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Kirkland scores with 16.9 seconds left

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Armein Kirkland suggested a way to crack one
of the nation's stingiest defenses, then made the shot that made it
happen.

Kirkland worked free against a smaller defender and made a short
bank shot with 16.9 seconds left, giving No. 13 Cincinnati a 64-62
victory over Louisville on Thursday night in the Conference USA
quarterfinals.

Taquan Dean's rushed 3-pointer at the buzzer was off the mark,
providing a second consecutive dramatic finish this season for the
longtime rivals.

Cincinnati (22-6) lost by 27 points at Louisville in January,
ending its season-opening winning streak at 13. The Bearcats needed
overtime to beat the Cardinals in the rematch on their home court.

Playing in a downtown arena near campus, the Bearcats overcame
Francisco Garcia's career-high 28 points and one of the nation's
stingiest defenses. It came down to one play suggested by Kirkland.

During a timeout to set up Cincinnati's last shot, the 6-foot-8
forward told coach Bob Huggins that he was being guarded by Dean, a
6-foot-3 point guard who is limited by a groin injury.

The idea: Let Kirkland get in position under the basket for a
pass.

"It's just a play we have in practice," Kirkland said. "We
didn't run it at all in the game. I said, 'Coach, I've got a
mismatch,' and we've only run that play a couple of times in 20-odd
games."

Louisville (20-9) surrounded power forward Jason Maxiell when he
got the ball near the free-throw line, leaving Kirkland open to
catch a pass and make an easy shot that snapped the game's seventh
tie.

Cincinnati shot 48.9 percent from the field, the best mark for
any of Louisville's opponents this season. Still, the Cardinals had
one last chance to pull it out.

Louisville didn't call timeout after Kirkland's basket, hoping
it could get Garcia open one last time in transition. Instead, the
Bearcats double-teamed him, forcing Dean to hurry a 3-pointer that
was way off the mark.

"I just rushed," said Dean, 1-of-8 on 3-point attempts.
"There was more time than I thought. I faded back."

Louisville coach Rick Pitino pointed out that Dean hasn't been
able to practice because of the groin strain, which affects his
shot. He had no choice but to take the final one.

"There's not a person in America I'd rather have take the shot
than Taquan Dean," Pitino said.

Cincinnati was ready to let anybody but Garcia get his hands on
the ball with the game on the line.

"I don't think they knew what they were going to do," Kirkland
said. "We scored, and they had to bring it up and do something
real quick."

Maxiell scored 15 points and Kirkland had 12 as the Bearcats won
the game up-front.

Garcia, who aggravated a sprained ankle in Louisville's
first-round win over East Carolina, showed no lingering problem as
he went 10-of-14 from the field.

He hit a pair of 3s and a pull-up jumper as Louisville surged
ahead 15-4 in the first six minutes. Then, he picked up his second
foul, went to the bench and watched the Cardinals' offense
collapse.

Louisville fell into a 1-for-16 funk, going 10:05 without a
field goal. Cincinnati took advantage by working the ball inside to
its brawnier front line to build a four-point lead.

Luke Whitehead, also recovering from a sprained ankle, ended
Louisville's drought by scoring off a drive with 46 seconds left in
the half. Nate Daniels' 3-pointer gave Louisville a 25-23 halftime
lead.

There were six ties and five lead changes in the first 11
minutes of the second half, when both defenses dug in and made runs
tough to come by.

Nick Williams, who lost his job as the Bearcats' point guard
down the stretch, hit a 3-pointer from the left corner to spark
10-1 spurt that gave Cincinnati its biggest lead, 50-43.

Louisville pulled even with 48 seconds left, when Maxiell
grabbed the net and was called for goaltending on Dean's
off-the-mark layup attempt.

Center Robert Whaley, who quit the Bearcats out of frustration
over his limited playing time, was on the bench in street clothes
for the first time since he left last month. Several players quit
the team last season, but were welcomed back.