Thursday, February 18, 1999

UC 82, UNC CHARLOTTE 69


Mickeal, Logan key emotional win

BY MIKE DeCOURCY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[huggins]
UC coach Bob Huggins is restrained by assistant Mick Cronin as he receives a technical in the first half.
(Craig Ruttle photo)

| ZOOM |
        This wasn't about Diego Guevara or avenging defeat or trying to gain the best possible seed in the NCAA Tournament. It wasn't even about avoiding disaster in the Conference USA race. This was about the Cincinnati Bearcats needing to win.

        It had been two weeks. Long enough.

        “We were worried about ourselves,” said UC center Kenyon Martin. “We lost three straight, and we were worrying about getting better. That was our main concern.”

        The No.9 Bearcats (22-4, 9-4) broke their losing streak Wednesday night with an 82-69 victory over UNC Charlotte (15-10) at the Shoemaker Center, avoided being swept for the first time as a member of C-USA and set up a first- place showdown with Louisville (15-7, 9-3) Sunday afternoon.

[huggins]
Jermaine Tate.
(Craig Ruttle photo)

| ZOOM |
        In extending their homecourt winning streak to 31 games, the Bearcats got 23 points and a career-high 15 rebounds from junior forward Pete Mickeal, who missed only four of his 12 shots and also had three assists. They were fortunate to have Martin on the floor for 29 minutes, and he scored 11 points though he came up empty in blocks.

        They went on a 13-0 run to jet from a one-point lead to complete command of the game inside the final 10 minutes, with point guard Steve Logan scoring seven of his 18 points in that stretch.

        Most important, UC played with the style, emotion and aggression lacking in road losses at DePaul, Marquette and Saint Louis, that wasn't even truly evident when the Bearcats last won, on Feb. 3 over Tulane.

        “We came out and played hard,” said senior guard Melvin Levett, who scored 12 points despite playing through an illness. “After a long time, we finally came out and played like the Bearcats of old.”

logan
Steve Logan and UNCC's Diego Guevara chase a loose ball.
(AP photo)

| ZOOM |
        That was true in a more literal sense than Levett intended. UC's defensive style was far more similar to what they played in the 1997-98 season. Especially in the first half, there were fewer traps designed to generate steals and greater concentration on forcing the 49ers to shoot over the defense. They hit 7-of-31 inside the three-point line. Guevara, the hero in UNCC's 62-60 win over the Bearcats last month, was held to 3-of-12 shooting.

        And Huggins looked more like his old self, as well. He did not wait to unleash his fury on the officiating crew, picking up a technical foul with 15:28 in the first half that gave the 49ers their only lead of the game but also inspired the Bearcats toward an immediate 11-0 run.

        “I get all this stuff about calming down, being more mature,” Huggins said. “It's hard.”

[tate]
Tate falls under UNCC's Galen Young.
(Craig Ruttle photo)

| ZOOM |
        This wasn't pretty, not with Guevera spilling blood on the floor and then being struck by a quarter as he left to have his cut examined, not with 48 fouls called and 62 free throws attempted, though both teams topped 80 percent from the line, including UC's season-best .839 (26-of-31).

        UC senior point guard Michael Horton sat the entire game. Huggins at first said it was because talk show guys were calling for his benching. “They ought to be off our butts now. I'm doing exactly what they want.” He then explained it was because all the Bearcats had been threatened that substandard effort in practice would prevent them from seeing game time.

        That was part of the problem for forward Ryan Fletcher, although more so it was because he was late to the game. He got in for two minutes at the end of the half, made a defensive error and then sat for the rest of the night.

        “If Coach Huggs said you ain't going to play, you ain't going to play,” Levett said. “Mike's just got to stay with us. He's got to come back to practice Friday and be ready.”

[mickeal]
Pete Mickeal defends Marlon Thomas.
(Craig Ruttle photo)

| ZOOM |
        Huggins was displeased with Logan's four turnovers and junior Alvin Mitchell's 0-for-4 shooting, but the UC offense had more productivity (their fifth 80-point game against a C-USA opponent), more efficiency (.472 shooting) and more spark (there were actual signs of a fastbreak).

        “I still think they're one of the best teams in the country,” said UNCC coach Bobby Lutz, “but I don't think we're as bad as we were in the first half.”

        The Bearcats led by as many as 17 points in the first half and were up 34-21 at the break before surrendering much of the confidence they used to gain control. They subsequently found themselves ahead by a point with 9:02 left.

        The 49ers made seven consecutive free throws and followed that with three-pointers by Jobey Thomas and Tremaine Gardiner to trail 55-54, but the Bearcats held them scoreless for the next 4:17 to build an insurmountable lead.

        “They were a lot more focused,” said UNCC senior Galen Young, who led the 49ers with 17 points but was held to 3-of-10 shooting by Mickeal. “We dug a hole in the first half — if we'd played a little better, we might have had a different outcome, but they played hard.”

UC NOTEBOOK


NC CHARLOTTE (69)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Young           29  3-10 10-11   2-3  0  5   17
Gardiner        34   5-8   2-2   1-3  1  4   15
Price           34   1-8   3-5   2-6  0  4    5
M Thomas        22   0-3   2-2   1-4  1  3    2
Guevara         31  3-12   6-7   1-4  4  3   14
J Thomas        29  4-10   2-2   2-2  0  2   14
Smith            9   0-2   0-0   0-0  1  1    0
Whitehead Jr.    7   1-1   0-2   0-2  0  2    2
Neely            5   0-0   0-0   0-2  0  1    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 17-54 25-31  9-26  7 25   69
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.315, FT-.806. 3-Point Goals:
10-23, .435 (Young 1-2, Gardiner 3-4, M Thomas
0-1, Guevara 2-7, J Thomas 4-8, Smith 0-1). Team
rebounds: 1. Blocked shots: 1 (Price). Turnovers:
14 (Guevara 4, M Thomas 4, Young 4, Price,
Smith). Steals: 7 (Price 3, Young 2, J Thomas,
Smith).


CINCINNATI (82)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Tate            29   2-6   2-2   4-7  2  3    6
Mickeal         37  8-12   7-8  3-15  3  3   23
Martin          30   4-6   3-4   0-4  3  3   11
Levett          32  4-11   1-2   1-3  1  1   12
Logan           28   4-7   8-9   1-2  3  3   18
Myrick          12   1-2   4-4   1-1  2  2    7
Mcghee          11   2-4   0-0   2-2  0  2    4
Mitchell        10   0-4   0-0   1-2  1  3    0
Land             9   0-1   0-0   0-1  0  1    0
Fletcher         2   0-0   1-2   0-1  0  0    1
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 25-53 26-31 13-38 15 21   82
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.472, FT-.839. 3-Point Goals:
6-15, .400 (Mickeal 0-1, Levett 3-7, Logan 2-4,
Myrick 1-1, Mitchell 0-2). Team rebounds: 4.
Blocked shots: None. Turnovers: 17 (Logan 4,
Mcghee 3, Mickeal 3, Martin 2, Land, Levett,
Mitchell, Myrick, Tate). Steals: 5 (Logan 2,
Mickeal 2, Mitchell).
__________________________________
Nc Charlotte       21   48  -   69
Cincinnati         34   48  -   82
__________________________________
Technical fouls: Nc Charlotte 1 (Bench). 
Cincinnati 1 (Bench).  A: 13,176. Officials:
Larry Lembo, Frank Bosone, Gerry Pollard.

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