Kenyon Martin made sure top-ranked Cincinnati passed its first real test of the season.
With their senior center falling a rebound and blocked shot short of a triple-double, the Bearcats beat Iowa State 75-60 Sunday night in the championship game of the Big Island Invitational and avoided joining the long list of preseason Top Ten teams to lose before December even starts.
Martin had 22 points, nine rebounds and nine blocked shots to lead Cincinnati (4-0), which won its first three games of the season by an average of 28 points, but were only up five on the Cyclones (3-2) with 1:59 to play.
Iowa State's three-guard offense left it at a size disadvantage, but with forward Marcus Fizer battling up front for 26 points, the Cyclones trailed 65-60 on his drive with 1:59 left.
Those were Iowa State's final points of the game as Cincinnati went 10-for-10 from the foul line the rest of the game.
"He does that all the time," Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins said of Martin. "He only gets better and better and better. A year ago he couldn't do what he does offensively but he was always that good rebounding and guarding the ball."
Huggins was happy with his team's rebounding in the second half and said the questions he had about the freshmen were answered with the three games in three days.
"The freshmen were OK but they have to get a whole lot better," Huggins said before turning the conversation back to Martin. "There was never a question about No. 4."
The Bearcas opened the second half with an 8-2 run six of the points came on offensive rebounds to take a 46-32 lead with 17:21 left.
Iowa State, even with Fizer out for four minutes after he picked up his third personal foul, stayed within striking distance until the final two minutes.
Steve Logan, who made six of the closing free throws and was 12-for-12 in the game, finished with 16 points and DerMarr Johnson had 14 for the Bearcats.
"I want the ball in my hands at the end of the game just for that reason," said Logan, who shot 95 percent from the foul line as a high school senior and 78 percent as a freshman last season.
Jamaal Tinsley added 12 points for the Cyclones and Michael Nurse had 10.
Fizer finished 12-for-19 from the field and had four rebounds.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game and I thought they were going to start Kenyon on me but was a wise decision by Coach Huggins not to because he was such a defensive presence off the ball," Fizer said. "They just did a great job."
"We knew what we had ahead of us and we just couldn't match their physical presence and toughness," Iowa State coach Larry Eustachy said. "That is the No. 1 team in the country when you combine coaching, athleticism and talent."
With the score 9-9, Tinsley was pinched in a trap near midcourt and as he struggled to turn and get rid of the ball there was plenty of contact both ways but no call was made. Johnson stripped the ball and went in for a dunk. Eustachy went ballistic in front of his bench and was charged with a technical foul.
Logan made both free throws on the technical but Cincinnati came up empty on the ensuing possession.
Both coaches kept working the officials hard and Huggins fell to the floor in exasperation when Martin was charged with his second foul on what appeared both live and on replays to be a clean block of a shot down low by Fizer.
Fizer made one of two free throws and Cincinnati's Ryan Fletcher hit a jumper with 3:45 left for a 34-24 lead, the biggest of the opening 20 minutes that ended with the Bearcats up 38-30 and both teams shooting 50 percent or better.
Martin said it may have been to Iowa State's disadvantage to have come out as physically as it did.
"I think that takes away from what teams can do if they come out and try to be so physical with us," he said. "I think that's obvious and to our advantage."
Every member of the preseason Top Ten except Cincinnati, North Carolina and Arizona has already lost at least one game this season.
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