Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Mick Cronin talks to his team during a time out in the first half against the Chicago State Cougars at FifthThird Arena.
CINCINNATI (AP) — Sean Kilpatrick widened his eyes when told what that lopsided rebounding margin meant.
"A school record?" he said. "That’s wild."
And that wasn’t all the Bearcats took away from their most dominant performance of the season. For 40 minutes, Cincinnati saw the kind of team it could be when its offense catches up with everything else.
Jermaine Sanders was one of three Cincinnati players with double-doubles, and the Bearcats turned in the most dominant rebounding performance in their history, beating Chicago State 102-62 on Monday night.
Sanders had his first career double-double in Cincinnati’s big first half and finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds. It was the first time in 12 years that the Bearcats had three players with double-doubles.
Cincinnati had 25 assists on 37 baskets, passing the ball to get open shots against an overmatched defense.
The last time Cincinnati had three players with double-doubles was Dec. 8, 2001, when Steve Logan, Jason Maxiell and Leonard Stokes did it during a 90-39 win over Coppin State.
The Bearcats finished with a season high in points and had seven players in double figures.
"The best it’s been, no question," coach Mick Cronin said. "We got the ball moving. Just like bad shots are contagious, unselfishness is contagious. That’s what we’ve got to do to develop our offense."
Cincinnati (10-2) has won three in a row since dropping back-to-back games against New Mexico and crosstown rival Xavier. The Bearcats used their front-line advantage in this one, dominating the boards 69-21. The plus-48 rebound margin was a school record.
"We want to be like that every game," forward Justin Jackson said. "We want to get every rebound. We just did that today."
Forward Justin Jackson finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Kilpatrick added 21 points and 10 rebounds for Cincinnati, which shot 43.5 percent from the field.
We’ve been playing basketball here for over 100 years, so it’s something to be proud of, I guess
-Mick Cronin on Cincinnati's rebounding record
"We did a lot today," Kilpatrick said.
Chicago State (5-7) remained winless on the road, going 0-7 with four of the losses by double digits. Quinton Pippen had 20 points for the Cougars, who managed only three offensive rebounds all game and gave up 33.
"I can tell you that we aren’t going to see this type of athleticism anymore on our schedule," coach Tracy Dildy said. "I feel really relieved about that."
The previous Cincinnati record for rebounding margin was plus-45 during a 109-82 win over Tennessee on Dec. 7, 1955.
"We’ve been playing basketball here for over 100 years, so it’s something to be proud of, I guess," Cronin said.
The Bearcats wanted to break their streak of slow starts. In the last four games, they’d scored 20, 25, 20 and 21 points in the first half.
They did it emphatically, racing ahead 48-29 while matching their highest-scoring opening half of the season. Sanders, a 6-foot-5 junior forward, got a double-double in the half with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Cronin has urged Sanders to be more assertive this season. He was in the first half.
"Jermaine Sanders — when it was a game in the first half, he was by far the MVP," Cronin said.
Chicago State packed in its defense to try to limit Cincinnati’s brawnier front line. As a result, the Cougars gave up open shots from the perimeter, and Cincinnati went 8 of 20 beyond the arc in the first half. The Bearcats also dominated the boards 35-11 in the half, getting 16 offensive rebounds.
Half-court offense has been a problem for the Bearcats, who had trouble making shots again at the outset. They went 3 of 12 from the field with four turnovers, allowing Chicago State to stay close.
Kilpatrick hit back-to-back 3s that got Cincinnati’s offense going. The Bearcats closed the half with a 25-9 spurt, holding the Cougars scoreless for more than 6 minutes.
Chicago State never made a run in the second half, with Cincinnati controlling the game under the boards.