Put up your dukes
UC meets No. 1 after avenging Iowa St.

Saturday, November 28, 1998

BY MIKE DeCOURCY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[levett]
Melvin Levett slpas the ball away from Iowa State's Martin Rancik.
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ANCHORAGE, Aka. - This was not a chance to avenge, merely to advance. Geographically and emotionally, the Great Alaska Shootout is a long, long way from the NCAA Tournament.

No. 15 UC's 60-52 win Friday night in the Shootout semifinals did provide the Bearcats with an opportunity to play top-ranked Duke in tonight's midnight title game and did extend their record to 3-0, but it did not usurp the stinging one-point win Iowa State claimed in the second round of the 1997 NCAA Tournament.

''We're a different team now,'' said forward Ryan Fletcher, who starred for the Bearcats with 11 points, six rebounds and a stern defensive effort against Iowa State star Marcus Fizer.

''Really, we were doing this for ourselves. And then, when the game is over you think, 'Yeah, we kind of got them back.' ''

[mickeal]
Pete Mikeal battles Iowa State's Stevie Johnson under the boards.
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Fletcher was presented with one of the most difficult challenges UC will face this season - though perhaps only the second-toughest this weekend, given tonight's meeting with Duke center Elton Brand - and answered by preventing Fizer from grabbing a single offensive rebound and holding him to 3-of-10 shooting.

''He played really physical down low,'' Fizer said. ''It wasn't anything special or different, but their whole team is very talented and plays defense very well. I tried going to rebound, but unfortunately a lot of times I couldn't get to it.''

The Bearcats' offense was not efficient, but remove their dismal 2-of-17 three-point shooting and they were 21-of-39 (.538) inside the arc.

They were led by 12 points from senior guard Melvin Levett, still fighting a shooting slump. He scored six by attacking the offensive glass, explaining he decided to be more active in the lane ''as soon as we left the locker room. I felt like I woke up after being asleep for months.''

SCHEDULE
WEDNESDAY
• UC 73, So. Utah 63
• Iowa St. 74, St. Mary's 72 (OT)
THURSDAY
• Fresno St.82, Alaska Anchorage 79
• Duke 111, Notre Dame 82
FRIDAY
• UC 60, Iowa St. 52.
• Duke 93, Fresno St. 82
SATURDAY
• UC vs. Duke, Midnight
Shootout Web site
UC coach Bob Huggins made an extremely conservative decision to go through the first 10:16 of the second half without center Kenyon Martin, who had three personal fouls before the break.

The Bearcats held the lead for all but a few seconds as Martin sat, but were not able to put more than five points between themselves and the Cyclones and fell behind on a Fizer jumper, 45-44, almost as soon as Martin stepped on the floor.

After a face-up jumper by Fletcher put UC back in front, point guard Alvin Mitchell penetrated the zone and dumped to Martin for a dunk, and forward Pete Mickeal made a free throw and short jumper for the Bearcats' biggest second-half lead, 51-45 with 6:52 left.

Iowa State shortened the game by spreading its offense and dribbling away large chunks of the shot clock and playing a 2-3 zone for long stretches. That kept the Cyclones from tiring against the Bearcats' greater depth. UC's pressure defense produced some turnovers, but could not succeed in quickening the pace of the game.

UC ultimately decided to play zone itself, given Iowa State's dearth of effective perimeter shooters. Huggins said he held the zone back until the second half because he did not want the Cyclones to have time to adjust. The zone squeezed out four stops in five Cyclones possessions, and they fell behind by seven when Mitchell dashed into the lane and dumped to Martin for another dunk, which basically clinched the win.

''That's a good win for us with Kenyon not playing very many minutes,'' Huggins said. ''The zone made them a little more perimeter-oriented, and Fletch was doing a good job. There wasn't any need to have him go in there and foul out. We wanted to have him for the end of the game.''

The Bearcats began this game as weakly as they closed their first-round effort against Southern Utah. They missed their first six shots from the field, three of those by Levett, and fell behind 8-0.

For having opened so poorly, though, the Bearcats trudged to a two-point deficit by the time eight minutes passed.

''I thought our team was happy to be in this game,'' Eustachy said. ''We're looking at two contrasting teams: one that has a lot of hardness, physicality and finds ways to win, and one that doesn't.''

Notebook: You can tell Levett's down by his frown
Duke 98, Fresno State 82
Duke has look of No. 1
Shootout Web site
Basketball story list

 
IOWA ST (52)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Fizer           33  3-10  7-10  0-11  0  3   13
S Johnson       23   1-3   0-0   1-4  1  0    2
Rancik          28   4-7   6-6   2-4  0  3   14
Gregg           23   0-4   0-0   1-2  0  2    0
Nurse           32   3-7   0-1   0-1  2  1    8
Love            14   0-2   0-0   0-2  3  1    0
Hampton         20   2-5   2-2   0-0  1  3    6
Edwards         18   4-5   1-1   3-5  1  1    9
Rampton          9   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  3    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 17-43 16-20  7-29  8 17   52
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.395, FT-.800. 3-Point Goals:
2-7, .286 (Nurse 2-4, Love 0-1, Hampton 0-2).
Team rebounds: 1. Blocked shots: 1 (Fizer).
Turnovers: 14 (S Johnson 4, Love 3, Gregg 2,
Edwards, Fizer, Hampton, Nurse, Rancik). Steals:
3 (Edwards 2, Nurse).


CINCINNATI (60)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Fletcher        30  4-10   3-5   2-6  0  4   11
Mickeal         35   2-4   3-6  2-10  1  1    7
Martin          22   4-9   0-0   3-4  0  3    8
Levett          31  5-13   1-2   4-5  1  3   12
Logan           21   4-8   1-2   0-1  3  0    9
Myrick          14   0-2   0-0   0-0  1  3    0
Mitchell        20   2-5   2-2   0-1  5  2    7
Land            17   2-3   0-0   0-1  1  1    4
Mcghee           7   0-2   2-2   0-0  0  2    2
Little           3   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  1    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 23-56 12-19 11-28 12 20   60
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.411, FT-.632. 3-Point Goals:
2-17, .118 (Levett 1-7, Logan 0-4, Myrick 0-2,
Mitchell 1-4). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 1
(Martin). Turnovers: 8 (Mickeal 3, Fletcher 2,
Levett 2, Little). Steals: 7 (Levett 2, Myrick 2,
Fletcher, Mickeal, Mitchell).
__________________________________
Iowa St            28   24  -   52
Cincinnati         29   31  -   60
__________________________________
Technical fouls: None.  A: 8,700. Officials: Bill
Humes, Larry Spaulding, Eddie Jackson.