Providence 64

(11-12, 4-8 Big East)

Cincinnati 66

(18-9, 7-6 Big East)

    8:00 PM ET, February 17, 2006

    Fifth Third Arena, Cincinnati, Ohio

    1 2 T
    PROV 32 3264
    CIN 33 3366

    Top Performers

    Providence: H. Hill 17 Pts, 10 Reb, 4 Blk

    Cincinnati: J. White 22 Pts, 7 Reb

    Cincinnati 66, Providence 64

    CINCINNATI (AP) -- The free throw hit the rim, then headed for the backboard. Who knew where it would go next?

    Devan Downey did.

    The freshman point guard wasn't surprised when the first of his two free throws hit everything but the net, then parted it with 3.4 seconds remaining Friday night. Downey made the next free throw cleanly, and Cincinnati got one more fortunate bounce before holding on for a 66-64 victory over Providence.

    "I knew I was going to get the shooter's touch," Downey said.

    The resurgent Bearcats (18-9, 7-6 Big East) certainly had the touch when it mattered.

    Cincinnati overcame 1-for-13 shooting by power forward Eric Hicks and a final shot by Sharaud Curry that ricocheted side-to-side in the rim before falling away, ending a game that came down to those two final bounces.

    Both went the Bearcats' way.

    "In this league, you need some kind of luck sometimes," said Downey, who had 16 points.

    James White scored 22 points to lead Cincinnati. The short-handed Bearcats built upon their 82-65 win at Syracuse on Wednesday, getting their first back-to-back victories since Jan. 4-7.

    When Curry's final shot fell away, the 13,127 fans stood and chanted for interim coach Andy Kennedy, who has the Bearcats in line for a Big East tournament berth in a season that started with Bob Huggins' ouster.

    Cincinnati plans to wait until after the season to pick its next coach, prompting the crowd to do a little lobbying for Kennedy after the final buzzer. It took some slick coaching and a little luck to pull this one out.

    "Our front line went 5-for-25 (shooting), yet somehow our guys found a way to win," Kennedy said. "This is a resilient group."

    Providence (11-12, 4-8) showed some grit, pulling ahead by seven points midway through the second half. There were three ties down the stretch, the last at 64 on Charles Burch's two free throws with 1:12 left.

    After Providence's Donnie McGrath missed a 3-pointer, Downey got the ball and headed down the court, drawing a foul from McGrath as he went in for a layup.

    Downey's first free throw bounced around before going down. The second one went through cleanly. After a timeout, Providence got the shot it wanted -- Curry's floater from just inside the free-throw line that didn't go down.

    "We battled as hard as we could battle," coach Tim Welsh said. "We outrebounded Cincinnati by 10 on their home court and held them to 31 percent shooting. We just couldn't get the ball to go down when we needed it to go down. The last bounce didn't go our way."

    Herbert Hill led Providence with 17 points, and McGrath had 16.

    The Bearcats held a slim lead throughout the first half, when both offenses sputtered and neither team could put together much of a run.

    Cincinnati had trouble getting shots inside Providence's 2-3 zone, which collapsed on Hicks whenever he got the ball. Providence wasn't much better, shooting 35 percent in the half against a defense that swatted away six of its shots.

    Jihad Muhammad's 3-pointer completed a seven-point spurt that gave Cincinnati its biggest lead, 23-14.

    After trailing by a point at halftime, the Friars made it a point to get the ball inside to the 6-foot-10 Hill, who is 3 inches taller than anyone in Cincinnati's lineup. He scored the Friars' first seven points of the half.

    Six-foot-11 Randall Hanke made back-to-back baskets during an 11-0 run that gave Providence a 54-47 lead midway through the second half. With Hicks still scoreless from the field, Cincinnati had to get its baskets from long range.

    Muhammad made a pull-up jumper and a pair of 3's to keep the Bearcats close, and Hicks' dunk off a pass from Cedric McGowan -- the forward's first basket after nine misses -- put Cincinnati back ahead and set up the final-bounce finish.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 64 66
    FG Made-Attempted 26-66 (.394) 23-74 (.311)
    3P Made-Attempted 2-12 (.167) 8-23 (.348)
    FT Made-Attempted 10-14 (.714) 12-16 (.750)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 15 (0/0) 19 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 7 9

    2005-06 Season

    » Feb 17, 2006 @CIN 66, PROV 64Recap