CINCINNATI (AP)—The game got out of hand quickly, giving a player right out of high school his chance to shine.
Roy Bright did, in just about every way.
The freshman forward had a career-high 17 points and 11 rebounds Monday night, helping No. 22 Cincinnati roll to a 95-43 victory over Jackson State that amounted to his coming-out party.
The Bearcats had no trouble improving to 8-0 for the fifth time in the last 10 seasons. They won their first 13 games last season, when they finished 25-7 and lost to Illinois in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
This one was the most impressive of the eight, coming two days after a lackluster 81-65 victory over Northwestern State.
“To tell you the truth, we just went out to have fun,” said guard Chadd Moore, who had nine of Cincinnati’s 27 assists. “We had a bad game the last game. We didn’t play up to our potential.”
Bright, one of North Carolina’s top prep players, replaced injury-slowed Eric Hicks in the starting lineup and had by far his best game, playing a career-high 23 minutes. He hadn’t scored more than six points in any previous game.
“Coach just told me to come out and focus on rebounding and defense and look for open shots, and that’s what I did,” Bright said. “With the speed of the game, it’s much different than high school ball.”
Hicks, who missed a game on Dec. 11 because of a strained knee, came off the bench and scored a team-high 18 points, leading four players in double figures.
“Eric’s been dinged up and didn’t make it through a full practice,” coach Bob Huggins said. “If you don’t make it through a full practice, you don’t start. It’s been that way for a long time here.”
Huggins got his 550th career win, improving his record at Cincinnati to 382-119 in 16 seasons. Among current coaches, Huggins ranks sixth in victories.
The Bearcats finished with their season-high in points and their most lopsided margin, taking advantage of a flustered team. Jason Maxiell had an emphatic dunk, a 16-foot jumper, a close-up basket and a free throw during an opening 14-0 run that got Jackson State (3-8) rattled.
“I think our guys feel like they’ve been run over by a big Mack truck,” coach Tevester Anderson said. “I know Bob’s had some great teams in the past, but this might be one of his better teams. It’s not one of his bigger teams, but they’re really quick.”
The Tigers never got comfortable against Cincinnati’s physical man-to-man defense, shooting only 23.9 percent from the field with 24 turnovers. Antonio Williams-Parker led the Tigers with 12 points.
Playing for the second time in three days, the Bearcats came out sharp and quickly took control against a lineup that was overmatched in size, speed and depth. Jackson State missed its first eight shots—four of them were swatted away as soon as they left the shooter’s hands—and had a shot clock violation in the opening 4 minutes.
Those 4 minutes set the tone.
“They blocked the first two shots we put up, and I think everybody kind of got glassy-eyed and backed down some,” Anderson said. “They challenged every shot.”
Cincinnati made dunks, midrange jumpers and a 3-pointer during the opening 14-0 spurt. Ernest Hassell’s jumper finally got Jackson State on the board at the 15:37 mark.
It never got much better for the Tigers, who had more turnovers (8) than points (7) with 9:20 left in the first half. Jackson State was only 3-of-17 from the field at that point.
Huggins started substituting once the Bearcats got off to the fast start. Forward Armein Kirkland, who led the team in scoring for four of the previous five games, sat on the bench with sore ankle and didn’t get into the game.
Jackson State’s starting freshman guards, Charlie White and Trai Givens, didn’t score a basket or have an assist between them during the opening 16 minutes. Cincinnati led 48-18 at halftime.