by David Cassilo / @dcassilo
Presbyterian has never had a bigger win in its five years since first moving up to Division I. The Blue Hose, which was coming off a loss to Western Carolina, went into Cincinnati, trailed by as much as 15 points and used a game-winning 3-pointer from Khalid Mutakabbir with 7.6 seconds left to knock off the No. 20 Bearcats, 56-54.
Presbyterian was trailing by 15 with as little as nine minutes to play in the second half. Then Mutakabbir went off, scoring 13 of his career-high 25 points to close out the game. Only three members of the Blue Hose scored more than five points, but that was enough to pull off perhaps the biggest upset of the young season.
A zone defense installed by head coach Greg Nibert helped Presbyterian limit the Bearcats scoring, holding them to 22-for-62 from the field. Running that defense came from an unlikely source.
“Last week the way Duke whipped us so bad, my wife said, ‘You don’t have a zone?’” Nibert said. “So I put in a zone. That zone helped us slow down the game a little bit.”
As for Cincinnati, the team has to regroup after a baffling loss on its home floor. The Bearcats were ranked in the preseason top-25 for the first time since 2003 but will almost certainly find themselves out of the rankings on Monday. It might take until a Dec. 10 meeting with in-state rival No. 13 Xavier to see if the team’s hype was justified.