Friday, March 05, 1999


Charlotte tired of UC rehash

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It still gets under the skin of UNC Charlotte folks that the 49ers' January victory over UC is considered “controversial” because of the inadvertant whistle that interruped a potential Bearcats fastbreak.

        The 49ers led that game most of the way and got four late three-pointers from guard Diego Guevara to take a 62-60 lead, then fended off UC's attempt to score in the final 17 seconds to hold that edge.

        With UC and UNCC set to meet in the first of tonight's Conference USA tournament semifinals, the fifth-seeded 49ers could quiet the “controversy” complaints by defeating the Bearcats a second time and advancing to a third consecutive league title game.

        “Is that who we play?” said UNCC coach Bobby Lutz. “I think they're a team that has a legitimate chance to win the national championship. We're looking forward to it. Maybe we're crazy, but I'd rather be playing that going home.”

        That almost happened in the 49ers' 83-75 quarterfinal win over fourth-seeded Southern Mississippi. They held a 19-point lead with 12:09 left, but let that slip to four points with 1:55 remaining before backup point guard Kedric Smith sealed the game with 7-of-8 free throws.

        UNCC got stuck playing a first-round game because the league guarantees byes to the first two finishers in each division, meaning Southern Miss' 6-10 record placed it ahead of UNCC and its 10-6 mark.

        “I think it was an advantage on the second day,” Lutz said. “Tomorrow, it's a disadvantage. I'd take the bye every time. But that doesn't mean we're not going to show up.”

        RIM SHOT: When the Bearcats came out to warm up for the game, a few of them jumped to attempt dunk and noticed this was a bit more difficult that usual. They went to the opposite end and discovered slamming to be as easy as usual, so they suggested to the civic center crew that the rim at the East basket was too high.

        At first, their claim was dismissed, but C-USA officials suggested the rims be checked. It turned out the East goal was 10 feet, 1 inch. All four games in the first round had been played with uneven baskets.

        MR. MIKE: With 12 minutes left, concerned about the ease with which South Florida guard Shaddrick Jenkins was penetrating the lane against Logan, UC coach Bob Huggins inserted senior point guard Michael Horton and got in return the most productive minutes Horton had played since Jan. 29.

        Against UAB that afternoon, Horton passed for eight assists and committed one turnover. He since had turned it over 20 times in seven games, leading to a benching in a game against UNC Charlotte and just seven minutes in the title-clinching game against Memphis.

        There were only two turnovers this time, along with five assists in 15 minutes. After Jenkins was replaced by senior Andrikk Frazier, Huggins could have put freshman Steve Logan back at the point but decided to stick with Horton to build his confidence.

        “I thought Mike was really good,” Huggins said. “Mike took care of the ball, distributed. He made a couple free throws, which is good for him.”


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