Cincinnati 77, Tulane 54
CINCINNATI (AP)—Leonard Stokes scored a season-high 30 points, rescuing Cincinnati’s bogged-down offense once again with 3-pointers and drives to the basket, as the Bearcats beat Tulane 77-54 on Saturday.
Stokes has steadied Cincinnati (11-3, 4-0 Conference USA) during a six-game winning streak. The senior guard has scored 20, 25 and 30 points in the last three games, turning into the Bearcats’ only reliable scorer.
Tulane (7-9, 0-3) dropped its eighth in a row against Cincinnati because it couldn’t stop Stokes, even when the Green Wave knew he was going to get the ball and shoot.
Stokes was 12-of-17 from the field, repeatedly driving through a thicket of defenders to make a layup or a leaning bank shot. Waitari Marsh led Tulane with 16 points.
Stokes was the only player on either team who asserted himself in a sloppy first half filled with turnovers and tantrums. Stokes was 6-of-8 for 14 points, including a fastbreak layup off a steal with 28 seconds to play made it 27-18 at halftime.
Cincinnati blew it open down the stretch, closing the game with a 21-10 spurt.
Both teams played tight man-to-man defense that gave up few open shots and left both coaches fuming over silly mistakes.
Cincinnati leads Division I with only 9.8 turnovers per game, but had 11 in the first half alone. After Stokes threw an errant pass into the backcourt for a turnover, Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins buried his face in his hands for five seconds without moving.
The Bearcats had 16 turnovers overall, two shy of their season high.
Huggins, who had a massive heart attack on Sept. 28, became increasingly irritated with his out-of-sync offense. First, he benched senior point guard Taron Barker, then sent freshman backup Chad Moore to the bench after a scolding, leaving the Bearcats without a true point guard on the floor for the last three minutes of the first half.
Tulane’s George Brown had a dunk cut it to 31-27 early in the second half, then missed a layup and got his third and fourth fouls within a 20-second span. Stokes hit two driving baskets, a 3-pointer and a fastbreak layup that built the lead to 42-29. The Green Wave never seriously threatened the rest of the way.