CINCINNATI — Several games of stagnant offense finally caught up with No. 8 Cincinnati.
Sean Kilpatrick had his shot swatted away just before the buzzer Thursday night, allowing New Mexico to hold on for a 55-54 victory that handed the Bearcats their first loss.
And none of them was all that surprised.
“The last two games, we’ve been in a (shooting) drought and it came down to that,” Kilpatrick said. “But we’ll get through it. You can’t go undefeated throughout the whole season.”
Cincinnati (12-1) moved up to No. 8 this week — its highest ranking in nine years — and was trying to go 13-0 for only sixth time in school history. The Bearcats couldn’t salvage a tight game against a team known for knocking off top teams.
The Lobos (13-1) have won six of their last seven games against ranked teams, leaving them 14-6 against the Top 25 during coach Steve Alford’s six seasons. They beat Connecticut earlier this season.
Cincinnati’s loss left Duke, Michigan, Arizona and Wyoming as the only unbeaten teams in Division I.
Alex Kirk, New Mexico’s 7-foot center, swatted away the Bearcats’ last chance to pull the game out. Kilpatrick passed the ball inbounds from the baseline to center Cheikh Mbodj with 4.5 seconds left, then got the ball right back to the right of the basket.
He had two options: Take the quick shot if it’s there, drive to the basket if it’s not. He caught the pass and thought he had just enough room to get the shot off.
He never saw Kirk’s hand coming.
“I thought I had him,” Kilpatrick said. “I could have drove, but I didn’t.”