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Kirkland leads Bearcats with 19 points

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Armein Kirkland scored 19 points and No. 20 Cincinnati overcame a weak showing on the boards to beat Detroit Mercy 61-44 on Saturday night.

The Bearcats (6-0) struggled up front without Eric Hicks,
sidelined by a swollen knee. They got outrebounded 40-26 and couldn't put away a down-and-out team.

Detroit (1-6) has lost six in a row, its longest losing streak since the 1991-92 season. The Titans are off to their worst start since 1998, when they opened 1-12.

A lack of scorers is Detroit's big problem. The Titans lost four of their five starters from last season, and it shows in the offense. They've scored 70 points only once and have yet to lead at halftime.

They trailed 32-21 at halftime on Saturday, while Cincinnati struggled without one of its toughest front-line players.

Hicks, one of two power forwards who help the Bearcats get by without a center, sat on the bench in uniform with a swollen left knee, hurt when he landed awkwardly after a reverse dunk Thursday night in an 88-72 victory over Vanderbilt.

Detroit smothered power forward Jason Maxiell, who rarely got involved in the offense and has to get most of his points off his own initiative. Maxiell got only four field goals and had 15 points and six rebounds.

Torvoris Baker scored 11 for Detroit, which cut a 14-point deficit to 41-37 midway through the half before fading. Kirkland scored five consecutive points, starting an eight-point spurt that rebuilt the lead to double-digits and ended the comeback.

Detroit's rebounding edge kept it close until the closing minutes even though the Titans shot only 29 percent from the field and went 3-of-16 from behind the 3-point arc.

Cincinnati would get only one shot at a time, enough to stay ahead but not nearly enough to pull away. Coach Bob Huggins went deep into his bench looking for an answer, but couldn't find one.

The Bearcats made their first five shots for a 12-3 lead before the game settled into its pattern -- Cincinnati played tough defense, Detroit controlled the boards.

A 10-point run capped by Muhammad Abdur-Rahim's 3-pointer cut it to 41-37 with 11:54 to go. Detroit was shooting only 34 percent at that point but leading in rebounds 30-15.

When Detroit got yet another offensive rebound, Hicks stood on the sideline and pulled his warmup shirt over his face, unable to watch.