Cincinnati—It's been quite a roller coaster ride of late for the Cincinnati Bearcats. However, Wednesday evening against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles, it was Cincinnati doing the soaring high above the coaster's summit.
The Bearcats surmounted a 6-point halftime lead and within seven minutes into the second half, was holding a commanding 61-37 advantage with a 23-5 run to begin the half.
Much of the early second-half damage was done by Cincinnati's frontcourt, Jason Maxiell especially who scored 10 of his game-high 20 points in the second half spurt.
Southern Miss (10-14, 1-11 C-USA) actually started the game off playing well, jumping to a 17-13 advantage, much of which came on the hot shooting hand of Mildon Ambres who scored eight of his team's first 12 points.
The Bearcats' frontcourt was too much to handle, however.
Led by Maxiell and Eric Hicks, who scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, Cincinnati rallied with an 8-0 run, taking a 21-17 lead that would never be lost.
Cincinnati took to the locker room a six-point lead, before flexing their muscle in the second half on the glass and in the paint.
"In the second half I thought we passed the ball and shared the ball," Bearcat head coach Bob Huggins said after the game.
Southern Miss stayed competitive at times because of JUCO guard, Rashaad Carruth. The former Kentucky signee scored a team-high 16 points in the loss.
David Haywood added 13 for the Golden Eagles, while Ambres finished with 10.
"The game wasn't much but we are who we are," USM head coach, Larry Eustachy said afterwards. "I'm real impressed with Cincinnati. They keep coming at you with their heart and their athleticism."
Cincinnati finished the game out-rebounding Southern Miss by a 44-19 margin, something Eustachy believes was in part, a statement of how much tougher his team needs to be.
"We don't have a competitive makeup, nor will some of these guys ever," Eustachy added. "This program was a wreck, fourth losing season in a row and I'm sifting through it. But we will have a team like the one that just beat us."
Cincinnati remains home at the Fifth Third Arena on Saturday for a big showdown against UAB. The game begins at 4:00 PM. It is a sellout, but will be nationally televised on ESPN.