Tuesday, February 2, 1999
UC not passing boards
BY TOM GROESCHEN
The Cincinnati Enquirer
There's nothing wrong with the 20-1 Cincinnati Bearcats that a few rebounds won't cure. Or, so Bob Huggins believes.
The 20-1 team has few flaws, but Huggins said Monday that he'd like the Bearcats to be a better rebounding team. UC ranks second in Conference USA with a plus-5.4 differential per game.
Huggins, when asked what UC needs to work on before the NCAA Tournament, said, We're not going to change offenses or the way we play defense. We could rebound the ball a little more consistently.
UC on Saturday was outrebounded by Alabama-Birmingham 43-41, only the fifth time the Bearcats were outrebounded all season. But the 73-60 victory also came on tired legs, after an emotional win over rival Xavier two nights before.
Some Bearcat fans were relieved when UC suffered its one loss, to UNC Charlotte on Jan.14. With that first loss out of the way, the pressure was off.
Without question, there is some pressure that goes with that, Huggins said. But once you get to the NCAA Tournament, I don't think it matters if you've lost 16 or none. All 64 teams start even.
TULANE NEXT FOR UC: Tulane (9-9, 3-6 C-USA) is next for Cincinnati, at the Shoemaker Center on Wednesday (8:05 p.m.)
The Green Wave have lost their last two games, at Marquette and then at home to DePaul.
Going into Cincinnati off a two-game losing streak is not the way you want to draw this thing up, Tulane coach Perry Clark said Monday. Our lack of rebounding has cost us the last two games. We've got to become more physical and aggressive, especially when going up against a team like Cincinnati.
The Green Wave do not have a player among the top 20 in C-USA in scoring. The leader is 6-6 sophomore swingman Byron Mouton at 11.7 ppg.
UC has beaten Tulane in their last four meetings, dating to the 1994-95 season. The Green Wave last beat UC in the 1990-91 season, the final year of the Metro Con ference.
CARDINAL BLUES: Louisville (10-7, 5-3 C-USA) has lost four consecutive games, beginning when UC ripped the Cardinals 81-55 at Freedom Hall on Jan. 21.
What has happened? An injury to leading scorer Nate Johnson, a team shooting slump, and a lack of big bodies are among the problems.
Johnson (13 ppg) has missed the last 11/2 games with a foot infection. It is not clear when he will return.
The absences of 6-9 Tobiah Hopper (academics) and 6-8 Hajj Turner (knee injury) are also catching up with UofL.
We're down to four front-line guys, and one of those is Eric (Johnson) at 6-3, coach Denny Crum said. Johnson, from Woodward High, is the Cards' sixth man.
U of L, banned from postseason play this year because of NCAA violations, has appealed and awaits an answer.
Hopefully we'll hear something this week, Crum said. If we do win the appeal, it would be a mental lift for us.
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