LAS VEGAS (AP)—Jason Maxiell was simply dominant for Cincinnati.
Maxiell had 30 points and eight rebounds, and Eric Hicks added 17 points Thursday night in leading the No. 22 Bearcats to a 95-69 victory over Longwood in the Las Vegas Holiday Classic.
Maxiell scored 11 of his team’s first 18 points while controlling the inside.
“I wasn’t paying attention to my numbers,” said Maxiell, who added seven blocks. “I was paying attention to the game and doing what was right.”
Cincinnati (11-0) led by just four with 13 minutes to play, but went on a 14-2 run over the next five minutes to pull away.
Maxiell sparked the rally, grabbing an offensive rebound and finishing with a dunk as the Bearcats peaked late in their tuneup for Friday’s tournament finale against top-ranked Illinois.
The Illini beat Northwestern State 69-51 earlier Thursday.
Michael Jefferson scored 27 points, including 20 in the first half, for the Lancers (1-15).
Cincinnati closed with a 23-11 run, giving the Bearcats their fifth straight win by 20 points or more.
The Bearcats controlled the inside game, grabbing 11 offensive rebounds and out-rebounding Longwood 46-29.
Jihad Muhammad had 15 for the Bearcats, and James White added 10.
Jefferson’s 3-pointer with 1:41 left in the first half cut Longwood’s deficit to 47-40. The Lancers shot 61 percent from the field in the opening 10 minutes as they hung close early.
“We weren’t worried about the lead being cut down because of our style we play,” Maxiell said. “In the second half, we took care of business.”
Still, Cincinnati knows it needs to play better against Illinois.
“Illinois is really good,” Bearcats coach Bob Huggins said. “There are two things about them: No. 1, they are unselfish, and No. 2, they understand how to play.”
Illinois cruised past the Bearcats 92-68 in the second round of last year’s NCAA Tournament.
“It’s big test for us,” Huggins said. “Last year is behind us, and well be better prepared this time around.”
Longwood, in the second year of the reclassification process to become a full-fledged Division I school, trailed by single-digits until the final nine minutes.
“These games are invaluable for us,” Longwood coach Mike Gillian said. “We are earning respect and credibility. When you have opportunities against Cincinnati and you are in the game, that is invaluable.”