No. 19 Cincinnati 89, Oakland 60
CINCINNATI (AP)—In the first minute of a career night, Jason Maxiell felt his coach’s wrath. He wasn’t alone.
Maxiell returned from an early benching and scored a career-high 26 points Monday night, leading No. 19 Cincinnati to an 89-60 victory over Oakland.
Only 77 seconds into the game, coach Bob Huggins angrily called a timeout, waved his starters off the floor and yelled to the bench: “Give me five!”
Five backups went into the game and started a surge toward a 27-point lead, underscoring the depth and balance that Cincinnati (2-0) has at its disposal this season.
“We knew we did wrong,” Maxiell said. “It gets us a little upset to come in and work harder. We’ve got a lot of weapons on the bench.”
Huggins wasn’t happy with the Bearcats’ lack of hustle in their preseason exhibitions, and wasn’t going to put up with another lackluster performance. He benched his starters after Oakland (2-3) got the game’s first three rebounds.
“Maybe I’m not starting the right five guys,” Huggins said. “We can’t start five guys who don’t have energy.”
Everyone got the message and got their energy level up. The Bearcats went back to the trapping defense that was their hallmark in the 1990s but had been abandoned in recent years for a halfcourt man-to-man.
A rattled Oakland shot only 32 percent from the field with 13 turnovers as it fell behind by 27 points in the first half. The Golden Grizzlies never got closer than 14 points the rest of the way.
When Huggins benched his starters, Oakland coach Greg Kampe knew what was coming.
“That was the worst thing that could have happened to us,” Kampe said. “They just came out with fire. The next 10 minutes for us was total chaos. We didn’t handle the pressure. Cincinnati does that to a lot of teams.”
Maxiell, a junior power forward who worked on his dribbling and his mid-range shooting over the summer, got back into the game and hit jumpers as well as dunks. He went 10-of-15 from the field and had 12 rebounds.
“He got chewed (out) at halftime,” said Tony Bobbitt, who had eight points. “Max is our leader. He stepped up in the second half and demanded the basketball.”
Chadd Moore added a career-high 15 points, including a 3-pointer that ended an Oakland spurt that made it 69-55. Rawle Marshall led Oakland with 24 points.
The Golden Grizzlies were a step slow in their fifth road game in 11 days, and the Bearcats took advantage by repeatedly driving for easy layups or fastbreak dunks.
Cincinnati ran out to a 40-17 lead by making 18 of its first 21 shots—all but three of them from point-blank range. The Bearcats also finished with a 43-29 edge in rebounds.
For the third game in a row, Oakland’s leading scorer had a hard time getting an open shot. Senior guard Mike Helms, one of the nation’s top returning scorers, went only 4-of-18 from the field—and 1-of-9 on 3-point tries—for 13 points.
Helms is one of five returning starters off a Mid-Continent team that went 17-11 last season. He averaged 26.9 points last season, but has found good shots hard to come by.
Xavier held him to 6-for-25 shooting from the field as the Musketeers won the Black Coaches Association Classic title game by 10 points. Helms was only 6-for-17 in a 26-point loss at Michigan, and missed 10 of his first 12 shots against Cincinnati.