CINCINNATI (AP) Sean Kilpatrick scored 22 points and Jermaine Sanders added a career-high 13 as the Cincinnati Bearcats held off a North Carolina Central Eagles comeback before pulling away for a 74-61 win on Friday in the season-opener for both teams.
Titus Rubles also reached double figures with 13 points for Cincinnati (1-0).
NCCU senior Jeremy Ingram scored a game-high 27 points, 19 in the second half, before fouling out with 6:20 left in the game. Jay Copeland fouled out on a technical foul with 4:08 left with 11 points for the Eagles (0-1).
Before a crowd of 6,532, the Bearcats improved to 21-1 in season-openers at Fifth Third Arena and 31-2 in their last 33 season openers overall. The Bearcats have won 48 of their last 49 home openers, the only loss to Belmont, 86-75, in 2007.
In the first-ever meeting between the two teams, Cincinnati led by as many as 15 points, 60-45, on a Kilpatrick 3-pointer with 11:11 left in the game before the Eagles mounted a comeback led by Ingram, whose free throw with 7:04 remaining cut the Bearcats' lead to 62-57.
Cincinnati held NCCU without a field goal during a 22-4 run that pulled the Bearcats from a 14-6 deficit to a 28-18 lead with 5:30 left in the first half. Sanders sank two 3-pointers during the run.
Rubles scored nine points in the first half to help Cincinnati take a 40-26 lead by halftime.
The Bearcats shook off a rough start to their season, missing their first seven shots from the field before Jackson scored on a layup with 14:34 left in the first half.
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. Cincinnati is scheduled to face a second North Carolina team, North Carolina State, on Tuesday.
The Eagles are scheduled to play Johnson and Wales in their home-opener on Monday.