Monday, March 15, 1999


Bearcats whisper sweet nothings again

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Kenyon Martin
(Ernest Coleman photo)

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        BOSTON — There were disputed calls and freakish shots, but the Cincinnati Bearcats did not perish from the 1999 NCAA Tournament because of either. This time, their exit was as bloodless as a lethal injection.

        UC trailed Temple for all but 94 seconds of their second-round game Sunday at the FleetCenter, and was behind by double-figures for most of the last 30 minutes. The sixth-seeded Owls overpowered, outshot — and outexecuted — the Bearcats and sent them home short of the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive year, 64-54.

        “It's very tough,” said Bearcats shooting guard Melvin Levett, who ended his career with 14 points but shot 4-of-15. “I've been on teams like this three years in a row, move it to the second round and get knocked out. Knowing what we did, what we could have done, it's just sickening.”

Pete Mickeal
(Michael Snyder photo)

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        UC (27-5) faded from No. 3 in the nation to No. 3 in the NCAA's East Region in the space of a month, losing five of the final 11 games they played. In each of the defeats, they scored 60 or fewer points.

        UC figured to have difficulty against Temple's matchup zone, but it wasn't the Temple scheme that ruined UC. It was how that scheme was carried out and how the Bearcats reacted. They shot 17-of-49 from the floor, with Ryan Fletcher 0-for-7 and forward Pete Mickeal only getting four shots.

        The Bearcats had early success driving the ball into the defense, with Levett earning two free throws and a baseline jumper that tied the game at 6-all. Temple (23-10) began doubling Levett when he caught the ball on the wing, though, and UC settled for passing the ball around the perimeter.

        “Coach always told us, "Your will is better than your skill,'” said Temple guard Rasheed Brokenborough. “They tried to beat us athletically. They didn't try and use their heads. I knew from the first play they were going to have problems with our zone. They weren't attacking.”

Melvin Levett
(Ernest Coleman photo)

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        It really wasn't the Temple defense that most damaged the Bearcats. It was their own. With the Owls big men setting up away from the post, UC's defenders postioned themselves behind and were backed toward the goal for easy scores.

        Huggins reacted by calling for double-teams in those situa tions, but the Owls effectively reversed the ball to develop open three-pointers on the opposite wing. Guard Quincy Wadley, who missed the Atlantic 10 tournament with a broken left hand, made four three-pointers and scored 14 points.

        The Owls scored easily on their first three possessions and took a 6-0 lead, with 6-9 Kevin Lyde and 6-10 Lamont Barnes backing their way into scoring position and hitting jumpshots. They combined to hit 7-of-10 from the floor, and Barnes led Temple with 15 points.

        “We always start the game inside-out,” said Temple coach John Chaney. “I want to get the inside guys as many touches as you can, get them feeling good about themselves.”

Bob Huggins
(Micheal Snyder photo)

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        Temple opened a 16-7 lead that appeared terribly imposing given the Bearcats' struggle to score.

        “We dug ourselves a hole we had a hard time getting out of,” Huggins said. “Our whole deal coming in was we had to do a better job on the glass. And we got beat on the glass.”

        The Bearcats lost by one on the boards and gave up 13 offensive rebounds. Four of those came on a single possession and resulted in a Wadley three-pointer that made it 29-13, Temple's largest lead. On defense, UC had its worst defensive first half in memory, allowing the Owls to shoot 50 percent.

        Mickeal didn't score until 1:17 remained and he sliced down the center of the lane for a basket. UC outscored Temple 7-3 over the final four minutes and went into the half fortunate to be down by 11.

[levett and logan]
Melvin Levett and Steve Logan
(Michael Snyder photo)

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        The Bearcats' improved defensive work early in the second half permitted them to step to a six-point deficit with 12:59 left on two free throws by Mickeal that completed a 11-4 run.

        They squeezed a trap on Brokenborough at midcourt that looked like it was going to produce a tie-up, but Mickeal was called for a foul. UC then was caught doubling the post, and a quick ball reversal found Wadley open for a three-pointer. On the next trip, UC had no one on the weak side and surrendered an easy put-back to Keaton Sanders. The Owls were back to a 40-29 lead.

        They would not need a questionable traveling call to win, as did Iowa State in 1997. They would not need an impossible buzzer-beating, banked-in three-pointer, like West Virginia. They needed only to play out the final dozen minutes.

        “When you look up on the scoreboard, there's a big difference between six and 11,” Huggins said. “We just didn't get it done on the glass.

        “We didn't do what we set out to do. We gave them shots we talked about not giving them. I really feel like our defense let us down.”

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                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Barnes          40   5-8   5-6   2-3  1  3   15
Karcher         25   1-5   3-4   1-3  2  4    5
Lyde            23   2-2   1-2   3-5  0  4    5
Brokenborough   25   2-6   1-2   1-4  3  4    5
Sanchez         37   2-3  9-10   0-7  2  3   14
Sanders         20   2-8   0-0   3-3  0  2    4
Rollerson        5   1-2   0-0   1-1  0  1    2
Wadley          25  5-11   0-0   0-2  0  0   14
TOTALS         200 20-45 19-24 11-28  8 21   64

Percentages: FG-.444, FT-.792. 3-Point Goals: 5-17, .294 (Karcher 0-2, Brokenborough 0-3, Sanchez 1-1, Sanders 0-3, Wadley 4-8). Team rebounds: 4. Blocked shots: 4 (Barnes 2, Lyde 2). Turnovers: 16 (Barnes 3, Brokenborough 3, Sanchez 3, Karcher 2, Wadley 2, Lyde, Rollerson). Steals: 10 (Karcher 4, Sanchez 4, Barnes, Brokenborough).

CINCINNATI (54) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Tate 11 0-0 2-2 0-1 0 2 2 Mickeal 37 2-4 4-4 1-5 2 4 8 Martin 35 7-9 2-6 7-8 2 5 16 Levett 35 4-15 4-4 3-5 1 2 14 Logan 36 4-12 1-2 0-2 0 2 13 Myrick 6 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 2 0 Horton 3 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Mitchell 4 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 1 0 Fletcher 33 0-7 1-2 1-6 3 4 1 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 17-49 14-21 12-27 9 22 54 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.347, FT-.667. 3-Point Goals: 6-22, .273 (Levett 2-10, Logan 4-10, Mitchell 0-1, Fletcher 0-1). Team rebounds: 4. Blocked shots: 3 (Martin 2, Fletcher). Turnovers: 16 (Logan 3, Mickeal 3, Fletcher 2, Horton 2, Martin 2, Tate 2, Mitchell). Steals: 9 (Levett 3, Mickeal 2, Tate 2, Fletcher, Logan). __________________________________ Temple 29 35 - 64 Cincinnati 18 36 - 54 __________________________________ Technical fouls: None. A: 18,913. Officials: David Hall, Tom Rucker, Bobby Hunt.