CINCINNATI -- Troy Caupain and Jacob Evans III scored 15 points apiece, and No. 24 Cincinnati overcame low-percentage shooting to beat Southeastern Louisiana 64-49 on Tuesday night.
Playing as a ranked team for the first time in two seasons, the Bearcats (5-0) struggled to make shots and led by only three points midway through the second half.
Evans made a pair of free throws and back-to-back 3s that helped Cincinnati pull away down the stretch, finishing with a career high. Gary Clark had 12 points and eight rebounds.
Southeastern Louisiana (1-4) was coming off a coming off 92-65 loss at Nebraska on Sunday. Despite the travel and the quick turnaround, the Lions stayed with Cincinnati and trailed by only three points midway through the second half.
Zay Jackson had 15 points apiece for Southeastern Louisiana.
The Bearcats jumped into the Top 25 by blowing out opponents and shooting 50.8 percent from the field. They scored their 385 points in their first four games, their highest season-opening total since 1976-77.
The points were much harder to get on Tuesday night, with the Bearcats repeatedly missing up-close shots and long-range ones, too. Midway through the second half, the Bearcats were shooting 34 percent from the field and led only 38-35.
They hit four 3s in a row -- the first two by Evans -- as they built a 10-point cushion and held on.
Cincinnati couldn't make a 3 at the outset. The Bearcats missed their first six shots from beyond the arc before Clark connected during a 14-2 run that put Cincinnati ahead 23-11. Daniel Grieves made a 3-pointer and a jumper during a nine-point run that kept the Lions close.
Cincinnati led 30-22 at halftime, shooting 34.5 percent from the field and 2 of 11 from beyond the arc.
It didn't get any better in the second half. Cincinnati missed seven of its first 11 shots, helping the Lions hang in there.
Southeastern Louisiana came in averaging 10 steals per game - 17th nationally - but forced only 11 turnovers.
Southeastern Louisiana: Joshua Filmore was only 4 of 17 from beyond the arc heading into the game. He made the Lions' first three baskets - all 3-pointers from the right corner - but finished 4 of 11 from beyond the arc.
Cincinnati: Farad Cobb was 16 of 28 on 3-pointers coming into the game, including 10 of 17 in last two games. He was only 1 of 4 on Tuesday.
Southeastern Louisiana: The Lions play Gardner-Webb in the Barclays Center Classic.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats play Nebraska on Friday in the Brooklyn Hoops Classic.