No. 12 Cincinnati blitzes Western Carolina
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. — Kyle Washington didn’t start for the University of Cincinnati on Monday night against Western Carolina for just the second time in 37 career games, but his biggest contribution might have come after the final buzzer.
The 6-foot-9 Bearcats senior forward filled a used pizza box with leftover sandwiches after his postgame media session to deliver to his teammates.
Washington also did plenty during the game, finishing with 14 points to join three teammates in double figures as the 12th-ranked Bearcats rolled to a 102-51 win over the Catamounts.
“I wasn’t surprised,” said Washington, who scored five points in Cincinnati’s 107-77 season-opening win over Savannah State on Friday, about not starting. “I just came ready to play. I just wanted to be there for the team.”
Sophomore guard Jarron Cumberland needed just 23 minutes to score a game-high 20 points, junior guard Cane Broome came off the bench to add 15 and freshman guard Keith Williams finished with 10 for Cincinnati (2-0), which never trailed or was tied.
The Bearcats led the unranked Catamounts by as many as 53 points in the final minute, delighting a crowd of 7,051 at Northern Kentucky University’s BB&T Arena.
“They are a very talented basketball team,” Western Carolina coach Larry Hunter said. “I think their size and physicality was a factor. They pressed us the entire game. They took us out of a lot of our execution.
“We are still getting better at that, but you know, I thought they shot pretty well. Jarron Cumberland is a good player. They got a lot of good players, and they brought in good players. They just kept grinding us. I was extremely proud of our effort and energy. We are going to get better, and honestly, we were just a little overmatched this evening.”
Cincinnati reached triple figures in points for the second time in two games and scored at least 100 in consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 17 and 21, 2011.
“It was good for the walk-ins to get in there and get some shots off,” Broome said.
The Bearcats outrebounded Western Carolina (0-2) 47-28, led by sophomore center Nysier Brooks with a career-high eight.
“Their physicality was something we hadn’t seen yet, which was good for us,” Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. “What I’m saying is the score was lopsided, but I thought we got a lot out of tonight. We did a good job staying focused and not looking at the scoreboard and maintaining our defensive intensity.”
Freshman guard Matt Halvorsen, who scored three points in 13 minutes in his college debut during Western Carolina’s 85-57 loss at Clemson last Friday, came off the bench to lead the Catamounts with 15 points. Fifth-year senior guard Deriece Parks also reached double figures with 10 points for Western Carolina.
“We lost Halverson,” Cronin said. “Coach Hunter is a veteran guy. When he saw we our press, he said, ‘We’re going to put Halverson in the corner and let him shoot all night.’
“It wasn’t that long ago that these guys beat Louisville,’ Cronin added. “You never about these games. There are so many transfers that you never know what you’re going to get.”
Cincinnati is playing home games at Northern Kentucky this season while Fifth Third Arena undergoes an $87 million renovation.
Cumberland scored the first five points of the game. Washington scored 12 points in the first half off the bench, and Cincinnati led by as many as 23 points before settling for a 46-29 halftime lead.
NOTES: Nysier Brooks and Cincinnati junior G Justin Jenifer made their first career starts, Jenifer in place of Cane Broome, who committed six turnovers during Cincinnati’s 107-77 win over Savannah State in Friday’s season opener. ... Western Carolina fifth-year senior G Haboubacar Mutombo is a nephew of former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo. ... The Bearcats are scheduled to remain at home for their next game on Thursday against Coppin State. The Catamounts are due to play their home opener on Thursday against Hiwassee College, a National Christian College Athletic Association Division I team in Madisonville, Tenn.