No. 24 Cincinnati 102, MVSU 60
The guys off the bench led 24th-ranked Cincinnati to a triple-digit finish that was the most pleasing part of all.
Sean Kilpatrick scored 13 of his 20 points in the second half and Cheikh Mbodj had four of Cincinnati's seven blocks, leading the Bearcats to a 102-60 victory over Mississippi Valley State on Tuesday night.
The Bearcats (2-0) took control with a 23-4 run in the first half that featured a pair of 3-pointers by Cashmere Wright. The point guard had all of his 11 points and three assists in the take-control half.
Then, it was a matter of whether Cincinnati's bench could keep it going. The reserves did their part.
''I'm really happy with the fact that we got 45 points off our bench tonight,'' coach Mick Cronin said. ''They know we have a style and a system we've been building since last spring to try to have a great team this year.
''A big part of that is our guys know that depth was an issue (last season). Our veteran guys understand you've got to have quality play off the bench if you're going to be an elite team.''
JaQuon Parker added 13 points for the Bearcats, who shot 53.7 percent and dominated the boards by a 2-to-1 margin. The 102 points were Cincinnati's most since a 105-69 win over North Carolina A&T on Dec. 30, 2005, under interim coach Andy Kennedy.
The Bearcats opened the season with an 80-57 win over Tennessee-Martin. They were a little sloppy and the bench wasn't as good in that one.
''Now that we know what our second unit, what our bench can do against other teams, I feel a little better than I did the other game,'' Kilpatrick said.
Davon Usher and Darryl Marshall scored 13 points apiece for MVSU (0-2), which has an all-new team and a pair of lopsided losses to open the season.
The Delta Devils returned one player - reserve Blake Ralling - from a team that won the Southwestern Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles last season. Coach Sean Woods left for Morehead State, replaced by top assistant Chico Potts.
The Delta Devils lost their opener 93-57 at Mississippi, the start of an 11-game opening stretch on the road. Mississippi Valley State won't play at home until Jan. 6.
Before the tip-off, several members of the MVSU staff introduced themselves to Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson, who was seated courtside. One took out his cellphone and had a photo taken.
That was the highlight of the night for the Delta Devils.
Mississippi Valley State kept it close for a few minutes, taking advantage of Cincinnati's opening cold spell. Usher's 3-pointer cut the Bearcats' lead to 14-10.
Cincinnati went on a 23-4 run behind Wright, who made a pair of long 3s and a pull-up jumper. Wright also had the most impressive play of the opening half, a behind-the-back pass to Justin Jackson for a fast-break dunk. Wright had 16 points in the opening win on Sunday.
One of the few negatives: 15 turnovers, still more than they wanted.
''We've got a lot of work to do and a lot of improving,'' Wright said. ''If you want to play this style and win games and actually make it to where we want to make it, we've got to take care of the ball. You've got to realize what you can and can't do in the offense.''
The Bearcats led 43-23 at the half, which they dominated on the glass 32-16. The Delta Devils shot only 29.4 percent from the field.
At halftime, Cincinnati football coach Butch Jones did a little lobbying, telling fans that it's ''time to step up'' and attend a game on Saturday at Nippert Stadium against No. 22 Rutgers. The Bearcats have struggled to draw crowds to their 35,000-seat football stadium even though they're in the race for a fourth league title in five years.
Jones told the fans that when the game is over Saturday there will be only one ranked team, and it ''will be the team wearing the C-paw in red and black.''
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