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Cincinnati holds off Pirates

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

Post-game Audio: Lebo, Williams, Barkley...

GREENVILLE   East Carolina trimmed a 16-point Cincinnati lead to 56-54 with five minutes remaining before absorbing a 65-56 American Athletic Conference loss from the Bearcats before 4,841 in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.

It was a matchup of ebbs and flows for the Pirates, who fell behind 13-6 before rallying for a 17-15 lead on a layup by freshman Kentrell Barkley with 9:52 left in the first half.

The Bearcats (21-8, 11-5 AAC) spurted again to go ahead 37-25 at the half.

"Our kids battled," said ECU coach Jeff Lebo. "We had them where we wanted them with four minutes left. ... Give them credit. That program has a history of being good and they're good again this year."

A 3-pointer by Jacob Evans put Cincinnati on top 61-54 with 3:15 remaining.

Troy Caupain led the Bearcats with 27 points on nine of 14 field goal shooting. He was 4-for-7 on threes.

"He's underrated," Lebo said of Caupain. "He's like Nic Moore (Southern Methodist). He gives his team what they need and today it was scoring."

Evans had 18 points for Cincinnati. Octavius Ellis provided 10 points and 14 rebounds as the Bearcats led 38-31 on the boards.

Five players performed all but 16 minutes for the Pirates as Lebo went with a smaller lineup that has been ECU's most productive offensively.

Senior point guard Prince Williams had 18 points for ECU (11-18, 3-13). Barkley provided 14 points, 13 rebounds and six assists without a turnover in 40 minutes.

"He was terrific," Lebo said of Barkley. "He scored for us. He rebounded for us and he made plays for us. ... He's exceeded expectations to the point we can't take him out of the game."

B.J. Tyson and Caleb White had 11 points each.

Barkley and White each hit a pair of 3-pointers in a 17-4 run that cut Cincinnati's lead to 56-54 on a drive by Williams with 5:33 to go.

The Pirates essentially had one practice day to prepare with a travel day following a 79-73 win at Tulane on Wednesday night. The Bearcats had not played since a 65-60 win at home over Connecticut on Feb. 20.

ECU plays at South Florida (7-22, 4-12) at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

PAGE UPDATED 02/27/16 05:35 PM.

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