Mens Basketball: Cincinnati 107, Savannah State 77 - D1SportsNet


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Mens basketball

Cincinnati 107, Savannah State 77

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. -- Cincinnati Bearcats coach Mick Cronin wasn't pleased with most aspects of his team's performance on Friday afternoon. But with another game to play in three days and a long season ahead, he wasn't going to fret over a lackluster season opener.

"I can't go to the Maalox after one game," Cronin said.

Jacob Evans scored 19 points and Cane Broome had 17 points and four assists, lifting No. 12 Cincinnati to a 107-77 victory over Savannah State at BB&T Arena.

The Bearcats, considered a Final Four contender by some pundits, committed 20 turnovers on Friday and allowed the undermanned Tigers to creep to within seven points in the second half.

"Twenty turnovers will drive a coach crazy," Cronin said. "Defensively, we were average. But I have to get ready for Western Carolina (Monday night). Guys played well in certain points in the game."

Gary Cark became the 51st player in program history to reach 1,000 career points with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Justin Jenifer had 15 points and five assists for the Bearcats, who extended their home-court winning streak to 27. They went 18-0 last season at Fifth Third Arena.

The Bearcats are playing their home games on the campus of Northern Kentucky University this season while Fifth Third Arena undergoes an $87 million renovation.

Savannah State, which is moving to Division II by 2019, was led by Austin Dasent who scored 14 points. The Tigers were outrebounded 65-32 on Friday.

"At the end of the day, size, strength, they just killed us on the glass down that stretch," said Tigers head coach Horace Broadnax. "They have a couple beasts on the glass."

Savannah State led the nation in 3-point attempts and makes last season. The Tigers began Friday's game by hitting 3 of 4 and finished the game 13 of 44 from beyond the arc.

"I know they shot just 29 percent from the '3', but they got too many off," Cronin said. "Our hands weren't active enough today. But they're smaller and faster than us, makes it tough. We have a lot of things to work on still. A lot of things."

Cincinnati also made 13 3-pointers on Friday, on 39 attempts.

It took a while for the Bearcats to get going before a sparse crowd for the noon tipoff. But Savannah State went scoreless for nearly three minutes, and Cincinnati went on a 10-0 run, capped by Clark's layup for a 35-21 lead.

Jenifer's lob to Tre Scott for a dunk gave Cincinnati a 17-point lead late in the half. The Bearcats led 60-40 at halftime with the teams combining for 18 made 3-pointers.

Cincinnati came out sluggish after halftime and the Tigers cut the deficit to single digits on a layup and two free throws by Ty'lik Evans with 12 minutes left. Evans had 11 points.

Cincinnati had 10 second-half turnovers, including four by Broome who had six on the night. "Cane played well in the first half," said Cronin. "After that, it was a turnover exhibition."

The Bearcats were scoreless for more than four minutes and 10 second-half turnovers allowed Savannah State to get within 69-62. But the Bearcats pulled away with a 17-1 run over three minutes.

Savannah State committed 17 turnovers but also had 11 steals, mostly on errant Bearcats' passes.

"We always look at the things we can do better moving forward with each game," Evans said. "This game it definitely was the turnovers. We turned the ball over way too many times. I had five. I know I can't do that."

NOTES: It was the most points scored by the Bearcats since a 119-68 win over Fairleigh Dickinson on December 17, 2016. ... Friday's game is part of the Cayman Islands Classic. Both teams travel to the Island later this month but compete in separate brackets. ... The Bearcats lead the all-time series 2-0. Cincinnati defeated the Tigers 54-41 on Nov. 24, 2010 at Fifth Third Arena.