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MVSU-Cincinnati Preview

AP - Sports

It didn't take long for Cincinnati to establish control in a lopsided season opener.

The No. 24 Bearcats can probably expect a repeat performance Tuesday night when they host rebuilding Mississippi Valley State.

Cincinnati (1-0) had no trouble with an overmatched foe Sunday, winning 80-57 over Tennessee-Martin. The Bearcats, who lost to Ohio State in the NCAA tournament regional semifinals last season, opened with a 14-2 run within the first seven minutes and led 33-6 with 6:47 left in the first half.

"We've worked so hard to get to where we are now, but everyone wants to be better," guard Sean Kilpatrick said. "We want things to be better for this program and we want to be in a different slate than where we are now."

Cashmere Wright scored 16 points and Kilpatrick added 14 as Cincinnati limited its opponent to 28.4 percent shooting. Cheikh Mbodj recorded four of the Bearcats' 10 blocks.

"It is a process," coach Mick Cronin said. "There are still a lot of things that we are trying to implement. For the most part, we are getting better every day so that is the key. We have to make sure we keep getting better."

Mississippi Valley State (0-1) also figures to provide little competition since the Delta Devils do not resemble the team that went 21-13 a season ago, won the Southwestern Athletic Conference and fell to Western Kentucky in the NCAA tournament.

Coach Sean Woods moved on to take over at Morehead State. Chico Potts is the new coach, and his Delta Devils lost eight players who averaged at least 15 minutes a season ago, with that group accounting for 98.9 percent of their offense.

Cincinnati is 12-0 all-time against SWAC opponents. The Bearcats won 74-48 at home Dec. 11, 1999, in their lone previous meeting with the Delta Devils.

Potts lost his debut on Friday, 93-57 at Mississippi. The Delta Devils trailed by 23 points at halftime and finished with 23 turnovers. Junior college transfer Davon Usher was the lone Mississippi Valley State player to reach double figures with 19 points in his Division I debut.

Cronin said he wanted his team to work on certain areas with one day to prepare for this game. The Bearcats committed 19 turnovers Sunday and made 15 of 27 free throws.

"Basketball is a game of mistakes," he said. "To be a great team, you have to be like a machine and eliminate mistakes: defensive breakdowns, careless passing, and things that are controllable."

The Bearcats don't want to take anything for granted on this season-opening four-game homestand after November home losses to Presbyterian and Marshall in 2011.

"You have to play these games," Cronin said. "Playing 31 you have to get them in. That's why we start so soon. I'm sure our guys would rather play than practice. I would rather practice."

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