Friday, February 26, 1999

UC 64, SOUTH FLORIDA 53


Logan's strong start lifts Bearcats

BY MIKE DeCOURCY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[levett]
Melvin Levett dives to save a ball from going out of bounds.
(AP photo)

| ZOOM |
        TAMPA, Fla. — Remember this night the next time a basketball coach insists it doesn't matter who starts, but rather who finishes.

        The No.9 Cincinnati Bearcats finished brutally but started beautifully, claiming a 64-53 victory Thursday over South Florida at the Sun Dome they needed to maintain their position in the Conference USA hierarchy.

        It was freshman Steve Logan who got the start at point guard over senior Michael Horton, and Logan provided the cushion that carried UC (24-4, 11-4) to the final buzzer by scoring 10 of his game-high 24 points in the first eight minutes.

        The Bulls (13-12, 6-9) pushed the Bearcats toward the end much as Louisville did earlier in the week, erasing a good bit of the lead that grew as large as 23 points in the second half but lacking the time to complete the job.

        “We started playing tentatively,” said UC center Kenyon Martin. “We were playing not to lose, and it showed.”

[fletcher]
Ryan Fletcher watches a ball bounce off USF's Shaddrick Jenkins.
(AP photo)

| ZOOM |
        South Florida closed to a 58-51 deficit with 38.5 seconds left when Bearcats guard Melvin Levett committed UC's 22nd turnover by losing his handle on the ball against a full-court press. USF freshman star B.B. Waldon turned that opportunity into a baseline jumper.

        The Bearcats scored the next four points, though, with Logan hitting the last two of six consecutive free throws and forward Pete Mickeal scoring on the break to give him 13 points. He grabbed 14 rebounds for his sixth double-double.

        “We moved the ball much better than we have in a long time, and then we stopped,” UC coach Bob Huggins said. “I don't know what it is ... it's not that we're out of shape.”

        With its third straight win, UC kept pace with Louisville, which holds the same league record, but the Bearcats maintained the tiebreaker advantage because of their season sweep over the Cardinals. A win Saturday at Memphis would give the Bearcats their fourth consecutive C-USA title.

        They also clinched a first-round bye in the Conference USA tournament. They will play a quarterfinal game Thursday at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center.

        “We've got to keep the intensity up,” Logan said. “We've got to learn how to bury teams. We don't have that right now.”

        Instead of the five turnovers in the first seven possessions they got against Louisville, the Bearcats got two three-pointers and a pull-up jumper from Logan in the first four minutes against South Florida and built a 12-2 lead.

        The Bearcats made their first nine shots from the field, plus a free throw from Mickeal for a three-point play, to build a 22-5 lead by the 12:55 mark.

        By halftime, UC was ahead 33-14. It was the lowest first-half total for a UC opponent this season. The Bulls shot just 6-of-30 from the field.

        UC became less aggressive about pushing the ball after gaining control, instead walking the ball up and struggling to initiate its offense.

        “I don't really know why it stopped,” Logan said of UC's running game. “I guess we wanted to be more patient, get into the half-court game, get our big guys some touches.”

        The Bearcats kept their lead relatively safe by permitting USF two baskets in that stretch, but they made only five of their last 20 shots before the break and continued their struggle to score into the second half.

        The Bearcats momentarily recovered their offensive swagger by cutting up the Bulls with quick dashes to the basket that led to scores by Logan and guard Shawn Myrick, and then Logan gave UC a 31-12 lead at the 5:06 mark with his third three-point shot.

        Over the next 10 minutes, UC scored just six more points. USF scored four.

        Although he made five of his final six shots to finish with 17 points, Waldon found it nearly impossible during the first 35 minutes to create room in the low post against Jermaine Tate and Martin. He missed nine of his first 11 shots and helped Martin to end a streak of three games in which he failed to block a shot.

        After Martin scored inside to give UC a 50-27 lead, the Bearcats went through eight consecutive trips without scoring, losing the ball six times on turnovers in that stretch and allowing their lead to dip to 15 points.

        “We weren't looking to shoot the ball like we were early,” Martin said.

        They did not score again until Mickeal snapped a lob pass to Martin that he slammed in near the five-minute mark. Martin was the only Bearcat player to produce a point for nearly seven minutes, until Logan went to the foul line and made two free with 2:44 left.

Notebook: Shooting title likely Mickeal's
Pirtle C-USA coach of year


CINCINNATI (64)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Tate            17   0-2   0-0   2-4  1  4    0
Mickeal         37  6-11   1-3  2-14  4  1   13
Martin          32   4-6   0-3   1-6  2  2    8
Levett          32  2-11   1-2   2-3  2  0    6
Logan           28   7-9   6-6   0-1  3  3   24
Myrick          12   1-3   0-0   0-1  1  0    2
Horton          12   1-2   0-0   0-2  2  0    2
Fletcher        27   3-9   2-2  3-10  1  2    9
Land             2   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  1    0
Mcghee           1   0-1   0-0   1-1  0  0    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 24-54 10-16 11-42 16 13   64
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.444, FT-.625. 3-Point Goals:
6-18, .333 (Mickeal 0-1, Levett 1-6, Logan 4-6,
Myrick 0-2, Fletcher 1-3). Team rebounds: 2.
Blocked shots: 7 (Martin 3, Levett, Myrick,
Horton, Fletcher). Turnovers: 22 (Martin 7,
Levett 4, Fletcher 2, Horton 2, Land 2, Logan 2,
Mickeal 2, Tate). Steals: 5 (Horton 2, Logan,
Martin, Myrick).


SOUTH FLORIDA (53)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Smith           29   1-6   0-0   0-2  2  1    2
Asbury          28   3-9   2-5   1-5  0  4    8
Reeves          24   1-3   2-2   2-4  0  1    4
Frazier         17   0-1   0-0   1-1  3  3    0
Jenkins         33  3-11   0-0   1-5  3  4    6
A Jackson       23  7-14   0-0   0-2  1  2   14
Waldon          33  7-17   0-0   2-3  1  2   17
Brown           13   1-2   0-0   1-5  1  1    2
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 23-63   4-7  8-27 11 18   53
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.365, FT-.571. 3-Point Goals:
3-14, .214 (Smith 0-2, Asbury 0-1, Jenkins 0-3, A
Jackson 0-3, Waldon 3-5). Team rebounds: 4.
Blocked shots: 3 (Waldon 2, Brown). Turnovers: 15
(Smith 4, A Jackson 3, Brown 2, Jenkins 2, Waldon
2, Asbury, Reeves). Steals: 9 (Waldon 4, A
Jackson 3, Reeves, Smith).
__________________________________
Cincinnati         33   31  -   64
South Florida      14   39  -   53
__________________________________
Technical fouls: None.  A: 8,882. Officials: Ted
Hillary, Tom Rucker, Steve Wellmer.


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