A fast start and a strong finish gave Cincinnati an important win for its NCAA Tournament résumé.
Sean Kilpatrick scored 17 points to lead the Bearcats past Providence, 61-44, in New York on Wednesday in a Big East tournament game between teams desperate to improve their postseason credentials.
‘‘Great effort by our guys on the defensive end of the floor,’’ Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. ‘‘We outrebound people despite our lack of size, and so credit to the kids in the uniforms. They've got great toughness, and they’re really committed to winning.’’
JaQuon Parker added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Bearcats (22-10), who might have solidified an NCAA Tournament berth with the victory. No. 9 seed Cincinnati advanced to a quarterfinal matchup Thursday with fifth-ranked Georgetown, the tournament’s top seed.
The Hoyas won at Cincinnati, 62-55, on Feb. 15.
‘‘We know they’re a great team, but like we talked about earlier, we’re a great team as well,’’ Kilpatrick said. ‘‘Especially the way we’re playing defense the way we are. We’re a team that’s hungry. We’re a team that’s not going to back down from anyone, and we’re going to come out and give our best fight every night.’’
Kadeem Batts led the eighth-seeded Friars (17-14) with 14 points and eight rebounds, but Bryce Cotton — the conference’s leading scorer at 19.6 points per game — was held to 12 on 5-for-15 shooting. He missed all seven 3-point attempts, and Providence went 1 for 16 from beyond the arc.
Big East second round — Seton Hall got hit with the injury bug early and often this season. It kept affecting them right to the last game — a 75-63 loss to No. 19 Syracuse. The 12th-seeded Pirates started well against the fifth-seeded Orange, leading by 10 points three times in the first half before settling for a 34-all halftime tie. Syracuse (24-8) extended its Big East tenure with the win and the Orange will play fourth-seeded and 17th-ranked Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals on Thursday . . . Mouphtaou Yarou made his first seven shots and scored 18 points, sending Villanova (20-12) to a 66-53 victory over St. John’s (16-15). Ryan Arcidiacono added 15 points to help the seventh-seeded Wildcats move into the quarterfinals, against fourth-ranked Louisville. JayVaughn Pinkston had 12 points and nine rebounds for Villanova . . . Pat Connaughton scored a season-high 21 points and led Notre Dame’s impressive show from 3-point range as the 24th-ranked Fighting Irish (24-8) beat Rutgers (15-16), 69-61, to face third-seeded and 12th-ranked Marquette in the quarterfinals.
Big 12 first round — Dejan Kravic rebounded a desperation shot and dropped it into the bucket just ahead of the buzzer, lifting Texas Tech over West Virginia, 71-69, in Kansas City, Mo. The Red Raiders (11-19) will meet the regular-season champion, No. 7 Kansas (26-5), in Thursday’s quarterfinals . . . Myck Kabongo had 16 points and six assists for Texas (16-16) which used a late run to beat TCU (11-21), 70-57, to advance to the quarterfinals against No. 11 against Kansas State.
Patriot League title game — Mike Muscala scored 6 of his 20 points during a decisive second-half stretch to help Bucknell (28-5) capture its second NCAA Tournament berth in three seasons with a 64-56 win over Lafayette (19-15) in Lewisburg, Pa.
SEC first round — Fred Thomas scored a career-high 21 points as No. 13 seed Mississippi State defeated No. 12 seed South Carolina, 70-59, in Nashville. Mississippi State (10-21) advanced to a second-round game Thursday against No. 5 seed Tennessee (19-11) . . . Elston Turner scored 22 points even with his broken left pinkie wrapped up in a splint, and the Texas A&M Aggies (18-14) beat 11th-seeded Auburn (9-23), 71-62.
Pac-12 first round — Jahii Carson scored 5 of his 34 points in overtime, Carrick Felix had 19 points and 12 rebounds, and Arizona State (21-11) held off Stanford, 89-88 (18-14), in Las Vegas to send the Sun Devils to the quarterfinals against No. 21 UCLA . . . Spencer Dinwiddie scored 20 points and Colorado (21-10) picked up a much-needed win, holding off Oregon State (14-18), 74-68 . . . Jarred DuBois scored 15 of his 22 points in the second half, Jordan Loveridge added 15 points and Utah (14-17) defeated shorthanded Southern California (14-18), 69-66, to earn a quarterfinal spot against second-seeded California.
Mountain West quarterfinals — Anthony Bennett scored 23 points and UNLV (24-8) defeated Air Force (17-13), 72-56, in Las Vegas, and will face Colorado State, which beat Fresno State, 67-61 . . . Wes Eikmeier scored 18 points and second-seeded Colorado State (25-7) held off Fresno State (11-19). The Rams (25-7) got contributions from Greg Smith with 11 points and Gerson Santo, who scored 10 in 11 minutes of play. Tyler Johnson led Fresno State (11-19) with 14 points . . . Tony Snell scored 15 points and No. 15 New Mexico led from start to finish, beating Wyoming, 59-46. Cameron Bairstow added 14 and eight rebounds for top-seeded New Mexico (27-5). Derrious Gilmore hit four 3-pointers and had 14 points, and Larry Nance Jr. also scored 14 for No. 8 seed Wyoming (19-13).