Memphis, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - Sean Kilpatrick scored 21 points with nine rebounds as No. 13 Cincinnati held off upset-minded Central Florida, 61-58, in the quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament.
Justin Jackson netted 12 of his 14 points in the first half to go along with eight rebounds and four blocks for the Bearcats (27-5), who will play UConn in the semifinals.
Isaiah Sykes paced the Knights (13-18) with 21 points and nine rebounds, while Kasey Wilson and Calvin Newell scored 11 and 10 points, respectively, in defeat. Central Florida reached the quarters with a 94-90 double-overtime win over Temple on Wednesday.
Cincinnati won both regular season meetings against the Knights by an average of 23 points.
The Knights trailed by the halftime margin of three when Cincinnati scored seven straight to take a 45-35 lead just before the midway point of the second half.
UCF answered with an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to two, and the Knights tied it at 53-apiece after a Sykes three-point play with just under three minutes to play.
Staphon Blair fouled Jackson inside the paint and Blair was then called for goaltending after he swatted the ball as it was on its way down to the rim. Jackson missed the ensuing free throw and the Bearcats grabbed a two-point lead with 1 1/2 remaining in the game.
Titus Rubles committed a flagrant foul after clobbering Justin McBride, but McBride missed both free throws and Wilson missed a 3 to conclude the possession.
Kevin Johnson followed with trey with 36 ticks on the clock and make it a five-point game as the Bearcats held on.
"Kevin Johnson made a big shot for us, obviously, in the game and we were able to get enough stops to win," said Bearcats coach Mick Cronin. "But other than that, I don't know how much we did well or how much we have to be proud of."
The Knights jumped out of the gate to a 10-4 lead until the Bearcats settled in. Kilpatrick scored eight straight points for Cincinnati during a 22-4 surge that followed the initial Central Florida run.
Kilpatrick scored 10 points total during the burst and Jackson, who added eight during the run, capped it with a jumper to give the Bearcats a 26-14 lead with over seven minutes to play in the first half.
Cincinnati would go cold from that point, with Jackson converting a dunk and Kilpatrick making a pair of free throws as the Knights closed to within three, 30-27, at the break.
"(We) had a great opportunity down the stretch," said UCF coach Donnie Jones. "Cincinnati is a great team, Mick has done a terrific job with them."
Cincinnati shot 22-for-48 from the field and held UCF to 20-of-53 shooting ... The Bearcats had a 33-31 edge on the boards ... UCF shot 4-for-18 from beyond the arc ... Cincinnati had a 12-2 advantage on the fastbreak.