CINCINNATI (Ticker) -- Cincinnati didn't give Bob Huggins an easy transition back to coaching.
The 20th-ranked Bearcats watched a four-point halftime lead dwindle into a six point second-half deficit before they rallied late for a 54-48 season-opening victory over Tennessee Tech.
Guard Taron Barker hit a 3-pointer with 1:11 left in the fourth quarter that capped an 18-8 run and gave Cincinnati (1-0) a 47-43 lead it would not relinquish. Barker finished with 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting.
"Coach told me that if I got the open shot to knock it in," Barker said. "We've got a lot of work to do. We'll get beat by 20 if we play like that against some of the other teams on our schedule."
Huggins, who suffered a heart attack in late September, was animated throughout as his team shot just 27 percent (19-of-68) from the floor, including 4-of-22 from behind the arc.
It marked the first time the Bearcats shot less than 30 percent since 1994 when they shot 29 percent in a game against DePaul, a span of 276 games.
"I don't know where to begin," Huggins said. "We've had a hard time scoring and we had too many breakdowns on defense that we're not accustomed to having."
Tennessee Tech's defensive performance was overshadowed by 17 turnovers. The Golden Eagles (0-1) play three of their first seven games against NCAA Tournament teams from las season.
Leonard Stokes scored 21 points on 7-of-20 shooting, but missed all five attempts from the 3-point arc for Cincinnati.
The Golden Eagles opened the second half with a 12-0 run that gave them a 35-29 lead, their largest of the game with 10:21 remaining.
"It was not a pretty game, but it was an exciting one for this time of year," Tennessee Tech coach Mike Sutton said. "I'm proud of our kids, I'm proud of how we played. We're disappointed, but you have to give UC credit."
Cameron Crisp paced the Golden Eagles with 16 points on 6-of-14 shooting and pulled down seven rebounds.
Cincinnati extended its winning streak in home openers to 37.