MEMPHIS — UCF coach Donnie Jones waited until the second half to employ a junk defense on Cincinnati's Sean Kilpatrick.
And if not for a late 3-pointer by freshman Kevin Johnson, the strategy might have worked.
UCF was within 55-53 and shadowing Kilpatrick when Johnson converted the long jumper with 36 seconds left to help No. 13 Cincinnati defeat a determined UCF team 61-58 in the quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference tournament Thursday night.
"We worked on that in the ballroom (Thursday)," Jones said. "We didn't have shootaround, so we taped off a room (at the team hotel). I thought it was very effective."
Isaiah Sykes led UCF with 21 points, Kasey Wilson scored 11 and Calvin Newell scored 10. Sykes left late with an injured knee and was being evaluated.
Kilpatrick was 6 of 12 from the field en route to 21 points as Cincinnati defeated the Knights for the third time this season. Justin Jackson finished with 14 points and eight rebounds.
Johnson's 3-pointer gave Cincinnati (27-5) a 58-53 lead. Kilpatrick converted three of four free throws the rest of the way.
"We had a chance down the stretch, but obviously they made the plays," Jones said.
UCF was taken to double overtime in Wednesday night's opening round defeating Temple 94-90, but gave the Bearcats a tough game.
"I think we were well-rested overnight," Wilson said. "We played a lot of minutes (against Temple), but I don't think it really carried over. We played as hard as we could the whole game."
Cincinnati held a 45-35 lead with just under 11 minutes left and appeared on the brink of taking over the game.
Instead, Central Florida scored the next eight. Later, Sykes converted a three-point play after a scramble for a loose ball to tie it at 53 with 2:55 left.
No. 5 Louisville 92, Rutgers 31: Chris Jones scored 15 of his 18 in the first half, and the Cardinals (27-5) won their third straight. In the first half the Scarlet Knight had 17 turnovers and seven field goals. They finished with their worst scoring game since 1982. "I'm not really sure what to say," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "Everything went really well for us, and nothing went right for them.''
no. 21 uconn 72, No. 19 Memphis 53: Niels Giffey scored a career-high 24 and the Huskies (25-7) finished off a season sweep of the Tigers (23-9). Connecticut has won four of its past five. DeAndre Daniels had 13 points for UConn. Shabazz Napier, the conference player of the year, and Terrence Samuel each scored 11. Memphis played as the visitor on its own court.
Houston 68, No, 25 SMU 64: Jherrod Stiggers scored 19, making five 3-pointers, and the Cougars upset the Mustangs (23-9). Houston made 9 of 19 3-pointers. Nic Moore, SMU's leading scorer at 13.9, had eight points, but was 0-for-9 from the field. "My mind-set was (you) never know if this would be the last game," Stiggers said. "Never know (if) there would be a tomorrow, so leave everything on the floor." The Mustangs were within 64-61 when Markus Kennedy went inside, but was blocked by TaShawn Thomas, his fourth of the game, with 17 seconds left.