----David Jefferson challenges Marvin Gentry

CINCINNATI - Dave Bezold will never rely on the local media to provide scouting reports on future opponents. Not after what happened Wednesday night when Northern Kentucky University visited the University of Cincinnati.

Determined to prove the local scribes of doom wrong in their predictions, Cincinnati held NKU to just two field goals in the first half en route to an 87-41 victory over the Norse in Fifth Third Arena. The Bearcats - picked by several reporters and talk-show hosts to lose the exhibition game against Division II NKU - shot 60 percent from the field and rolled to the win over the Norse.

"I kept reading in the media about how we had more experience. But as you can see, they've got some pretty good players," Bezold said. "Those guys are tough, they're strong and they're going to surprise some people.

"I wasn't surprised by their physical presence because this is the Big East and the University of Cincinnati. It just shows the difference between a high-major Division I body and a Division II body."

NKU actually held a 2-0 lead just 18 seconds into the game when James Cripe took a pass from Steven Wright and powered his way in for a basket. UC, however, countered with a 10-0 run and NKU never recovered.

Two free throws by Billy Finnell cut the UC lead to 10-4, but the Bearcats used a 14-0 run to build a 24-4 advantage with 10:31 remaining in the first half. John Williamson and Cedric McGowan each scored five points during the UC spurt.

"We just basically came out with a lot of hustle, and we got the loose balls and made plays," said McGowan, the only returning starter from last season's 21-13 team. "We knew we had to get in there defensively and offensively. We found that although we are small, we are very fast and effective."

The Bearcats made Mick Cronin's debut as head coach a comfortable experience by building a 47-11 lead at halftime. NKU shot just 2-for-13 from the field, missed all eight of its 3-point attempts and committed 17 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes. Many of the NKU turnovers led to transition baskets by the Bearcats.

"You can either score or you can't. It doesn't matter what level you're at," Bezold said of his team's shooting woes. "We stress fundamentals so much every single day and then to turn the ball over 17 times in the first half."

----Steven Wright looks for an opening

NKU hit nine 3-pointers in the second half, but UC continued its torrid shooting from the field (53.8 percent) and coasted to the win. The Bearcats won the rebounding battle by a 42-19 margin and committed just 13 turnovers.

Williamson finished with a game-high 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds in his UC debut. The 6-foot-6 junior forward was 8-for-12 from the field. McGowan added 18 points and five rebounds, while Marvin Gentry scored 11 points.

Wright led NKU with nine points and five rebounds. Anthony Teague scored seven points, while Mark Hawkins added six points and a team-leading three assists. The Norse finished by hitting 26.7 percent of their shots from the field.

NKU is now 0-6 against UC in exhibition games. The average margin of victory for the Bearcats in those exhibitions is 30.3 points per game.

"Our main goal was to outhustle our opponent, which is always our first goal. And we did that, especially the first half," Cronin said. "Our defensive hand activity was great. Our shot selection was great. Our passing went well."

UC, in fact, dished out 20 assists as a team. NKU, meanwhile, finished with six assists. Ronald Allen blocked three shots for the Bearcats, while Williamson added two rejections.

NKU will finish its exhibition schedule next Monday at 7 p.m. with a game at Xavier in the Cintas Center. The Norse begin the regular season Nov. 17 against Ferris State in the opening round of the John L. Griffin/Lions Club Classic in Regents Hall.

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