PROVIDENCE - Kadeem Batts scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds and Providence held off a late charge by No. 17 Cincinnati and beat the Bearcats 54-50 in a Big East game Wednesday night.
The Friars (12-11, 4-7) blew almost all of a late 13-point lead as Cincinnati (18-5, 6-4) shaved the lead to one point but could never get over the top as Providence won its second game in a row.
The game featured a matchup of Providence's Bryce Cotton, the Big East scoring leader, and Sean Kilpatrick, third in the league in scoring. But Cotton failed to score for the first 24:12, then scored nine points in 53 seconds and hit two big free throws late. And it was his defense that forced Kilpatrick to lose control of the ball for a backcourt violation with two seconds left.
Kilpatrick had 13 points, but was just 5-for-14 from the floor, 1-for-8 from 3-point range, as the Bearcats were held to their season low in points. They were 3-for-13 from 3-point range and 11-for-20 from the foul line.
Batts missed two free throws with 13.4 seconds left to give the Bearcats a chance to tie, but then made two after the Kilpatrick turnover.
The Bearcats had been 4-1 on the road in the conference, 8-1 away from home (counting neutral-court games) on the season.
JaQuon Parker had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Bearcats.
The Friars led by one when Cotton's explosion propelled them to what would become a 17-5 run that produced the 13-point lead. The Cincinnati offense could do nothing against the aggressive Providence defense, but all that changed and a 10-0 run brought the Bearcats to within three.
Providence won despite going 2-for-17 from 3-point range and 10-for-17 from the foul line.
The shootout between two of the Big East's top three scorers never came off in the first half, when Kilpatrick rallied to finish with six points and Cotton went 0-for-4 from the floor, all 3-pointers, and was scoreless.
The Bearcats had a couple of offensive rebounds on their first possession, which ended when Cashmere Wright hit a 3-pointer, the only 3 for either team in the first half.
The game was tied 8-8 when the Friars ran off 10 straight points to start a 16-4 run. It was 20-10 when Batts scored with 7:08 left in the half, Cincinnati then holding Providence to six points the rest of the half to trail by five at the break.
NOTES: Besides leading the Big East in scoring, Cotton also was leading the conference and was ninth in the country in 3-pointers made per game. ... The Bearcats go home and open a three-game homestand against Pittsburgh Saturday, while the Friars have a week between games before visiting South Florida next Wednesday. ... Providence held Villanova to 27.5 shooting percentage from the floor in the road win Sunday. ... Vincent Council came in needing 19 assists to pass Ernie DiGregorio and become Providence's all-time leader. ... Cincinnati entered the game sixth in the nation in blocked shots, 11th in field goal percentage defense, 12th in rebounding margin and 21st in scoring margin.