Cincinnati 68, ECU 49

Cincinnati (11-3, 2-0 AAC) scored 40 points in the paint and held ECU (7-9, 0-3 AAC) to just 27 percent shooting in the Bearcats' 69-48 victory at Fifth Third Arena Tuesday.

Cincinnati had few problems handling the East Carolina men’s basketball team Tuesday night. Behind their 40 points in the paint and a stingy defense, the Bearcats coasted to a 69-48 victory at Fifth Third Arena.

Homegrown sophomore Kevin Johnson and junior Octavious Ellis tied for a team-best 12 points, while freshman Clayton N.C. native, Gary Clark, who was recruited by ECU coming out of Summer Country Day, pulled down a career-best 16 rebounds to go along with eight points.

Collectively, Cincinnati (11-3, 2-0 American Athletic Conference) hit 26 of its 55 field goal attempts and limited ECU (7-9, 0-3 AAC) to just 27 percent shooting (17-for-63). The Bearcats also out-rebounded the Pirates by a wide margin, 47-35.

Pirates’ freshman B.J. Tyson booked team-highs in both scoring (13 points) and rebounding (7). Tyson’s fellow backcourt mate Terry Whisnant was the only other Pirate in double figures with 11 points.

Cincinnati has now won all eight meetings against East Carolina, dating back to a non-conference matchup in 1991 and when the two schools were members of Conference USA from 2002-2005. ECU has lost all five of its “true” road games this season and 10 straight stretching back to last season.

The Pirates missed their first eight field goal attempts Tuesday, but still managed to keep the score close in the first half. A pair of Tyson free throws capped a stretch of six consecutive points for ECU and trimmed Cincinnati’s early nine-point advantage to 16-13.

However, with the game sitting at 25-18, the Bearcats closed the half on a 13-4 run — culminating on an alley-oop dunk by Shaq Thomas as time expired — to open the flood gates and subsequently, balloon their lead to 38-22 going into the locker room.

Cincinnati continued to attack the rim when the action resumed. Jermaine Sanders hit a tip-in at the rim, then, shortly after, Ellis netted a jumper to complete a 12-4 run to open the second half. Meanwhile, the Pirates’ four true forwards combined for just seven points and 12 rebounds.

The host’s lead grew as large as 24 points twice, including in the game’s final minute when walk-on Zack Tobler scoring an and-1 layup after drawing contact from Kanu Aja.

ECU players will begin their spring semesters beginning next week. Following an eight-day layoff, which is the team’s largest hiatus of the season, the Pirates will host Houston on Jan. 14.

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