Cincinnati's Farad Cobb, center, scrambles for the ball against Norfolk State's Jeff Short, left, and Alex Long during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
John Minchillo
December 15, 2015

CINCINNATI (AP) No. 23 Cincinnati was still uneven as it recovered from a lopsided loss to its crosstown rival.

Farad Cobb matched his season high with 20 points, Gary Clark added 19, and No. 23 Cincinnati beat Norfolk State 75-59 on Tuesday night.

The Bearcats (9-2) had dropped two of three, including a home-court loss to Butler and a 65-55 defeat at No. 10 Xavier on Saturday. They were sloppy in the first half before pulling away.

''We've still got to work on playing 40 minutes,'' coach Mick Cronin said. ''We struggled with that in the Xavier game, struggled with that in the Butler game. That's just my biggest fight with this team.''

D'Shon Taylor had 14 points for Norfolk State (4-6), which trailed by only four points late in the first half. Cincinnati used big runs at the start of both halves to stay ahead.

''We started the game 15-0, and you can tell in our energy that we were really getting after it defensively,'' Clark said. ''It kind of died down near end of the half, and then we picked it back up. We've got to keep it up, keep going.''

Norfolk State's Jeff Short came into the game averaging 18.7 points in the last six games, but had a tough time finding shots against one of the country's toughest defenses. He missed all four of his shots in the first half and his first one in the second half before hitting a 3-pointer. He finished with five points on 1-of-10 shooting.

The Bearcats are holding opponents to 59 points per game, the 10th-fewest in the nation.

The Spartans rely on the 3-pointer - they came in shooting 45.2 percent from beyond the arc - but missed 12 of their first 14 attempts and finished 7 of 24.

Cincinnati opened with a 15-0 run, scoring on each of its first five possessions. The only flaw was Octavius Ellis missing a showy dunk attempt on a fast-break alley-oop play. The Spartans had a shot clock violation on their opening possession and missed their first seven shots.

''The intensity level,'' Norfolk State coach Robert Jones said, summing up the difference in the game. ''We lost by 16. We spotted them 15. The game would have been different if we wouldn't have done that - not saying we would have won, but it would have been different.''

Cincinnati missed four consecutive free throws and seven of nine shots in one stretch of the first half, allowing Norfolk State to cut the lead to 23-15.

Turnovers were a problem in Cincinnati's loss at Xavier on Saturday, and the Bearcats lost the ball four times during a four-minute span late it the first half on Tuesday. The crowd booed when Charles Oliver's fast-break layup cut it to 30-26 with 1:30 left in the half. The Bearcats led 34-26 at the break.

Clark had three baskets during a 9-2 run that opened the second half and built the lead to 16 points. The lead was 61-35 midway through the half.

GOT HIS SHOT BACK

Cobb hadn't scored 20 points since the fourth game of the season, getting no more than 11 points since. He went 5 of 8 from beyond the arc and 7 of 14 overall on Tuesday.

''I'm a person that can take a lot of shots and sometimes I feel every one of them is going in, and sometimes you just miss,'' he said.

TIP-INS

Norfolk State: The Spartans have made as many as 14 3-pointers - a school record - and as few as two in games this season.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats are 19-0 all-time against teams from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

UP NEXT

Norfolk State: The Spartans will play the fourth of eight straight road games at Evansville on Thursday.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats play at VCU on Saturday.

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Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay

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