CINCINNATI (AP) — No listless start for Jarron Cumberland this time. Encouraged by his coach to assert himself from the outset, Cincinnati’s junior guard shot early and had a career night.
Cumberland scored half of Cincinnati’s points during an opening 22-4 run, and he matched his career high with 27 points on Monday night while leading the Bearcats to a 78-52 victory over Western Michigan.
Cincinnati (3-1) concluded a four-game stretch that opened its rebuilt on-campus arena, winning the last three after a loss to Ohio State.
Following a 76-64 win over Milwaukee , coach Mick Cronin pushed Cumberland — the Bearcats’ top returning scorer — to be more aggressive at the start of games. The junior guard saw video of the coach’s postgame media session and took it to heart.
“I watched the press conference after the last game,” Cumberland said. “I do need to get started at the beginning of games and not wait until the second half. I need to play a whole game.”
Cronin reminded him before the game about his slow starts, joking that he would have the trainer give him smelling salts if necessary to get him going.
“I think it worked,” Cronin said. “He came out ready to play.”
Cumberland made 5 of his first 6 shots as the Bearcats quickly took control and had 19 points in the first half. Cumberland finished 11 of 19 from the field and had a team-high six assists. Nysier Brooks added 15 points and 10 rebounds, his second straight double-double.
Michael Flowers scored 23 points — 18 in the first half — and had a team-high seven rebounds for Western Michigan (3-2). The Broncos had more turnovers (8) than shots attempted (7) during Cincinnati’s opening spurt, managing only one field goal.
“Early on they jumped up on us big, and I thought that we were timid,” coach Steve Hawkins said. “I felt like we had our spots but we didn’t attack.”
Western Michigan never got closer than 11 points the rest of the way, with Cincinnati leading by as many as 26.
Western Michigan: The Broncos made 16 3-pointers against NAIA Aquinas College on Saturday, one shy of the school record. They were 6 of 20 against the Bearcats.
Cincinnati: Point guard Justin Jenifer missed a win over Milwaukee on Friday night with a stomach virus. He started on Monday, played 18 minutes, missed all four of his shots and had five assists.
Cronin said Cumberland’s next big challenge is to become more assertive with teammates and help the newcomers do things right on the floor. Cumberland is one of the quietest players but he’s counted on to provide leadership this season.
“That’s his biggest adjustment,” Cronin said. “He’s got to do it, though. If we’re going to be any good, we need his voice and not just his points.”
The teams hadn’t played since Dec. 17, 1966. The Bearcats have won their last eight meetings and lead the series 16-1.
AT THE LINE
Western Michigan did a good job drawing fouls, but the Broncos were only 16 of 31 on free throws, with center Seth Dugan going 6 of 14. The Bearcats were 13 of 17 on free throws.
“Our free throws just killed us down the stretch,” Hawkins said.
DOUBLES ALL AROUND
Brooks (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Trevon Scott (15 and 10) had their first career double-doubles during the win over Milwaukee. Brooks followed it with the second of his career, helping Cincinnati dominate the boards 42-27.
Both teams head to Niceville, Florida, for the next round of the Emerald Coast Classic. The Broncos play Southern on Friday, while the Bearcats play George Mason.