Sunday, January 09, 2000

Bearcats lay claim to No. 1


Stanford loss, win over Marquette should lift UC to top again

BY MIKE DeCOURCY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[martin]
Kenyon Martin: 19 points, 10 rebounds
(AP photo)
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        The Cincinnati Bearcats may return to No.1 in the country in the next 48 hours, but they will arrive still recovering from the wounds Marquette inflicted Saturday.

        The No.3-ranked Bearcats (14-1, 3-0) left the Shoemaker Center with a 67-48 Conference USA victory over the Golden Eagles (8-5, 1-1) Saturday night and the knowledge No.5 Arizona had defeated top-ranked Stanford. Those results, together with No.2 Connecticut's loss earlier this week, leave the Bearcats as the logical choice to be voted No.1 in this week's polls (AP Poll | USAT/ESPN Poll).

        UC was feeling more like a survivor than a victor, though, after 40 minutes in Marquette's company.

        “They played hard,” said UC center Kenyon Martin, who scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season. “We had a lapse, and we've got to make up for it. It comes down to wins and losses, and we got a "W.'”

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Pete Mickeal
(Jeff Swinger photo)
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        UC has averaged 10 fewer points in its games against Marquette than against its other opponents in the past three seasons, and this game clearly fit that pattern.

        After a month of games in which shots came easily and more often than not connected, with a streak of seven consecutive games in which they shot better than .500 from the field, the Bearcats did not reach .400 against the Golden Eagles.

        UC's shooting percentage of .383 was its lowest of the season, as was the field-goal production (18). This was the fewest points the Bearcats scored in a victory. Pete Mickeal, who led UC with 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, shot 7-of-10 from the field. Everyone else was 11-of-37.

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Donald Little
(Jeff Swinger photo)
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        “We work a lot on transition defense, and we have a lot of respect for their break,” Marquette coach Tom Crean said. “They don't have many weaknesses, so you just have to come in, play physically and match their intensity and emotion. And that wasn't easy to do.”

        Crean was disappointed with his team's early effort, with the Golden Eagles unable to score for the first five minutes. Oluoma Nnamaka, Brian Wardle and John Cliff — their three primary offensive weapons — combined for only one shot in that stretch.

        The one thing in Marquette's favor was that even as it fell behind, it fell behind slowly. The Bearcats got only one transition basket in opening a 9-0 lead, which came when Martin stole a perimeter pass and drove for a dunk.

        Huggins chose not to enforce a more rapid pace by employing a pressure defense, and that kept Marquette from getting the easy shots that can result when a press is defeated. The Golden Eagles, forced to work through the UC defense for each of their field goal attempts, made only 3-of-15 in falling behind 22-9.

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DerMarr Johnson
(Jeff Swinger photo)
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        “We've played a lot of games in a very short period of time, and we've practiced pretty hard,” coach Bob Huggins said. “We don't necessarily have to press.

        “I don't think we ran. I thought our wing guys did a poor job of running, and when your wings do a poor job of running, it kind of gets clustered up. We've gone a lot of days in a row, and we may need a day off.”

        Following Martin's early slam, the only fast-break offense the Bearcats generated came near the 6-minute mark, when Mickeal hit two 3-pointers from the same spot on the left wing.

        Otherwise, their best offensive work was done at the free throw line. The Bearcats made 13-of-16 on their way to a 36-17 halftime lead.

        With Mickeal nearby during nearly every possession, Wardle barely touched the ball in scoring position. In the end he needed 18 shots to get to 11 points, and Cliff was 6-of-18 in scoring 17.

[logan]
Steve Logan
(Jeff Swinger photo)
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        UC's decision to slug through a half-court game worked as long as the Bearcats remained intent on playing defense. but that fire began to fade during the break.

        “We just didn't come out in the second half as aggressive as we were to start the game,” Huggins said.

        Shots that weren't made available to the Golden Eagles in the game's first half suddenly were open, and they outscored UC by a 15-8 margin in the first eight minutes.

        The Bearcats saw their lead cut to seven when Cliff was fouled by Mickeal attempting a 3-pointer with 5:06 left. Cliff made all three free throw to cut the Golden Eagles' deficit to 51-44.

        A pull-up jumper by guard Steve Logan with 4:41 remaining ended a UC field-goal drought at 7 minutes, 34 seconds. The Bearcats got only three more baskets the rest of the game, but scored enough on free throws to stretch the lead back toward a reasonably impressive margin.

        “We didn't play 40 minutes the way we anticipated or practiced to play. Against Cincinnati, your margin for error is smaller than against some others,” Crean said. “I don't have a vote right now. No one's offered me one as a rookie coach, but I'd give it to them.”

Struggling Johnson gets to watch, learn
Bearcats know No. 1 means nothing until March
No limits how good UC can be
Arizona 68, Stanford 65


MARQUETTE (48)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Nnamaka         26   5-6   2-3   2-5  0  4   13
Mueller         18   1-3   0-0   3-4  0  4    2
Cliff           30  6-18   3-3   0-2  1  1   17
Henry           26   1-9   0-0   2-7  1  5    2
Wardle          32  5-18   0-0   5-6  1  5   11
Barone          14   0-0   0-0   0-1  0  0    0
Miller           1   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Diggs           17   0-2   1-2   1-2  1  2    1
Harris          26   1-2   0-0   0-5  1  5    2
Polonowski       3   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Clausen          7   0-1   0-0   1-2  0  4    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 19-61   6-8 14-34  5 30   48
_______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.311, FT-.750. 3-Point Goals: 4-14, .286 (Nnamaka 1-2, Cliff 2-7, Henry 0-3, Wardle 1-2). Team rebounds: 4. Blocked shots: 1 (Mueller). Turnovers: 17 (Cliff 4, Wardle 3, Barone 2, Henry 2, Mueller 2, Nnamaka 2, Harris). Steals: 4 (Wardle 2, Cliff, Mueller).

CINCINNATI (67) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Tate 23 0-2 1-2 2-4 0 4 1 Mickeal 36 7-10 7-9 3-8 1 2 23 Martin 30 5-12 9-15 4-10 1 2 19 Johnson 22 1-2 2-2 1-1 0 0 5 Logan 32 2-8 1-2 0-0 4 1 5 Satterfield 23 2-7 4-6 2-6 3 2 8 Stokes 6 0-2 0-0 1-1 0 0 0 Fletcher 14 1-4 2-4 2-7 0 0 4 Little 14 0-0 2-4 0-3 0 0 2 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 18-47 28-44 15-40 9 11 67 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.383, FT-.636. 3-Point Goals: 3-8, .375 (Mickeal 2-2, Johnson 1-1, Logan 0-2, Satterfield 0-1, Stokes 0-1, Fletcher 0-1). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 7 (Martin 4, Tate, Mickeal, Little). Turnovers: 15 (Satterfield 4, Johnson 3, Martin 3, Logan 2, Fletcher, Mickeal, Tate). Steals: 5 (Martin 3, Johnson, Stokes). __________________________________ Marquette 17 31 - 48 Cincinnati 36 31 - 67 __________________________________ Technical fouls: None. A: 13,176. Officials: Steve Olson, Steven Pyatt, Larry Ware.