Sunday, January 17, 1999


Bearcats take out loss on Sooners

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Kenyon Martin blocks a shot by Oklahoma's Eduardo Najera.
(Gary Landers photo)

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        Point guard Steve Logan had his orders, delivered with a threat: Get the ball inside, or sit on the side and watch. And just in case he was in danger of forgetting this Saturday afternoon, there were plenty of guys eagerly reminding him.

        Pete Mickeal, Kenyon Martin, Ryan Fletcher all said the same thing. “Every time I got it,” Logan said, “they were screaming, "Give it to me.' It made me feel like they wanted the ball, wanted to score and be productive.”

        This was how it was for most of the Cincinnati Bearcats in their 72-59 victory against Oklahoma at the Shoemaker Center.

        Less than 48 hours after their first loss, at UNC Charlotte, they had a hunger about them, a desperation missing as they fattened their unbeaten record before UNCC.

        Fletcher scored 13 points, passed for three assists and did not turn over the ball. Martin scored 12 points, had four assists, blocked three shots and picked up seven steals. Mickeal led the No. 3 Bearcats (16-1) with 17 points and 10 rebounds, his most points in seven games and his first double-figure rebound performance since November.

Bob Huggins argues with an official after Martin was called for a foul.
(Gary Landers photo)

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        “We played with a lot more enthusiasm,” Huggins said. “For whatever reason, we'd fallen into a rut. We wanted to play uptempo, get more shots in transition, didn't want to end up in a halfcourt game.”

        It was the best combined effort delivered by the regular front line since UC won at UNLV Dec. 19.

        The frontcourt for the Sooners (13-4) finished 10-of-29 from the field.

        “Martin swatting your shots away is going to effect lots of guys,” said Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson.

        Huggins replaced injured starter Michael Horton in the lineup with senior Shawn Myrick, despite the 20-point effort by freshman Steve Logan in UC's loss at UNC Charlotte. He also sat Fletcher and started Jermaine Tate in his place.

        Logan and Fletcher were in the game before three minutes passed. The Bearcats fell behind 6-0, and Huggins was not going to watch idly as they blundered into the same deep hole as in Charlotte.

Steve Logan presures Michael Johnson.
(Gary Landers photo)

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        Logan scored 12 points and passed for five assists in 31 minutes. Fletcher's play off the bench gave Huggins reason to consider whether he would be more comfortable opening every game as a reserve.

        The Bearcats made several adjustments to their defensive pressure, first shifting to a 2-2-1 fullcourt zone, mixing in some of their man-to-man denial and replacing Martin at the front of their 1-2-2 with forward Mickeal.

        Huggins also used more of the halfcourt traps, despite wondering earlier in the week whether the Bearcats were ready to handle them. The traps worked well, except for a stretch in the second half when the Bearcats failed to pick up guard Tim Heskett four times in six trips and he scored 12 of his team-high 16 points.

        “I think maybe to a large degree, you get what you emphasize,” Huggins said. “We'd been struggling so much in halfcourt offense that we emphasized it, and we probably didn't emphasize transition as much.”

Pete Mikeal defends against Eric Martin.
(Gary Landers photo)

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        The Bearcats continued to advance the ball toward the baseline despite the presence of 6-8 Oklahoma sophomore Ryan Humphrey, one of the nation's most athletic power forwards, who blocked five shots in the first 22 minutes.

        “The way we played on Thursday, that wasn't us,” Martin said. “When we were in the press, we weren't on the ball, weren't getting after it.”

        UC's pressure defense lured Oklahoma into shooting threes in transition rather than as a result of its halfcourt offense, and thus the Sooners made just 6-of-18.

        Perhaps the best illustration of UC's refreshed approach to offense came with 5:13 left in the first half, when Alvin Mitchell rushed the ball down the left sideline after accepting an outlet pass from Martin, then nailed a three-pointer after a quick look to assess that Bearcats were in place to collect a rebound.

        That was the last basket in a 14-3 UC surge that made it a 32-20 lead. The Bearcats extended their advantage to 46-31 points on two quick second-half baskets by Logan, and Oklahoma never was closer than seven in the second half.

        “It's just a case of going out and playing basketball the way we can play,” Mickeal said. “This is a new chapter to our season. I think we played about 40 minutes this game. Our effort was a little better.”


Bearcats Stories
- UC 72, OKLAHOMA 59
Notebook: TV repeat can't surprise Sooners
Huggins has team where he likes it Paul Daugherty column

                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Najera          36  4-15   3-6  6-12  3  3   11
Humphrey        28  3-10   1-2   2-5  0  4    7
Stone           28   3-4   1-2   1-3  0  3    7
Johnson         36   2-6   0-2   1-2  4  4    6
Spaulding       24   3-4   0-1   1-3  1  1    6
Martin          23   2-7   2-2   0-2  2  3    6
Heskett         19   5-7   2-3   1-1  1  2   16
Avila            6   0-0   0-2   0-0  0  0    0
TOTALS         200 22-53  9-20 12-28 11 20   59

Percentages: FG-.415, FT-.450. 3-Point Goals:
6-18, .333 (Najera 0-4, Johnson 2-5, Spaulding
0-1, Martin 0-2, Heskett 4-6). Team rebounds: 4.
Blocked shots: 5 (Humphrey 5). Turnovers: 14
(Johnson 5, Humphrey 3, Najera 3, Stone 2,
Heskett). Steals: None.

                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Tate            17   0-2   0-0   0-3  0  2    0
Mickeal         34  6-12   5-6  5-10  2  2   17
Martin          31   5-8   2-2   1-7  4  4   12
Myrick           3   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Fletcher        28   6-8   1-1   1-2  3  4   13
Logan           31  4-12   4-6   0-2  5  1   12
Mitchell        17   2-4   1-2   0-1  0  3    7
Land             2   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Mcghee           2   0-0   0-0   1-1  0  2    0
Levett          35  4-10   0-1   0-3  0  2   11
TOTALS         200 27-58 13-18  8-29 14 20   72

Percentages: FG-.466, FT-.722. 3-Point Goals:
5-13, .385 (Myrick 0-1, Logan 0-4, Mitchell 2-3,
Levett 3-5). Team rebounds: 6. Blocked shots: 8
(Tate 4, Martin 3, Mcghee). Turnovers: 6 (Mickeal
2, Levett, Logan, Martin, Tate). Steals: 8
(Martin 4, Mickeal 2, Logan, Mitchell).
Oklahoma           31   28  -   59
Cincinnati         42   30  -   72
Technical fouls: Cincinnati 1 (Mickeal).  A:
13,176. Officials: Ted Hillary, Tom Harrington,
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