Updated at: 02/06/2013 8:08 PM
By HOWARD ULMAN
(AP) PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Kadeem Batts scored 25 points and Providence narrowly won its second straight game after holding a late lead, beating No. 17 Cincinnati 54-50 Wednesday night.
The Bearcats had cut their biggest deficit, 47-34 with 6:49 left, to 49-48 on two free throws by Cheikh Mbodj with 2:28 remaining. It was 52-50 when Batts missed two free throws with 13.4 seconds to go and Justin Jackson rebounded for Cincinnati. But Sean Kilpatrick, who led Cincinnati with 13 points, lost the ball on a backcourt violation with 2 seconds to play and Batts finished the scoring with two free throws.
On Saturday, Providence (12-11, 4-7 Big East) beat Villanova 55-52 on a 3-pointer by Bryce Cotton with 2.2 seconds to go after blowing a nine-point lead with 4:34 left.
The Bearcats (18-5, 6-4) lost for the second time in seven games and for just the fourth time in 16 games in which they allowed 60 or fewer points. And they lost just their second game in the 10 they’ve played away from home.
Providence improved to 4-9 after an 8-2 start.
The Friars led 26-21 at intermission despite a scoreless first half by Cotton, who entered the game averaging 21.4 points, first in the Big East and sixth in the nation. He went 0-for-4 from the field, all 3-point attempts.
Cotton, who finished with 11 points, hit two 3-pointers and three free throws in just over three minutes early in the second half, helping the Friars take their 13-point lead.
Then the Bearcats rallied by scoring the next 12 points on a 3-pointer by JaQuon Parker, two free throws and a layup by Kilpatrick, a free throw by Parker and two layups by Shaquille Thomas.
That made it 47-46 with 3:25 remaining.
Vincent Council gave Providence a three-point lead with a 15-footer from the right baseline before Mbodj made his free throws.
Cincinnati’s only leads were 3-0 and 6-6. With the score tied 8-8, Providence scored the next 10 points starting with a followup by Josh Fortune. Lee Goldsbrough hit a layup, Council sank a basket and, Goldsbrough and Batts made layups for an 18-8 lead with 8:29 left in the half.
Kilpatrick stopped the run with a 16-footer from the left for his first basket. Then, after Providence had taken a 22-15 lead, Kilpatrick made consecutive baskets, closing the gap to three points with 1:48 to go.
But Batts hit two short jumpers from the lane before Mbodj finished the first-half scoring with two free throws.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)