UC 91, SW LOUISIANA 65
Bearcats get Cajun vote

Sunday, December 13, 1998

BY MIKE DECOURCY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[levett]
Melvin Levett drives past Blane Harmon.
(Aimee Obidzinski photo)

| ZOOM |
If the Cincinnati Bearcats got the same opportunity to impress all the wire-service poll voters they had with Southwestern Louisiana coach Jesse Evans Saturday night, perhaps they would not find themselves looking up at No. 3 Duke.

Evans, a member of the panel of coaches that votes on the ESPN - USA Today Top 25, is one of the few who put some stock into UC's earlier victory against Duke and placed the Bearcats ahead on his ballot. He left the Shoemaker Center convinced he underrated them after UC's 91-65 victory against the Ragin' Cajuns.

"I'm going to have to put them a little higher after seeing them first-hand," Evans said. "I haven't had the opportunity to play Maryland or Connecticut, but if they're better than Cincinnati, playing with any more confidence or enthusiasm, I don't want to see them."

He said this after a performance he considered to be uneven and that pleased the No. 4 Bearcats (6-0) less. Imagine if they'd put together two solid halves of basketball.

"We'd probably score 180 points," said senior guard Melvin Levett.

He led UC with 22 points and 4-of-6 three-point shooting, and junior forward Pete Mickeal added 16 points and seven rebounds. They and their teammates shot 50 percent from the floor and held the Cajuns (3-3) to 29.5 percent, a season low for Bearcats opponents.

[logan]
Steve Logan pressures Brett Smith.
(AP photo)

| ZOOM |
Concern that disruptions of UC's practice week due to final exams might harm the effort against the Cajuns were quickly dismissed by Mickeal. He blocked a baseline drive by USL's David Patrick, then made an amazing effort to save the ball before it dropped over the baseline less than two minutes into the game.

Clearly, the Bearcats were focused.

For a time, anyway.

The Bearcats broke to a 7-0 lead, went through a brief malaise, then were jolted by the entrance of junior guard Alvin Mitchell. He came off the bench to nail a short jumper, then drop a brilliant, no-look bounce pass across the lane to Levett for a dunk.

That began a string of three of UC's most picturesque passes, as well as an 18-9 surge that extended the lead to 26-13. Donald Little dunked the second of those, which was delivered by Levett. Levett then slammed again after Little's block was recovered just before it cross the sideline and forwarded it in one motion to Levett as he approached the midcourt line unaccompanied by a defender.

"I'm sure they were glad to get their finals behind them and play some basketball," Evans said, "instead of doing all that cerebral stuff."

UC pressed as hard as in any game this season, forcing 11 turnovers before the break and grabbing a 55-32 lead.

[land]
Eugene Land shoots over Joseph Lee.
(Aimee Obidzinski photo)

| ZOOM |
As much as the Bearcats enjoyed the first 20 minutes, though, the rest of the game was brutal. As the officials called 56 fouls and sent the teams to the line for 79 free throws, UC made just 3-of-11 from the field, 1-of-5 foul shots and scored just eight points in the first 10 minutes. Their lead dwindled to 64-53 with 7:12 left. They scored one field goal from 18:52 to 5:34, getting eight points on free throws to keep the lead in double digits. The only basket in that stretch was a hook shot Eugene Land rolled in from the right side of the lane at the 12:09 mark.

Huggins said the problem was getting "too quick" and not settling into the offensive system.

"The first couple times downcourt, we ran good offense," Levett said. "After that - a couple of forced shots by myself, and Fletch missed a layup, we got our heads out of it. We were out there, but we weren't really playing."

Huggins inserted UC's original starting lineup of Mickeal, Levett, Ryan Fletcher, Kenyon Martin and Steve Logan and sent them all onto the court fresh from a stern lecture at the 7:54 television timeout.

Mickeal put a stop to the nonsense by scoring off a lob from Levett. UC followed his bucket with scores on six consecutive possessions. They scored six more points in the remainder of the game than in the first 14:26.

"We're not a veteran team like some of the Dukes and Stanfords," Mickeal said. "Basically, we're a lot of new guys, and we're still getting to know each other. But that's no excuse for not going out there and putting two halves together."

Notebook: Little refocused
Basketball story list


SW LOUISIANA (65)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Poole           37  5-13   6-6  4-11  1  4   17
Funderburk      17   1-3   0-0   0-1  0  1    2
Smith           12   0-2   0-0   0-2  0  4    0
Patrick         17   0-3  7-10   0-0  0  4    7
Harmon          30  1-10   0-1   1-2  0  1    2
Thomas          10   1-1   0-2   1-2  0  1    2
Jones           23  5-12   2-3   1-1  0  3   13
Whiting         12   1-6   4-4   2-2  0  2    6
Evans            8   1-3   2-2   2-2  0  2    5
Lee             14   1-2   2-3   1-2  2  3    4
Regis            2   0-1   0-2   0-1  0  0    0
Butler           3   0-0   1-4   2-2  0  2    1
Warren           4   1-1   0-0   1-3  0  1    2
Scott            3   1-1   0-0   0-0  0  0    3
Robins           8   0-3   1-4   1-1  0  0    1
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 18-61 25-41 16-32  3 28   65
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.295, FT-.610. 3-Point Goals:
4-18, .222 (Poole 1-6, Harmon 0-4, Jones 1-3,
Whiting 0-1, Evans 1-2, Lee 0-1, Scott 1-1). Team
rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: None. Turnovers: 19
(Jones 6, Harmon 3, Poole 3, Patrick 2, Smith 2,
Evans, Whiting). Steals: 4 (Harmon, Jones, Lee,
Poole).


CINCINNATI (91)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Fletcher        19   1-4   2-6   1-4  1  4    4
Mickeal         34   5-6   6-9   1-7  2  3   16
Martin          21   3-6   2-2   2-5  0  5    8
Levett          25  7-15   4-4   2-2  2  2   22
Logan           20   2-5   4-4   1-2  3  3    9
Horton           9   0-2   0-0   0-1  2  0    0
Mitchell        21   2-4   3-5   2-2  4  1    7
Myrick           8   0-2   0-0   0-1  0  1    0
Little          16   4-6   3-3   2-5  0  2   11
Mcghee           7   2-4   0-2   1-3  0  4    4
Land            17   4-5   2-3   0-4  1  4   10
Meacham          3   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 30-60 26-38 12-36 15 29   91
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.500, FT-.684. 3-Point Goals:
5-14, .357 (Levett 4-6, Logan 1-3, Mitchell 0-2,
Myrick 0-2, Meacham 0-1). Team rebounds: 8.
Blocked shots: 5 (Little 2, Mcghee, Mickeal,
Levett). Turnovers: 18 (Fletcher 4, Martin 4,
Mickeal 3, Mitchell 2, Land, Levett, Little,
Logan, Mcghee). Steals: 7 (Mitchell 2, Horton,
Land, Mcghee, Mickeal, Myrick).
__________________________________
Sw Louisiana       32   33  -   65
Cincinnati         55   36  -   91
__________________________________
Technical fouls: None.  A: 12,185. Officials:
Charles Range, Larry Ware, Mike Jag.