they hit 19 of them -- compared with Cincinnati's 1-for-3 showing.
This was the first matchup since these schools left the Big East. Pitt has moved to the ACC; Cincinnati to the American Athletic Conference.
Florida 77, Memphis 75: In an up-tempo game with plenty of above-the-rim highlights, No. 16 Florida (8-2) beat No. 15 Memphis (7-2) in the second game of the Jimmy V Classic. Florida shot 52 percent and was led by Casey Prather, who scored 22 points. Joe Jackson's drive into the lane in the closing seconds was denied by several Florida defenders.