CINCINNATI (AP) Farad Cobb matched his season high with 20 points, Gary Clark added 19 and No. 23 Cincinnati recovered from its loss to crosstown rival Xavier by beating Norfolk State 75-59 on Tuesday night.
The Bearcats (9-2) had dropped two of three, including a home-court loss to Butler and a 65-55 defeat at No. 10 Xavier on Saturday. They were sloppy in the first half before pulling away.
D’Shon Taylor had 14 points for Norfolk State (4-6), which trailed by only four points late in the first half.
Norfolk State’s Jeff Short came into the game averaging 18.7 points in the last six games, but had a tough time finding shots against one of the country’s toughest defenses. He missed all four of his shots in the first half and his first one in the second half before hitting a 3-pointer. He finished with five points on 1-of-10 shooting.
The Bearcats are holding opponents to 59 points per game, the 10th-fewest in the nation.
The Spartans rely on the 3-pointer – they came in shooting 45.2 percent from beyond the arc – but missed 12 of their first 14 attempts and finished 7 of 24.
Cincinnati opened with a 15-0 run, scoring on each of its first five possessions. The only flaw was Octavius Ellis missing a showy dunk attempt on a fast-break alley-oop play. The Spartans had a shot clock violation on their opening possession and missed their first seven shots.
Cincinnati missed four consecutive free throws and seven of nine shots in one stretch of the first half, allowing Norfolk State to cut the lead to 23-15.
Turnovers were a problem in Cincinnati’s loss at Xavier on Saturday, and the Bearcats lost the ball four times during a four-minute span late it the first half on Tuesday. The crowd booed when Charles Oliver’s fast-break layup cut it to 30-26 with 1:30 left in the half. The Bearcats led 34-26 at the break.
Clark had three baskets during a 9-2 run that opened the second half and built the lead to 16 points. The lead was 61-35 midway through the half.
Norfolk State: The Spartans have made as many as 14 3-pointers – a school record – and as few as two in games this season.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats are 19-0 all-time against teams from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Norfolk State: The Spartans will play the fourth of eight straight road games at Evansville on Thursday.
One team that may be a bit underrated this season are Mick Cronin’s Cincinnati Bearcats. With their head coach sidelined for a significant portion of last season for health reasons the Bearcats still managed to reach the NCAA tournament, falling to Kentucky in the round of 32, and many of the key contributors are back.
Sunday afternoon the Bearcats moved to 2-0 on the season with a decisive 106-44 win over Robert Morris, using the combination of a balanced offensive attack and some stifling defense to get the job done. Guard Farad Cobb led eight double-digit scorers with 15 points, and point guards Troy Caupain and Justin Jenifer were responsible for nine points and one turnover apiece.
Thirty-two of their 38 field goals were of the assisted variety, and the Bearcats scored 52 points in the paint while also converting 29 Robert Morris turnovers into 36 points.
Two of those 36 points came on an impressive Shaq Thomas windmill during the second half, which can be seen above. While SMU and UConn have received an ample amount of attention when it comes to projecting the American Athletic Conference race, Cincinnati will be heard from as well. They’ll face tougher opposition than Sunday (or Friday’s win over Western Carolina, for that matter), but the Bearcats have more than enough talent and experience to make a statement nationally this season.
1. Kadeem Allen, Arizona: The NJCAA National Player of the Year tallied 1,425 career points in his two first-team All-American seasons at Hutchinson Community College (Kansas). While the 6-foot-3 power guard likely won’t be in the starting five, he will a key scoring option coming off the bench. This past season with the Blue Dragons, he averaged 25.9 points per game.
2. Cinmeon Bowers, Auburn: An NCAA show-cause penalty didn’t stop Bruce Pearl from landing one of the top JuCo recruits in the country this past spring. The former Florida State signee averaged 12.4 points and 8.9 rebounds last season at Chipola Junior College (Florida) The Tigers lose their top scorer and their top rebounder from last season’s 14-16 team. Bowers can help in those departments, especially on the glass, where Auburn had one of the worst rebounding teams in the SEC.
