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CINCINNATI (AP) — A non-descript drubbing of an overmatched team did little to sooth No. 17 Cincinnati.
Gary Clark had a career-high 14 rebounds as part of his first double-double of the season, and the Bearcats recovered from their first loss by beating Morgan State 87-66 on Sunday.
Cincinnati (8-1) was coming off a 78-76 loss to Butler on the Bearcats' home court Wednesday night, when Roosevelt Jones made a bank shot with a tenth of a second left. There was no drama in this one as the Bearcats' front line dominated.
From coach Mick Cronin's perspective, it wasn't enough. He's been upset with his players' focus on shooting and their inattention to defense. Also, the way they get ahead and then coast when a game is in hand.
"We played about eight or nine minutes, maybe 10," Cronin said. "The rest of the time, our guys weren't interested. So that was that.
"I'm extremely frustrated right now with our identity as a team. Our identity right now is to play offense. I don't know if I have one guy on my team that if you asked their role on the team, his immediate answer would be: I give us toughness and defense."
The Bearcats opened with an 18-4 run that featured points from all five starters. Cronin then substituted for all five at a timeout. The Bears (2-6) missed 10 of their first 11 shots and had three turnovers as Cincinnati took control and brought in the backups.
Clark led Cincinnati with his fourth career double-double, scoring 13 points. Shaq Thomas had 15 points as the Bearcats finished with six players finish in double figures. The Bearcats dominated the boards 49-37.
Kyle Thomas had 17 points for Morgan State, going 5 of 8 from beyond the arc.
Morgan State also was coming off a tough loss Wednesday, when Wagner made a pair of free throws with 3.2 seconds left for a 62-61 win. The Bears didn't have a chance against one of the nation's top defenses — Cincinnati ranks seventh at 57.5 points allowed per game.
The Bears didn't reach double digits until they got a goal-tending call with 8:02 left in the first half, making it 33-11. The Bearcats led 51-27 at halftime, matching their highest-scoring half of the season. They also scored 51 during a 106-44 win over Robert Morris.
Cincinnati forced seven turnovers and had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half.
"I thought the turnovers kind of caused us issues in the first half, and also the second-chance rebounds," Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman said.
Morgan State got the lead down to 56-40 in the second half, when the Bearcats' defense eased up and Cronin fumed.
"Coach has been telling us how we've been kind of going with it," Clark said. "We've got to play more assertive, more aggressive, more as a team defense. Those things come from being mentally tough. We've got to fix those areas."
Freshman guard Jacob Evans limped off with 11:42 to go in the first half, putting little weight on his left foot. He was taken to the locker room for evaluation. Evans sat on the bench in the second half with his shoe off and an ice pack on the ankle. Evans has been one of Cincinnati's top players off the bench, scoring in double figures four times.
Morgan State: Senior forward Cedric Blossom scored 16 points and had nine rebounds in his second game back from an academic suspension. Blossom was the Bears' leading scorer last season at 14.2 points per game. He sat out the first five games and had six points in 16 minutes against Wagner.
Cincinnati: Junior guard Troy Caupain scored six points, ending his career-best streak of four straight games scoring in double digits.
Morgan State: The Bears have two weeks off before hosing Manhattan on Dec. 20.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats play No. 12 Xavier on their crosstown rival's court next Saturday. It'll be the first rivalry game at Xavier since the schools' on-court brawl four years ago. The game was played at a neutral site downtown for two years before returning to campus last season, with Xavier winning 59-57 on Cincinnati's court.
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