HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. — At the outset, the Bearcats didn’t miss a thing, hitting their first 13 shots and all four free throws. When they needed one more basket at the end to set a school record, they came up empty — the only disappointment in another dominating performance.
Jarron Cumberland led Cincinnati’s opening blitz of perfect shooting, and the 12th-ranked Bearcats pulled away to a 97-54 victory over Coppin State on Thursday night. The game ended with a reserve guard dribbling out the clock and the crowd murmuring.
The Bearcats (3-0) piled up 107 and 102 points while beating Savannah State and Western Carolina. They were trying to reach triple digits in three straight games for the first time in school history.
“We were talking about it before the game,” point guard Justin Jenifer said.
They knew it. They wanted it. They couldn’t get it. Cincinnati failed to make a field goal in the last 4 minutes, missing five free throws during that span. Reserve guard John Koz dribbled out the clock — on coach Mick Cronin’s orders — instead of taking a 3-point shot at the end.
“When you’re up 43, you don’t try to rub it in,” Cronin said. “At least I don’t. I’ve been on the other end of that stick. That stuff doesn’t concern me. I could care less if we get 100.”
The Bearcats made quick work of the Eagles (0-3), who have yet to score more than 54 points in a game. Cincinnati made its first 13 shots — five from beyond the arc — while racing ahead 35-13. Cumberland had 12 of his 17 points in the Bearcats’ perfect opening spurt.
“We just wanted to reinforce the message that we’re ready to go and not taking any of these games for granted,” forward Kyle Washington said. “It could be Coppin State, it could be the Los Angeles Lakers.”
Karonn Davis scored 10 points for Coppin State, which is playing three road games in four days.
“They shot the ball extremely well tonight,” Coppin State coach Juan Dixon said. “And they are just dogs. They defend. They get up in your face and play physical.”
Cincinnati won its 29th straight home game, a streak that spans two home courts. The Bearcats are playing this season at BB&T Arena at Northern Kentucky University while their on-campus arena is renovated. They went 18-0 at Fifth Third Arena last season.
Coppin State: The Eagles return only two starters and struggle to score. They missed their first six shots while falling behind 18-2.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats have put up their huge point totals while using their full bench. Only one player has been on the court for more than 25 minutes in a game — Jacob Evans III played 29 minutes in the season opener.
The Bearcats had scored 100 points in back-to-back games only six times before this season. They last time was during the 2011-12 season.
Cincinnati is 21-0 all-time against current teams from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Coppin State is 0-11 all-time against teams from the American Athletic Conference.
Evans, one of three returning starters, played only 5 minutes in the second half because of a sore hip. He finished with 11 points in 17 minutes.
The Bearcats hit a lull after opening the game 13 for 13. They went 19 of 50 (38 percent) the rest of the game.
The Bearcats have drawn 6,610, 7,051 and 7,158 fans for their first three games at BB&T Arena, a half-hour drive from their campus. The school has shuttles for students to make the trip across the Ohio River.
Coppin State makes the 4-hour drive to northern Ohio to play Cleveland State on Saturday night. They also play at Rutgers on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
Cincinnati travels to the Cayman Islands Classic, playing Buffalo on Monday. If they win, the Bearcats will play the winner of the UAB-Richmond game.