Friday, March 05, 1999

UC 76, SOUTH FLORIDA 56


Mickeal's 13-of-15 sets record

BY MIKE DeCOURCY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[mickeal]
Pete Mickeal fouls South Florida's Cedric Smith.
(AP photo)

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        BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — It took awhile for Pete Mickeal to remember the two misses, not that it made a lot of sense to ask about them. The thing was, on a night when everything he did, every shot he took was nearly flawless, the imperfection that slipped into his play seemed to merit an explanation.

        “I'm upset he missed two shots,” said Cincinnati Bearcats coach Bob Huggins. “I don't know what he's thinking about.”

        Mickeal wasn't thinking about how monstrous he was, even while making a Conference USA tournament-record 13-of-15 from the field and scoring a career-high 28 points to lead the No. 7 Bearcats to a 76-56 victory over South Florida in Thursday's quarterfinal at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center.

C-USA TOURNEY
Thursday
• UC 76, S. Florida 56
• UNC Charlotte 83, Southern Mississippi 75
• UAB 79, DePaul 73
• Saint Louis 59, Louisville 53
Today
• UC vs. UNC Charlotte, 7 p.m. (Ch. 64)
• UAB vs. Saint Louis, 9:30 p.m.
        Not until the closing minutes, after he'd nailed a difficult right-handed shot to complete a drive to the left and followed that with a scoop shot from one of his center-of-the-lane spin moves — “That shot's patented,” he said — did Mickeal recognize what he'd accomplished.

        “Toward the end, when those two shots went down, I knew it was my game,” Mickeal said. “When I play, when I'm on my game, no one can stop me.”

[martin]
Kenyon Martin.
(AP photo)

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        UNC Charlotte's all-conference Galen Young will be the next to try, with the Bearcats (26-4) matched against the 49ers (20-10) in tonight's 7 p.m. semifinal. Mickeal badly outplayed Young in their last meeting, but in two games the teams split has outscored him only 32-29.

        Against South Florida, Mickeal was on a triple-double pace at the half, but he finished with the five assists he had at the break and ended one rebound short of a double-double.

        “It seems like wherever the ball is, he's there,” said UC center Kenyon Martin, who scored 10 points. “When he's active, it opens things up for everybody.”

        Mickeal talked with shooting guard Melvin Levett before the game, and they decided they'd try to combine for 50 points against the Bulls. Levett scored 20, which meant they fell two short.

        Huggins maintains the most important element of UC's offense, given the scarcity of Bearcats who can create the room to launch a jumpshot with a quick dribble, is ball movement. Only five of their first-half scores did not result from assists.

        “A couple of times the ball swung around to me, and it was just a matter of me getting set, taking my shot,” Levett said. “I got into a little groove.”

        After the Bearcats used their basic man-to-man defense to hold USF to 6-of-30 shooting in the first half of their game a week earlier, Huggins made the surprising decision to employ a fullcourt press and extend his halfcourt defense in an effort to create traps on the ball.

        The Bulls found this approach extremely inviting. They started 8-of-9 from the field. When the Bearcats returned to the tight, man-to-man defense so stifling during their season-ending, four-game winning streak, USF made 14 of its final 42 shots, a .333 percentage.

        Huggins explained UC went to the press because USF did not start Andrikk Frazier, its only true point guard, and appeared not to handle fullcourt defense well in an opening-round win over Memphis.

        “I'm just trying to be too smart,” Huggins said, with a sarcastic edge to his voice. “I've just got to do what's simple, that I'm smart enough to handle, and not get ahead of myself.”

        UC trailed by as much as 18-12 in the first half, but what it gave up early with a porous defense was recovered with the most efficient offense in weeks. Although freshman point guard Steve Logan struggled to find the range on his shot, leaving short his first three long-distance attempts, they got their primary targets involved.

        Mickeal did not miss a shot in the final 20 minutes. He tried five, made five. If only he'd been as perfect in the first half.

        “The first one, I was under the basket, pump-faked, went back up and missed it. I thought I was going to get the offensive rebound, but I didn't,” Mickeal said. “The second one, I missed a jumper, got it right back and scored.

        “When we were in the press, I was at the front, so I tried to be real active. That didn't really work out so well, so I had to do something else.”

- UC 76, SOUTH FLORIDA 56
Notebook: Charlotte tired of UC rehash
C-USA Roundup: Charlotte gets 20th win
UK live in Ky.; on tape in Ohio


SOUTH FLORIDA (56)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Reeves          38   6-8   2-5   2-3  0  3   14
Waldon          27  4-11   1-4   1-6  3  5   10
Asbury          37   1-5   1-1   1-2  3  3    3
Smith           31   3-8   0-0   0-3  2  1    8
Jenkins         34   3-7   5-7   4-4  1  1   11
Frazier          8   0-1   0-0   2-2  1  1    0
A Jackson       23  5-11   0-2   2-3  0  1   10
Brown            2   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 22-51  9-19 12-23 10 15   56
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.431, FT-.474. 3-Point Goals:
3-10, .300 (Waldon 1-2, Smith 2-5, Jenkins 0-2, A
Jackson 0-1). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 2
(A Jackson 2). Turnovers: 17 (Smith 5, Waldon 5,
A Jackson 3, Jenkins 3, Frazier). Steals: 7
(Reeves 3, Brown, Jenkins, Smith, Waldon).


CINCINNATI (76)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Tate            30   1-5   0-0   1-6  2  3    2
Mickeal         36 13-15   2-2   5-9  5  0   28
Martin          23   4-7   2-2   3-4  2  4   10
Levett          28  8-16   2-2   1-2  1  2   20
Logan           25   1-7   1-2   2-3  3  1    3
Myrick           9   0-2   4-4   3-3  0  0    4
Horton          15   1-1   2-2   0-2  5  4    4
Mitchell         6   1-1   0-0   0-0  0  2    3
Fletcher        27   1-3   0-0   0-5  3  3    2
Meacham          1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 30-57 13-14 15-34 21 19   76
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.526, FT-.929. 3-Point Goals:
3-13, .231 (Levett 2-7, Logan 0-4, Myrick 0-1,
Mitchell 1-1). Team rebounds: 1. Blocked shots: 2
(Martin, Levett). Turnovers: 13 (Mickeal 3,
Horton 2, Logan 2, Martin 2, Meacham, Mitchell,
Myrick, Tate). Steals: 8 (Mickeal 3, Myrick 2,
Fletcher, Martin, Tate).
__________________________________
South Florida      33   23  -   56
Cincinnati         43   33  -   76
__________________________________
Technical fouls: None. Officials: Tom Rucker,
Steve Welmer, David Bair.


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