Cincinnati Bearcats guard Jarron Cumberland (34) shoots the ball as South Florida Bulls forward Luis Santos (42) defends during the second half at Fifth Third Arena. Cincinnati won 94-53. Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
CINCINNATI (AP) — The 19th-ranked Bearcats appreciated an easy game at the right time.
Freshman Jarron Cumberland scored 18 of his career-high 26 points in the second half and the Bearcats rolled to their 12th straight victory on Sunday, 94-53 over South Florida.
The Bearcats (19-2, 8-0 American Athletic Conference) used their bench often against the conference’s last-place team, with the reserves contributing 60 points. Cincinnati extended its longest winning streak since it took 15 in a row in 2013-14.
Cincinnati was coming off an emotional 86-78 win over No. 24 Xavier in a crosstown rivalry game Thursday night on the Bearcats’ home court. They’ve won 21 straight home games, their third-longest streak since the arena opened in 1989.
“It took us a while to get in the game, get our emotions going,” forward Kyle Washington said. “We had guys that were a little fatigued. Once we got the juices flowing, you saw we were in sync. We got rolling.”
Cumberland scored 18 of Cincinnati’s 20 points over one stretch in the second half, hitting four 3s during the spurt. He had 15 points in the win over Xavier.
“I’ve got to knock down those shots,” Cumberland said. “It’s just about building confidence.”
South Florida (6-14, 0-9) has dropped nine straight, a streak that includes the firing of coach Orlando Antigua on Jan. 3. The Bulls also lost nine in a row last season, when they finished 8-25. Michael Bibby scored a career-high 17 points for the Bulls, who had a season-high 24 turnovers.
South Florida’s Geno Thorpe didn’t play after injuring his ankle on Friday, contributing to the Bulls’ high turnover rate. Cincinnati scored 34 points off South Florida’s turnovers.
“When you lose Geno Thorpe, it just makes it very, very difficult because he is kind of our guy,” interim coach Murry Bartow said. “He’s kind of that alpha male for us — that physical, tough player. And I don’t want to act like we win the game with him, but we would have looked differently with him in the game on both ends of the floor.”
Washington had 11 of his 13 points in the first half as Cincinnati opened a 49-25 lead.
Cincinnati opened the week with its highest ranking of the season and is positioned to move up with a pair of wins. The Bearcats have been ranked for eight consecutive weeks.
South Florida: The Bulls have lost eight games by double digits during their skid, three of them by more than 20 points.
Cincinnati: Coach Mick Cronin was able to go to his bench early and rest his starters. Point guard Troy Caupain played a season-low 16 minutes and had two points.
The 41-point win was Cincinnati’s biggest in four seasons of American Athletic Conference play, topping a 31-point win over the Bulls last season.
The shot clock above the basket in front of the Bulls’ bench wasn’t working, but the game tipped off anyway. The public address announcer would say when 10 seconds and five seconds remained for a team to shoot. The shot clock was working for the start of the second half, and then went out again.
Cincinnati freshman center Nysier Brooks hyperextended his right knee with 4:36 and had to be helped off the court. Brooks averages eight minutes and 2.8 points per game. He was walking without assistance after the game.
The Bulls host Memphis on Thursday. They’re 5-7 at home with four straight losses.
The Bearcats play at Tulsa on Wednesday. They lost at Tulsa 70-68 in overtime last season.