Freshman Lance Stephenson was fouled with less than a second left and made both free throws Wednesday night, rallying Cincinnati to a breakthrough 71-69 victory over No. 10 Connecticut in a wild Big East opener for both teams.
Cincinnati (9-3) had lost all five previous games against UConn (9-3). The Bearcats led by 11 points before the Huskies made a late run, tying it on Kemba Walker's 3-pointer with 9.4 seconds to go.
Stephenson dribbled into the lane and was fouled by Gavin Edwards as the buzzer sounded.
After a review, the officials put seventh-tenths of a second on the clock, Stephenson went to the line and made both, finishing with 21 points.
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Jerome Dyson scored 24 points and Stanley Robinson added 22 as UConn lost its scoring balance during its first true road game of the season.
It was a measuring-up game for Cincinnati, which expects to hold its own in the Big East and get back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005, when Bob Huggins was still the head coach. Stephenson, who went 7 of 7 from the line, made the two shots that put them over the top.
The Bearcats knew it would come down to their front line. In Cincinnati's wins over then-ranked Vanderbilt and Maryland, the front line dominated the boards. In other games, it got shoved around. This time, it held its own.
Deonta Vaughn, who went through a 3-of-23 shooting slump from behind the arc, made consecutive 3s that started a 12-2 run and put the Bearcats ahead 30-18. Vaughn yelled and pumped his fist after the second 3, showing his confidence was back.
Robinson had a basket and a three-point play during a 9-0 run that got it down to 30-27 and turned it into a back-and-forth game. Neither team got into an offensive flow in the half, which ended with Cincinnati ahead 36-35.
Vaughn had 10 points, matching his high for any opening half this season, and finished with a season-high 17.
Vaughn hit another 3 during a nine-point run that rebuilt the lead to 47-37 early in the second half. The Huskies managed only one basket during the opening 5:26 of the half, going 1 of 9 with three turnovers during that span.
The Bearcats led 61-50 with 8:10 left when UConn made its last surge behind Dyson, who scored 10 points during a spurt that cut it to 67-63 with 2:27 to go.
NO. 11 MICHIGAN STATE 87, TEXAS-ARLINGTON 68 — In East Lansing, Mich., Durrell Summers and Draymond Green combined for 39 points to lead No. 11 Michigan State.
Summers had 20 points, 13 in the first half, for the Spartans (10-3), while Green added 19 in a balanced attack in their final nonconference game.
But Michigan State coach Tom Izzo had to be happiest with the play of reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Kalin Lucas, who responded to a benching with 16 points.
KENT STATE 73, WOFFORD 66 — In Santa Clara, Calif., Justin Greene scored a career-high 26 points and added 10 rebounds to guide Kent State in the semifinals of the Cable Car Classic.
Rodriquez Sherman and Tyree Evans each added 10 points as Kent State (8-4) extended its winning streak to a season-best three straight.
Meanwhile, the Terriers (7-7) snapped a three-game winning streak on their first-ever trip to the state of California. Jamar Diggs tallied 18 points and Noah Dahlman provided an additional 17 for Wofford.
A close contest turned into a runaway game for Kent State, which overcame an eight-point deficit in the first half to outscore its opponent 40-35 in the second half. The Golden Flashes shot an overall 45.1 percent from the field against Wofford's 41.1 percent.
WESTERN CAROLINA 87, UNC ASHEVILLE 76 — In Cullowhee, N.C., Jake Robinson hit six 3-pointers and finished with 25 points to lead Western Carolina.
Robinson was 6-for-9 from 3-point range for the Catamounts (11-2), who hit eight of 20 attempts from long range in the game.
Brandon Giles scored 15 points and Richie Gordon added 14 for Western Carolina.
Jason Lane scored 12 points, and J.P. Primm, Sean Smith and Quinard Jackson added 10 apiece for the Bulldogs (3-8).
RADFORD 80, GEORGE MASON 53 — In Radford, Va., Art Parakhouski scored 34 points, including 20 in the second half, and added 12 rebounds and five blocks.
Parakhouski, who entered the game as the nation's top rebounder (13.3), was 11-for-15 from the field and 12-for-15 from the free-throw line for his ninth double-double of the season. It was the third time in his career that he has scored 30 or more points in a game.
Radford (6-5), which had lost two straight, led 34-29 at halftime, but outscored George Mason 46-24 in the second half. The Highlanders shot 52.7 percent from the field (29-for-55) despite going 0-for-9 from the 3-point line.
BUFFALO 81, LIBERTY 64 — In Orlando, Fla., Rodney Pierce scored a career-high 31 points, leading Buffalo to a win over Liberty in the consolation game of the UCF Holiday Classic.
Calvin Betts and John Boyer added 15 points apiece for the Bulls (7-4), who have won four of their last five games.
The trio of leading scorers were hot from beyond the arc with Pierce hitting five 3-pointers, Boyer had four and Betts added two.
Liberty trailed by just three points midway through the opening half at 25-22, but Buffalo put together a 13-3 run from that juncture to put the game out of reach.
The Bulls led by 13 at halftime and outscored the Flames 38-34 in the second half.