UC NOTEBOOK
Mitchell's defense key

BY MIKE DeCOURCY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Alvin Mitchell keeps making big shots and winning big games for the Cincinnati Bearcats and wonders when it will lead to big minutes.

Mitchell scored a combined 14 points in the final five minutes of UC's narrow wins against Duke and Minnesota. Going into Saturday night's game against UNLV, he was hitting .444 from three-point range (12-of-27), which would be the second-best figure in UC history if it were to hold through the end of the season. Hel was averaging 7.6 points and 2.3 assists and had committed just nine turnovers.

But coach Bob Huggins was playing Mitchell just 16.5 minutes per game as a reserve at both guard positions.

Mitchell got even less time against UNLV - nine minutes. He missed both of his shots — one a three — and committed a turnover.

“I know in order to be out there more on the court I've got to improve my defense,” Mitchell said. “Huggs loves defense. I know I've got to step it up.”

Mitchell is the least physically strong of the Bearcats, although he has improved in that regard since arriving at UC. Mentally, he has proven to be one of the toughest of Huggins' players.

“I don't know what it is,” Mitchell said, asked to explain his hot shooting under pressure. “But I don't want it to stop now.”

Great Tate
Jermaine Tate's 14 rebounds against Minnesota turned out to be a career high, even though he played just 26 minutes and regularly played 30-plus minutes in his first two seasons at Ohio State. Tate had 13 against the Gophers as a freshman.

His athleticism and aggression were valuable additions to the Bearcats' rotation. He scored twice against the Gophers on tip-dunks that were about as devastating as anything teammate Kenyon Martin has authored.

UC is having a tough time figuring what to do with Tate on offense, though. His post game is so rusty he can barely find the goal when he catches the ball inside.

Part of the problem is technical, but his uncertainty about what to do with the ball is also a factor. “I think I was a little hesitant to shoot the ball,” Tate said. “A couple of times I got the ball under the rim and didn't shoot it. I'm still not confident yet.”

Viva Las Vegas
UC's game late Saturday night against UNLV was the first meeting between the two schools, kind of a surprise since former Rebels coach Jerry Tarkanian and Huggins are friendly.

Tarkanian has been telling acquaintances this season that no coach is doing a better job than Huggins.

UC 86, UNLV 73
24-11: The day the UC-UK rivalry stalled
UC gears up for C-USA
All 1998 basketball stories