3. Josh Gray, LSU: No Andre Stringer and no Anthony Hickey this season for an LSU program looking to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009. At Odessa College last season, Gray averaged 33.8 points and 5.9 assists per game. The former Texas Tech floor general, who averaged 9.3 points a night in 2012-2013, is joined by UNC Asheville transfer Keith Hornsby. The brand-new back court should compliment the frontline of sophomores Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin.
4. Jordan Goodman, New Mexico: After three commitments and a stint in Harcum College (Pennsylvania), the 6-foot-9 Goodman is set to begin his first season with the reigning Mountain West tournament champion. Goodman, a first-team All-American, has yet to be cleared for full-contact drills after having knee surgery this summer, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
5. Stephen Hurt, Kansas State: The former Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year used a year at Northwest Florida State to catapult himself into a highly-sought after forward. After committing to K-State, he’ll join a team looking to push back up the Big 12 Conference standings. The 6-foot-11 center averaged 8.2 points and 4.8 rebounds in his lone season in the JuCo ranks after transferring from Lipscomb.
6. Trahson Burrell & Chris Hawkins, Memphis: Josh Pastner brought in several JuCo recruits who could be contributors this season. The 6-foot-7 Burrell was cleared last month after posting 25.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game at Lee College (Texas). Hawkins, a JuCo forward, averaged 12.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game for the Tigers in their four games in Canada this summer.
7. Ivan Cruz Uceda, Miami: At 6-foot-10 Uceda gives the ‘Canes an inside presence. The ex-Harcum forward made an immediate impact on the glass in Miami’s trip to Spain, pulling down 11.0 boards per game. Uceda’s debut with Miami will be delayed until the second semester due to an NCAA rule.
8. Octavius Ellis, Cincinnati: Mick Cronin needs to replace the production left behind by Justin Jackson on the Cincy frontline. The 6-foot-10 forward Ellis, back in Bearcat uniform, averaged 14.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.2 blocks as a first-team All-American at Trinity Valley Community College (Texas). He arrives in Cincinnati with another JuCo big, Coreontae DeBerry.
9. Dwayne Benjamin & Michael Chandler, Oregon: Three players dismissed and two more failing to enroll leaves plenty of opportunities for newcomers to make an impact on this Oregon team. The 6-foot-10 Chandler, a former four-star recruit, is the projected starting center while Benjamin can help out on the wing along with freshman Dillon Brooks.
10. Jeff Newberry, Oklahoma State: Phil Forte is back, but Marcus Smart and Markel Brown leave big holes to fill. Insert JuCo guard Jeff Newberry and LSU transfer Anthony Hickey. The 6-foot-2 Newberry could end up playing either guard position this season for Travis Ford’s new-look perimeter.
TEN MORE TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Sam Cassell Jr., UConn: Son of the longtime NBA point guard adds depth to the UConn back court. Cassell was a first-team All-American in his only season at Chipola.
Gary Payton II, Oregon State: The son of the Hall of Famer enrolls as his father’s alma mater, where after a coaching change he will be looked upon to contribute right away.
Kevin Punter, Tennessee: The State Fair Community College product committed to Tennessee and new head coach Donnie Tyndall. Punter averaged 20.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.
Torian Graham and Devonta Pollard, Houston: The two-time N.C. State commit is joining Kelvin Sampson at Houston. Graham was once ranked No. 67 overall by Rivals. Former McDonald’s All-American and Alabama forward Devonta Pollard is also an addition for the Cougars this season.
Carlos Morris, Minnesota: The 6-foot-5 combo guard averaged 14.7 points 5.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game for Chipola. The former Rivals 150 guard can crack the Golden Gophers’ starting five.
Tom “Bush” Wamukota, Wichita State: The Shockers have a pair of All-American-caliber guards, but the 6-foot-11 Wamukota could be a lift on the frontline alongside Darius Carter.
Keith Thomas, St. John’s: The nation’s leading rebounder this past season at Westchester Community College (New York) hauled in 15.7 boards per game in addition to his 15.3 points a contest.
Willie Atwood, Arizona State: A season after returning to the NCAA tournament, the Sun Devils will bring in seven newcomers, four of whom are from the JuCo ranks. The 6-foot-8 Atwood was a All-American honorable mention selection, averaging 20.8 points per game for Connors State College (Oklahoma).