CINCINNATI - Sean Kilpatrick picked up where he left off, leading the University of Cincinnati to a season-opening win over North Carolina Central.
The senior guard scored 22 points in the Bearcats' 74-61 win Friday night at Fifth Third Arena.
Kilpatrick was fifth in the Big East with 17 points per game last season and is positioned to finish his career as one of Cincinnati's all-time leading scorers - possibly as high as No. 2 behind Oscar Robertson.
Titus Rubles and Jermaine Sanders each had 13 points for UC, and Rubles added eight rebounds.
The Bearcats (1-0) missed their first seven shots from the field and trailed by eight in the opening minutes but took the lead at the 8:39 mark of the first half and never gave it up.
Kilpatrick agreed with the suggestion that UC might have been a little too excited at the beginning of the game.
"That usually happens with season openers," he said. "We're so used to playing each other the whole summer and preseason, everyone is so hyped because we're playing someone else. We slowed down from the middle of the first half going into the second. Slowing down helps a lot."
UC's Justin Jackson had eight points, three rebounds and three blocks.
See the box score at http://www.gobearcats.com/sports/m-baskbl/stats/2013-2014/131108.html
"It was good for me to get some offense going," Jackson said. "I'm always going to be ready to play defense, but seeing my shot go in gave me a boost of confidence."
The Bearcats needed all of Jackson's points because NCC (0-1) bounced back from 15 points down with 16:17 left and pulled within five with just over seven minutes to go.
But college basketball's new emphasis on calling fouls paid off for the Bearcats.
NCC's Jeremy Ingram fouled out with 6:19 left and took his 27 points to the bench.
Then Jay Copeland, who had 11 points, fouled out on a technical foul with 4:08 left.
"It helped us down the stretch," Kilpatrick admitted after the game. "He (Ingram) is a great player. He's good off the dribble. He's small and hard to guard."
After that, UC closed on a 12-4 run with six points from Kilpatrick and four from Sanders.
The teams combined for 51 fouls, 29 on NCCU, with officials whistling contact such as hand checking that previously was allowed.
Cincinnati's depth was the difference, Eagles coach LeVelle Moton said.
"Attrition," he said. "They just wore us down, and the foul trouble hurt us. At the end of the day, I think we only had eight people. I thought I was about to have to check in for a minute."
The game was the first of seven straight at home for the Bearcats, who are playing their 25th season at Fifth Third Arena. The first four are part of the Global Sports Shootout.
UC hosts NC State Tuesday at 5 p.m in ESPN's College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon.
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