VALPARAISO, Ind. (AP)—Even with Robert Whaley out and Tony Bobbitt hobbled, 19th-ranked Cincinnati had little trouble with Valparaiso.
Jason Maxiell had 20 points on 12-of-20 shooting from the free-throw line and added 11 rebounds, seven on the offensive end, to help the Bearcats beat Valparaiso 68-49 on Tuesday night.
The stat that pleased Maxiell the most was the fact the Bearcats, after being outrebounded by Coppin State in their last game, had a 42-26 rebounding advantage.
The Bearcats (4-0) already have to do some wind sprints on their day off Wednesday because of the Coppin State game and didn’t want to add to it against Valparaiso.
“It motivates us a lot because the consequences of not rebounding are motivation enough. If we don’t rebound, there’s a lot of running going on,” he said.
Maxiell had seven offensive rebounds and Kareem Johnson added 10 rebounds for the Bearcats.
Valparaiso coach Homer Drew said the Crusaders were better in the second half. After Cincinnati had 13 offensive rebounds in the first half, it was held to four in the second half.
“We competed. We got better in the second half,” he said. “I thought we did a much better job of screening out and getting to the ball on the rebounds.”
Both teams played sloppily. Cincinnati turned the ball over 19 times while Valparaiso had 20 turnovers.
Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins said he wasn’t concerned about the turnovers.
“When the game is hard it creates more turnovers and that’s just kind of what happens. We’d kind of liked to do better, but I think they (Valparaiso) played well,” he said.
The Bearcats also had an advantage in free-throw shooting, going 20-for-31 overall in their lone road game before beginning Conference USA play next month. Valparaiso (1-3), which hosted a ranked team for the first time in six years, was 12-of-18.
Bobbitt had 15 points in the first half for Cincinnati, but didn’t score in the second half as he was slowed by a cramp in his right calf. Field Williams had 14 points for the Bearcats and Nick Williams had 10. Joaquim Gomes led Valparaiso with 10 points.
Cincinnati was simply too big and too fast for the Crusaders even without center Robert Whaley, who is scheduled to have surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee on Wednesday.
The Bearcats started slow as the Crusaders jumped to a quick 5-2 lead, making 2-of-5 shots. But Field Williams got Cincinnati going with a pair of inside baskets, igniting a 20-4 run and Valparaiso, which trained 37-24 at halftime, never seriously threatened.
Drew said he was impressed by the Bearcats.
“I think they’re going to be better than 19th in the nation when they get Whaley healthy,” Homer said. “They pass the ball, the defend, they’re deep. I think they are going to be a very good basketball team as the season goes on.”