CINCINNATI (AP)—The only thing missing was modesty.
Jason Maxiell scored 19 points, and No. 12 Cincinnati used a balanced attack and an unrelenting press to beat Elon 102-63 on Tuesday night to extend its best start in five years.
“I think we should be ranked higher than what we are,” said forward Eric Hicks, one of six Bearcats who scored in double figures. “In my opinion, we’re No. 1.”
The Bearcats (9-0) did just about anything they wanted in a performance so solid that Bob Huggins gave his players two days off—a rare reward from a demanding coach.
“As a team tonight, I’d give us an `A-plus,”’ said guard Tony Bobbitt, who made the game’s statement play.
Even Huggins was pleased by most of what he saw. Ten players are averaging at least 10 minutes a game, giving him the option of substituting five at a time to keep the press going.
It’s a stark contrast to last season, when the Bearcats won only 17 games and failed to win the Conference USA regular season title for the first time.
“We’re a lot better than we were a year ago,” Huggins said. “There’s a lot of things we have to get better at, but they really do play hard and try to do what we want them to do. I think they’ll bet better because of it.”
Elon (4-7) got so flustered by the press that it had three over-and-back violations and three shot clock violations, part of a 25-turnover game.
“It’s about who imposes their style of play on the other team,” Elon coach Ernie Nestor said.
Maxiell scored on dunks and pull-up jumpers, showcasing his versatility against an overmatched man-to-man defense. The power forward made all but two of his 11 shots.
Field Williams added 15 points, and Hicks, Bobbitt and James White each had 13 as Cincinnati put up its highest point total in 50 games. The Bearcats scored 33 points off turnovers.
Scottie Rice scored 18 points for Elon, which lost two games in Cincinnati in four days. The Phoenix lost 75-58 at Xavier on Saturday, piling up 19 turnovers.
Elon has lost all of its five road games, including a 97-55 drubbing at Wake Forest on Nov. 22.
Even when Elon got through the press, it rushed its shots. Rice went 4-of-8 from behind the arc and had 15 points in the first half, but no one else could make a shot consistently.
The Phoenix missed 10 of their first 13 shots, allowing Cincinnati to take control from the outset and work on some of its weaknesses.
Huggins complained about the Bearcats’ poor passing and stagnant halfcourt offense in an 83-63 victory over Miami of Ohio on Saturday night. This time, things were much better.
Cincinnati had 14 assists in the first half as it pulled ahead 55-29. Maxiell went 6-of-7 from the field, and the Bearcats shot 65.5 percent.
“We were almost unselfish to a fault today,” Huggins said.
Bobbitt put an exclamation point on the domination by stealing a pass with 5 seconds left and dribbling the length of the floor for uncontested for a dunk.
Huggins also has been unhappy with his team’s tendency to go soft with a big lead. The Bearcats kept up the pressure in the second half, allowing Elon to get no closer than 24.
With 10 minutes left, the Bearcats led by 35 and had five players in double figures. Cincinnati’s defense also picked up, preventing Rice from scoring again until less than 4 minutes remained.