No. 12 Cincinnati rolls over Coppin State
CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Bearcats seemed well on their way to scoring 100 or more points in three straight games for the first time in program history. Falling short of that accomplishment was the only negative aspect of their performance on Thursday night.
Jarron Cumberland scored 17 of his game-high 19 points in the first half and Justin Jenifer added 16, lifting the 12th-ranked Bearcats to a 97-54 victory over Coppin State at BB&T Arena.
Gary Clark had 12 points and nine rebounds, narrowly missing his 20th career double-double, as five players scored in double figures to help the Bearcats extend their home-court winning streak to 29 games.
The Bearcats began their season by beating Savannah State 107-77 and Western Carolina 102-51. The 305 points are the most in three straight games since 2011.
Cincinnati (3-0) next plays in the Cayman Islands Classic. The field includes Buffalo, Iowa and Richmond.
“It’s time to play some teams who could beat us if we don’t play well,” Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said.
The Bearcats got a scare in the second half when starting guard Jacob Evans III left the game with an apparent hip injury with 10:58 remaining. Evans had 11 points and four assists before the injury, which was not deemed serious.
Coppin State, which was picked to finish 12th in the 13-team Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, allowed an average of 73 points in losses at Oregon and East Carolina and struggled to contain Cincinnati from the outset.
Senior forward Kyle Washington hit his first three shots to put Cincinnati ahead 13-2 less than three minutes into the game. He finished the game with 11 points.
Cincinnati hit its first 13 shots to build a 35-13 lead.
“We wanted to reinforce that we’re not taking these games lightly,” Washington said. “Whether it’s the Los Angeles Lakers or Coppin State, we’re ready to go.”
After the hot start, the Bearcats went 6 of 25 for the rest of the first half, but the score was out of reach by then as Cincinnati led 55-26 at halftime.
“We just didn’t defend hard enough early and execute our defensive assignments,” Coppin State coach Juan Dixon said. “But we are going to be fine. Cincinnati is a top 25 team, very talented, very deep. They shot the ball extremely well tonight.”
Coppin State (0-3) was led by Karonn Davis, who scored 10 points, and Dejuan Clayton and Tre’ Thomas each had nine points.
The Bearcats were efficient, particularly early in the first half, going 9 of 18 from 3-point range with 14 assists on 19 made field goals.
Coppin State made some adjustments after halftime and Cincinnati backed off the full-court press. The Bearcats went 19 of 50 (38 percent) after starting the game 13 of 13.
“Our passing was excellent early in the game,” Cronin said. “That forced them to collapse and it gave us open shots. But we regressed at the foul line.”
The Bearcats might have easily eclipsed the century mark had they not shot 58.3 percent from the free-throw line. Cincinnati was within three points of 100 in the final seconds when Cronin instructed his players to let the clock run out.
“I’m the son of a coach,” Cronin said. “When you’re up 43, you don’t rub it in. I couldn’t care less if we get 100.”
NOTES: Bearcats F Gary Clark turned 23 on Thursday. ... Cincinnati leads the all-time series 4-0. The teams hadn’t played since 2003. ... Coppin State dropped to 0-11 all time against teams from the American Athletic Conference. ... Cincinnati is playing its home games at BB&T Arena during completion of an $87 million renovation at Fifth Third Arena.