DALLAS — Jermaine Sanders scored 15 points, including one of two huge 3-pointers for Cincinnati as it started to pull away late in a 62-54 win over No. 23 SMU on Thursday night.
Sanders swished a 3-pointer from the right corner with 4:40 left to put the Bearcats (16-6, 7-3 American Athletic) up 53-46.
SMU (18-5, 9-2), in its first game since getting back in the Top 25 this week, pulled to 55-52 after Sterling Brown had a putback of his own shot after he had rebounded a Cincinnati miss and drove the court only to miss a layup.
With the shot clock running down after Cincinnati got the ball back, Shaq Thomas made a 3 from the right wing.
Farad Cobb and Troy Caupain each added 14 points for the Bearcats.
Cannen Cunningham led SMU with 14 points while Brown had 12.
Cincinnati was plagued by turnovers in the first half, but pulled out the game that featured nine lead changes and eight ties after that. The last lead change came when Octavius Ellis made two free throws to go up 45-44 with 7 1/2 minutes left.
Cincinnati didn’t miss a shot in the first 10 minutes of the game, but took only three shots while committing 10 turnovers in that span.
The game was tied at 7-7 after Nic Moore had a steal and Yanick Moreira had a tip-in putback. Cunningham had a steal less than a minute after that and got the ball to Moore, who feed Ryan Manuel for a go-ahead two-handed slam dunk while being fouled. Manuel missed the free throw. Cunningham then added a dunk of his own.
That was all part of a 10-1 run that pushed SMU in front 15-8 with 7:47 left in the first after a 3-pointer by Brown, the first SMU make that wasn’t a dunk or tip-in (two each) since his 3 for SMU’s first basket of the game.
The Bearcats wound up shooting 57 percent (21 of 37), and finished with 17 turnovers.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats have held 26 consecutive opponents under 70 points, the nation’s longest active streak. … Ellis has made 22 consecutive free throws the previous five games, but missed his first attempt against SMU midway through the first half. He made the second.
SMU: Mustangs seniors Ryan Manuel and Cunningham have each played in 123 career games. That is only two short of the school record 125 set by Butch Moore from 1982-86.
Cincinnati: Hosts South Florida on Saturday night.
SMU: At Tulsa on Saturday night.