Top-ranked Cincinnati showed it's going to come at opponents a lot of ways this season and it's only been two games.
With senior center Kenyon Martin leading a veteran frontcourt and sophomore Steve Logan and freshman DerMarr Johnson having another big game as the starters in a group of young perimeter players, the Bearcats beat Cleveland State 91-56 Friday in the opening round of the Big Island Invitational.
"There are so many guys who can do so many things on this team," Martin said after scoring 20 points, 11 in the final five minutes of the first half when the Bearcats (2-0) pulled away to a 49-29 halftime lead.
"We have plenty of players on our team who can take over a game for a while, or for the whole game," said the 6-foot-9 Johnson, who had seven straight points, including two 3-pointers, in a first-half run that gave the Bearcats the lead for good. "Me, I'm a streaky kind of person and I just got off there for a while."
The Bearcats (2-0) will meet Santa Clara, which beat Rhode Island 79-70 in overtime, in Saturday's semifinals.
Cleveland State (0-2) came out with some impressive intensity in its first game ever against a No. 1 team, but the Vikings couldn't sustain it far into the second half and fell to 0-11 all-time against the Bearcats.
The matchup on the island of Hawaii was between schools located just 240 miles apart back in Ohio.
James Madison led the Vikings with 14 points.
"They are very, very athletic and very aggressive," said Cleveland State coach Rollie Massimino, no stranger to playing No. 1 teams from his days at Villanova when the Wildcats beat No. 1 Georgetown in the 1985 national championship game. "I thought we hung in there pretty good for about 14 minutes but we had to stick to the game plan and didn't."
Cleveland State had a 9-5 lead when the Bearcats' defense started to kick in. The Vikings scored just twice over the next seven minutes as Cincinnati took a 23-15 lead with Johnson scoring the last seven points of the run.
A 3 by Madison had the Vikings within 23-18 with 9:32 left, but the Bearcats went on a 9-0 run with Johnson getting four more points.
Martin was the key for Cincinnati as it closed the half with a 15-7 run to take a 49-29 lead. The two-time Conference USA player of the year, had all but two of the points in the closing run, including a dunk on a nice pass from freshman guard Kenny Satterfield with eight seconds left in the half for the 20-point lead.
"They were really ready to play and they had so much emotion," Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins said of Cleveland State. "I tried to tell my team they would come out that way and then we didn't rebound the ball and gave up too many second shots."
The closest Cleveland State got in the second half was 16 points, 51-35 on a spin move by Sonny Johnson with 17:16 left, but the Bearcats went on an 8-0 run that featured 3-pointers by Logan and Pete Mickeal and they led by at least 29 points over the final 7 1/2 minutes.
"We played well at times defensively but we didn't rebound well," Huggins said. "We tried to push the ball a little more but it seemed there were times where we forgot to get the ball before we pushed."
Massimino was happy with his young team's start.
"We were up four and then missed two layups and then they just came at us," he said. "The one great trait of that team is that he gets them to play hard. They continue to get you and get you and get you."
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