Cincinnati 88, Vanderbilt 72
CINCINNATI (AP)—Jason Maxiell had 18 points and 12 rebounds Thursday night, anchoring a balanced attack that carried Cincinnati to an 88-72 victory over sloppy Vanderbilt.
The Bearcats (5-0) pulled out of a sluggish start by forcing turnovers that got the offense rolling. They had 14 steals overall and scored 33 points off turnovers.
Vanderbilt (4-4) has four double-digit losses in its last five games, a stunning start for a school returning three starters from a team that reached the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament.
The Commodores’ downfall has been their ball handling—at least 20 turnovers in half of their eight games. They had a season-high 23 on Thursday.
The Bearcats went from an early 10-point deficit to a 15-point halftime lead by forcing 13 turnovers and taking advantage.
Armein Kirkland led five Cincinnati players in double figures with 19 points. Point guard Mario Moore led Vanderbilt with 17 points, and Dawid Przybyszewski—a 7-foot-2 center—scored 13 by going 4-of-7 from behind the 3-point arc.
Vanderbilt opened with a 17-7 spurt that had Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins stamping his foot on the floor in anger. The Bearcats stood around when they got the ball, made a few passes and let it fly, missing eight of their first 12 shots.
Berated during a timeout, the Bearcats jump-started the offense by putting some energy into their man-to-man defense. They blocked two shots and forced a pair of turnovers that fueled an 11-point run and set the tone.
Cincinnati closed the half with a 19-5 spurt that featured three consecutive 3-pointers and a couple of slick plays by the point guards. Jihad Muhammad and Chadd Moore each had a steal and layup during the run, which put Cincinnati ahead 46-31 at halftime.
Forwards Eric Hicks and James White had steals and showy dunks—Hicks did a reverse, White a windmill—as Cincinnati pushed the lead to 19 early in the second half.
Vanderbilt started drawing fouls and hitting the free throws—five straight in one stretch that cut it to 68-59. Kirkland hit a 3 and Maxiell had a putback that ended the comeback.
Maxiell had the signature play in the second half. With Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson urging him on from courtside, the 6-foot-8 forward drove and dunked over 6-foot-9 Julian Terrell, who hit the floor hard as the ball rattled around and went down.