"First basket biggest"

Friday, November 20, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Melvin Levett looks to pass.
(AP photo)

| ZOOM |
Melvin Levett made perhaps the most important basket of the night for the Bearcats - the first.

They missed six shots in a row before he got one to go down, and center Kenyon Martin admitted UC began the game with a touch of nerves. After that layup, though, Levett was all but shut down the rest of the night. Rhode Island double-teamed him nearly every time he caught the ball on the perimeter in the first half, which caused him to give up the ball or force drives toward the lane. He wound up 3-of-16 from the field for seven points.

UC coach Bob Huggins said he was not concerned by the number of shots Levett appeared to force.

"I thought he was OK," Huggins said. "I don't want Mel standing outside there blasting threes. As long as he goes in and penetrates like he did tonight, I don't care if he makes it or not. We'll go get it."

Land, ahoy

Freshman forward Eugene Land, a product of Roger Bacon High, played nine minutes and scored four points in his first Division I game. He did not commit a turnover but was 1-of-4 from the field.

"All I was trying to do was play hard," Land said. "It kind of scared me at first that I wasn't nervous."

"I was nervous for you," Huggins said.

Land played along with fellow freshman Steve Logan and junior transfer Alvin Mitchell in the final two minutes of the first half. Joined by veterans Levett and Martin, those newcomers keyed a 7-2 run.

At the point

The Bearcats replaced senior point guard Michael Horton in the lineup with Mitchell. Horton, bothered by a nagging foot injury, played 16 minutes, scored five points and did not commit a turnover.

"Mike's foot is killing him," Huggins said. "He wants to play so bad, and I want to play him but I don't. Those things have a tendency to linger, but I don't want to get him out of shape, either. It's a Catch-22. If he's hobbling, though, I have to get those other guys ready."

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