Wednesday, December 23, 1998

UC 115, HOUSTON 78


Bearcats in their own zone

BY MIKE DeCOURCY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[mickeal]
Pete Mickeal re-enters earth's atmosphere after a giant slam dunk.
(Saed Hindash photo)

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        The manner in which the Cincinnati Bearcats welcomed Clyde Drexler to Conference USA was no welcome at all. They pressed, they stole, they ran, they dunked. Oh, and they made three-point shots, as well.

        Coach Bob Huggins' No. 4 Bearcats won their 10th game without a loss, 115-78, over Houston by recording their highest point total in four seasons and their best ever as a member of Conference USA in the league opener for both teams.

        “I'm having fun,” Drexler said of his foray into coaching the Cougars, “but tonight wasn't much fun. I was looking down at Coach Huggins, and he was having a ton of fun — crossing his arms, sitting there. It looked like he could have had a soft drink and called it a night.”

[drexler]
Clyde Drexler's smile didn't last long.
(Saed Hindash photo)

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        Drexler noted the success Minnesota had in defending UC with a zone last week and examined the size differential between his Cougars (4-5) and the Bearcats and decided that might not be a bad idea.

        It wasn't, until Alvin Mitchell arrived off the bench to make his first three-point shot with 17:41 left in the first half. He made six more, finishing with 21 points to lead UC. The Bearcats hit 14-of-30 from three-point range, with freshman Steve Logan making 6-of-9 for 18 points, and they passed for 24 assists and turned the ball over just seven times.

        Mitchell was an early replacement for senior Melvin Levett, who passed up an open three-point shot against the zone and did not look to have the requisite aggression at the start of the game.

        “I thought he was just standing around,” Huggins said. “I didn't want it to get to where they thought they were in the game. I wanted to come out and get after them. Al didn't hesitate much when he got in there.”

       
[mitchell]
Alvin Mitchell, checking Houston's Treve Crosby, gets help from somebody's arm slipping in from the right.
(AP photo)

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Huggins said Mitchell was bothered by a case of pinkeye in Monday's practice and “couldn't see. He was just dreadful.” No so as the lights brightened for this game, though.

        “He's very, very competitive,” Huggins said. “I really like what he gives us.”

        The Bearcats jumped to a 19-4 lead by using a variety of pressure defenses to force seven turnovers in Houston's first 10 trips.

        In the final 5:52 of the first half, UC outscored the Cougars 26-7 and established a 62-32 lead at the break. The Bearcats' point total was their best in a first half since they opened with 65 against Cal-Northridge in 1994-95.

        “That was very demoralizing,” Drexler said. “They're a quick team. Everything they do is so explosive. Those guys really get after it when they press.”

[martin]
Kenyon Martin snatches the ball from Crosby.
(Saed Hindash photo)

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        UC's only difficulty was in defending Gervin without sending him to the line. Gervin scored 30 for Houston, shooting 13-of-17 on free throws. He felt every one of those fouls, apparently. “All of them look like Hercules out there,” he said of the Bearcats.

        Bearcats forward Pete Mickeal reached the 20-point mark for the second consecutive game, making 9-of-13 from the floor and tying freshman Eugene Land for the team lead in rebounds, with nine.

        He said it was no particular thrill to defeat Drexler, although he did look at him as a role model when growing up.

        “I just wanted to see Clyde, that's about it,” Mickeal said. And how did he look after UC put the Cougars down 30? “I saw him sitting on the bench with his head down. I really didn't hear too much from him. He didn't say too much.”

UC NOTEBOOK


HOUSTON (78)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Ballis          32   0-2   0-0   2-3  1  4    0
Younger         35  7-14   0-0   3-6  0  2   15
Stringfellow    31   4-5   1-3   1-7  0  5    9
Gervin          36  7-16 13-17   2-7  4  4   30
Hendrick        20   2-5   1-2   0-2  0  1    5
Crosby          24   2-6   5-6   0-2  1  2   10
Fernandez        2   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Malone           6   1-2   2-2   0-0  0  0    5
Moore           13   1-3   1-2   1-3  0  2    4
Austin           1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 24-53 23-32  9-30  6 20   78
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.453, FT-.719. 3-Point Goals:
7-13, .538 (Younger 1-2, Gervin 3-5, Hendrick
0-1, Crosby 1-3, Malone 1-1, Moore 1-1). Team
rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 3 (Younger,
Stringfellow, Gervin). Turnovers: 23 (Gervin 8,
Younger 3, Austin 2, Ballis 2, Moore 2,
Stringfellow 2, Fernandez, Hendrick, Malone).
Steals: 2 (Ballis, Crosby).


CINCINNATI (115)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Fletcher        16   2-5   2-3   3-4  0  2    6
Mickeal         31  9-13   2-2   5-9  0  2   20
Martin          25  5-10   2-4   1-3  4  2   12
Horton          24   3-7   0-0   4-5  9  3    6
Levett          12   2-8   1-2   1-1  1  2    6
Mitchell        18  7-11   0-0   0-0  4  3   21
Tate            15   2-5   0-0   1-1  1  2    4
Land            13   5-9   1-1   4-9  1  2   11
Logan           16  6-10   0-0   0-1  1  3   18
Mcghee           9   0-3   0-0   0-1  0  0    0
Myrick           9   2-5   4-6   2-3  2  2    8
Little           9   0-2   3-4   2-3  0  1    3
Meacham          3   0-1   0-0   0-1  1  0    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 43-89 15-22 23-41 24 24  115
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.483, FT-.682. 3-Point Goals:
14-30, .467 (Levett 1-6, Mitchell 7-11, Logan
6-9, Mcghee 0-1, Myrick 0-2, Meacham 0-1). Team
rebounds: 4. Blocked shots: 9 (Martin 5, Land 2,
Little, Mickeal). Turnovers: 7 (Martin 4,
Meacham, Mitchell, Tate). Steals: 14 (Mickeal 5,
Horton 3, Martin 2, Myrick 2, Tate 2).
__________________________________
Houston            32   46  -   78
Cincinnati         62   53  -  115
__________________________________
Technical fouls: None.  A: 13,175. Officials: Don
Rutledge, Larry Lembo, Libbey.


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