CINCINNATI (AP) — The Cincinnati Bearcats didn’t exactly look polished with their leading scorer watching from the bench in street clothes, but their they still had more than enough against overmatched Alabama A&M.
Chris Vogt set season highs with 16 points and 10 rebounds and Cincinnati pulled away from the Bulldogs for an 85-53 win on Thursday without Jarron Cumberland, who was sidelined with what first-year Cincinnati coach John Branned called a "coach's decision."
Trevon Scott scored 16 points, Jaevin Cumberland added 13 and Keith Williams finished with 11 for Cincinnati (2-1), which never trailed and led by as many as 33 points despite committing a season-high 18 turnovers.
"It was a matter of different lineups — random lineups and people not playing together," Vogt said. "A lot of it was being careless with the ball."
Thirteen of Cincinnati's turnovers were committed in the first half, which Brannen made sure to point out at halftime.
"Obviously, tonight was a tale of two halves," said Brannen, who voiced his unhappiness with his team's first-half energy. "We're always excited to get a win. We had much better energy and took better care of the basketball in the second half. I told the guys we need to have the same tenacity."
The win was the second straight for Cincinnati since a season-opening 64-56 loss at then-No. 18 Ohio State.
Cameron Alford led Alabama A&M (0-3) with 10 points.
Jaevin Cumberland made his first start of the season in place of his cousin Jarron, last season’s American Athletic Conference Player of the Year and this season’s AAC pre-season Player of the Year. Brannen wouldn't say whether Cumberland would be benched for more than one game.
"That's the great part of a coach's decision," he said. "You get to reevaluate it."
"It was weird, but you've still got to play," Williams said.
The 7-foot-1 Vogt’s performance helped the Bearcats build an impressive 53-27 rebound advantage. He went 7-for-9 from the field.
"The guys did a great job finding me tonight," said Vogt, who followed Brannen from Northern Kentucky.
"I think Chris continues to do a great job solidifying his ability to score in the post," Brannen said. "You've got to have an inside presence in this league or any league."
Cincinnati quickly took control with a 10-0 run that left the Bearcats leading 19-5 with 13:09 left in the first half. The Bulldogs didn’t reach double figures until Brandon Miller’s short jump shot gave them 11 points with 8:38 left before halftime.
Alabama A&M: Thursday’s game was the third of a season-opening five straight on the road for the Bulldogs.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats improved to 18-0 all-time against current Southwestern Athletic Conference teams in coach John Brannen’s first game against a SWAC team.
Alabama A&M’s starting lineup included freshman guard E.J Williams, a native of Middletown, Ohio, located about 25 miles north of Cincinnati.
Jaevin Cumberland’s team-high six assists included an alert alley-oop pass to a wide-open Scott, who finished with a dunk that drew the night's loudest roar from the crowd of 9,830.
RAISING THE BAR
Vogt's points and Jaevin Cumberland's assists both were single-game season highs for Cincinnati.
Alabama A&M’s Southwest Ohio tour is scheduled to continue with a noon game at Miami (Ohio) on Saturday.
Cincinnati is off until its game against Illinois State on Friday in the first round of the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands.