Cincinnati rallies for 56-55 win over OklahomaCincinnati guard Cashmere Wright, right, brings the ball up the court against Oklahoma guard Sam Grooms in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
CINCINNATI, Ohio (AP) Point guard Cashmere Wright made a driving layup with 8.8 seconds left, and Cincinnati rallied from a 12-point deficit to a 56-55 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday night.
The Bearcats (10-3) trailed by 12 with 6 minutes to go, but went to a full-court press and got a three-point play and the winning layup by Wright in the closing minute at a downtown arena where Cincinnati has won its last 17 games.
Oklahoma (9-2) had a chance to win it, but top shooter Steven Pledger missed a long 3 with a few seconds left. Pledger, who averaged 19.8 points and led Division I guards with a 57.5 shooting percentage coming in, was just 4 of 12 for 11 points against the Bearcats.
Andrew Fitzgerald led the Sooners with a season-high 18 points. Romero Osby added 12.
Dion Dixon had 18, and Sean Kilpatrick added 17 for Cincinnati. Wright made only 3 of his 14 shots, including the two biggest ones.
His three-point play gave Cincinnati only its second lead of the game, 54-53, with 39 seconds left. Osby made a layup that put Oklahoma back ahead with 20 seconds to go. Wright then drove past Osby for the winning layup.
Cincinnati hasn't lost at US Bank Arena since 1997. A crowd of 4,439 - the smallest for a Bearcats home game this season - reveled in the late comeback.
Cincinnati was playing its first challenging game since a 23-point loss at Xavier on Dec. 10, which ended with a brawl and eight players suspended in all. With starting forward Yancy Gates and center Cheikh Mbodj serving six-game suspensions, the Bearcats have reinvented themselves, going to a four-guard offense that worked well against overmatched opponents.
The Bearcats won handily against Wright State (6-8), Radford (1-11), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-9) and Chicago State (0-13), scoring 297 points in the last three games. Gates and Mbodj will serve out their suspensions in their Big East opener at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Against the Sooners, the fire-away approach fizzled until the final minutes. Cincinnati shot only 27.9 percent from the field and went 7 of 30 from behind the arc.
The Bearcats led for only 17 seconds in the first half, which ended with Oklahoma ahead 24-19. Cincinnati had as many field goals as turnovers - seven each - in the half.
Fitzgerald had six points during a 16-5 run that gave the Sooners a double-digit lead that vanished down the stretch. Oklahoma twice missed the front end in the bonus, fueling a 14-2 spurt by Cincinnati that made it come down to the final minute.
Oklahoma had 18 turnovers in all that set up 16 points for Cincinnati.