Sunday, January 24, 1999

UC 55, SAINT LOUIS 44


Bearcats start well, then lose interest

BY MIKE DeCOURCY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[tate]
Jermaine Tate battles Saint Louis' Ryan Luechtefeld for rebounding position on a foul shot.
(Jeff Swinger photo)

| ZOOM |
        There was a moment when this game was exciting, when it was full of possibility, when the Shoemaker Center crowd had reason to expect something spectacular from the UC Bearcats. Then, Melvin Levett fell to the floor.

        “I just bought a new pair of shoes, and those things gave out on me,” Levett said. “I've got to take them back to the store.”

        Levett's potential breakaway jam in the final minute turned instead into a traveling violation, which was a much more fitting punctuation to No.5 UC's 55-44 victory over pugnacious Saint Louis in a Conference USA game Saturday.

        A capacity crowd of UC fans waited two hours for something to thrill them, but they came to the wrong game for that. With coach Charlie Spoonhour on the bench opposite Bob Huggins, an attractive game was going to happen only by accident.

        “I tried to explain to them coming in that if we didn't jump on them,” Huggins said, “it was going to be like that.”

[mickeal]
Pete Mickeal tries to shoot over Chris Heinrich.
(Jeff Swinger photo)

| ZOOM |
        The things the Bearcats (18-1, 6-1) do well, the Billikens (9-10, 4-3) would not permit them to do. Forward Pete Mickeal scored twice on three-point plays, but was otherwise ineffective. Levett started 4-of-7 from the field, but finished 1-of-7. He led UC with 20 points thanks to 7-of-8 free throw shooting.

        UC went through two stretches of five or more minutes without a basket, one in each half. All but five of its points were scored by four players: Levett, Mickeal, Kenyon Martin and Ryan Fletcher, with all but Levett finishing with 10.

        With the Bearcats forced to play this game in between their crucial (and successful) trip to Louisville and Thursday's Skyline Chili Crosstown Shootout with Xavier, it was not out of the question for the Bearcats to be focused elsewhere.

        However, they did not allow a basket for the first 3:14. Saint Louis went through six possessions and only attempted four shots. The Billikens made just 1-of-8 from the field in falling behind, 11-2.

[logan]
Steve Logan pushed the ball upcourt.
(Jeff Swinger photo)

| ZOOM |
        “You know how we are,” Huggins said. “If it's 7-0 with 19 minutes to go in the game, it's kind of over. We think they're going to forfeit. We just don't sustain things. If there's one thing we just haven't been able to get through, it's to keep playing.”

        UC did not apply the same intensity to attacking the goal as defending it. With Billikens clogging the lane and prevent ing Mickeal and Levett from driving and denying passes to the post, the Bearcats settled for jumpshots they struggled to make.

        “When teams do that to us, spread it out, we should run backdoor,” Mickeal said, “but we didn't do it this game. ”

        The Bearcats' offensive struggles escalated as the first half progressed. They were as sloppy as they had been at Louisville, where they committed a season-high 20 turnovers, but an uncommon number of those had been offensive fouls. This time, they were simply throwing it away.

[martin]
Kenyon Martin shoots while his jersey is grabbed by Heinrich.
(AP photo)

| ZOOM |
        Spoonhour made an important decision to extend his defense and pressure UC. Instead of cutting through the press for easy baskets, the Bearcats advanced slowly — when they advanced at all.

        After a Martin turnaround jumper with 8:17 left, they did not manage another field goal until Fletcher banked in a follow five minutes later.

        Saint Louis had inched to a one-point deficit by then, outscoring UC 7-3 in that stretch. It took a stern defensive stand by the Bearcats, who allowed only two points over the final 4:38, to stretch the margin beyond a single possession at the break, to 27-21.

        “We knew we were in the game,” said Saint Louis forward Ryan Luechtefeld.

        “But then I threw the ball away at least twice with nobody even guarding me, and we had other guys do the same thing. When you don't get shots, you're not going to be able to do anything.”

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ST LOUIS (44)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Cobbin          28  4-10   0-0   0-1  2  2   10
Luechtefeld     32   1-7   0-0   1-5  0  5    2
Heinrich        14   2-2   0-0   3-5  0  3    4
Love            20   2-9   0-0   0-1  0  4    4
Fergerson       18   3-5   3-3   0-3  0  2   11
Robertson       21   1-1   0-0   0-1  1  2    3
Walker          27   1-4   1-3   0-3  1  1    3
Baniak           8   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  2    0
Tatum           23   2-6   3-4   0-7  0  1    7
Redden           5   0-0   0-0   1-2  0  1    0
Simmons          4   0-0   0-0   0-1  1  0    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 16-44  7-10  5-29  5 23   44
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.364, FT-.700. 3-Point Goals:
5-15, .333 (Cobbin 2-4, Luechtefeld 0-2, Love
0-3, Fergerson 2-3, Robertson 1-1, Walker 0-1,
Tatum 0-1). Team rebounds: 1. Blocked shots: 3
(Tatum 3). Turnovers: 23 (Fergerson 6,
Luechtefeld 3, Redden 3, Heinrich 2, Robertson 2,
Tatum 2, Walker 2, Cobbin, Love, Simmons).
Steals: 3 (Walker 2, Cobbin).


CINCINNATI (55)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Tate            17   0-1   0-0   0-4  0  0    0
Mickeal         32   2-7  6-10   1-4  1  3   10
Martin          28   4-7   2-5   3-6  2  3   10
Levett          35  5-14   7-8   0-4  2  2   20
Logan           27   0-6   0-0   0-1  3  3    0
Fletcher        27   5-7   0-2  4-11  0  0   10
Horton           6   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  1    0
Mitchell        10   0-2   2-2   0-0  0  1    2
Land             6   0-0   0-0   0-1  0  1    0
Mcghee           2   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Myrick          10   1-4   0-0   0-1  2  2    3
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 17-48 17-27  8-32 10 16   55
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.354, FT-.630. 3-Point Goals:
4-15, .267 (Levett 3-7, Logan 0-3, Mitchell 0-2,
Myrick 1-3). Team rebounds: 4. Blocked shots: 4
(Tate 2, Martin, Levett). Turnovers: 18 (Logan 5,
Levett 4, Fletcher 3, Martin 2, Horton, Mitchell,
Tate). Steals: 12 (Tate 3, Levett 2, Martin 2,
Mickeal 2, Myrick 2, Logan).
__________________________________
St Louis           21   23  -   44
Cincinnati         27   28  -   55
__________________________________
Technical fouls: None.  A: 13,176. Officials: Tom
Harrington, Gerald Boudreaux, David Dodge.

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