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Bearcats Wake Up in Second Half to Top Milwaukee 74-63

After going back and forth for the first 20 minutes, the Bearcats finally pulled away to earn their second win of the year.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina Central at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Friday night was a second half kind of night for the Cincinnati Bearcats, as they overcame an upstart Milwaukee Panthers team at Fifth Third Arena with a 74-63 victory.

Based on a noticeable difference in records, the Bearcats (2-1) were expected to easily get past the still winless Panthers (0-4), but at halftime, they were locked at 33-33. UC shot 47 percent in those first 20 minutes, but were dreadful at the free throw line (3-for-10), while the Panthers were able to get it going from three-point line (5-for-10).

The score remained close deep into the second frame, but the Bearcats eventually pulled away, closing the game on a 26-14 run to turn a 49-48 deficit into the 11-point margin of victory. They also continued to shoot well in the period, connecting on 54 percent, while the Panthers cooled off at 38 percent.

While the win wasn’t as convincing as UC might have liked, it was a reassuring return to form for Cane Broome. After being demoted to the bench for Tuesday’s game against NC Central, the senior point guard scored a team-high 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting in his return to the starting lineup. He had made only 1-of-13 shots combined in the first two games.

Broome wasn’t alone in putting points on the board. In fact, all five starters got into double figures. Trevon Scott (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Nysier Brooks (12 points, 10 rebounds) each posted double-doubles, helping the Bearcats to a major advantage on the glass (37-25) and in second chance points (17-7). Jarron Cumberland (14 points, 5-of-13 shooting) and Keith Williams (12 points) both got to double digits from a starting role as well. Freshman point guard Logan Johnson was the only reserve to score (four points) and he also handed out six assists while making both of his field goal tries.

Despite the win, the Bearcats still have some areas that need work, particularly their shooting from beyond the arc and at the foul line. They made only 4-of-19 threes and went 12-for-20 at the line. Those weaknesses nearly cost them, as the top scorer in the game was Milwaukee’s Carson Warren-Newsome.

Next up for the Bearcats is a home test against Western Michigan on Monday.