Sunday, February 06, 2000

UC 93, Alabama-Birmingham 80

Martin's day: 31 points, 16 rebounds, 7 blocks, 1 crash landing

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Kenyon Martin grabs one of his 16 rebounds.
(AP photos)
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        BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Everyone's eyes followed the ball. Well, almost everyone's. Donald Little saw the crash-landing from his seat on the Cincinnati Bearcats bench, so it followed he was the first to be alarmed.

        It was impossible to miss what might have been UC center Kenyon Martin's most spectacular block of the season. Not even two minutes into UC's game Saturday afternoon against Alabama-Birmingham at Bartow Arena, he splattered a layup by Myron Ransom against the backboard, and the ball flew toward midcourt.

        Then, a whistle blew, and there was Martin face down, immobile on the court. He did not move for minutes. While most Bearcats mixed instant concern for his welfare with curiousity regarding what happened, Little knew.

        “I thought it was serious, to tell you the truth,” said Little, a freshman center. “I was scared. It's a good thing he got up all right.”

  Kenyon Martin broke his school record for blocked shots when he rejected David Walker's attempt on UAB's first possession of the second half.
  Martin needed three to tie the mark of 83 he set in 1997-98, and he had those in the first half. After the block on Walker, he got two more in the next three minutes and finished with seven, giving him 87 for the season.
        In fact, Martin got up better than that. He got up to score a career-high 31 points, grab 16 rebounds and power the No.1-ranked Bearcats to a 93-80 Conference USA victory over the Blazers.

        “I just hit my head, and my fingers went numb for a minute. Besides that, there wasn't anything to it,” Martin said. “They had to take me out, or I wouldn't have come out. I tried to to get back up and go in, but they told me to just give it a couple minutes. I was ready to go back and play.”

        Martin had tumbled over Ransom as he tried to come down from his jump, landing on his spine and then whipping his head against the floor.

        Eventually, he began to rub the back of his head, and not long after was able to rise and walk to the bench. But he did not sit there even as long as he did on the court.

A UAB player grabs Pete Mickeal's ankle as Mickeal grabs a loose ball.
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        Martin was out of the game for less than two minutes and one UAB basket. He returned with 17:26 left, and 29 seconds later set himself in the post, demanded the ball and scored on a turnaround jumper to tie the game.

        “When someone thinks you're hurt, they try to take advantage of you,” Martin said. “I wanted them to know I wasn't hurt.”

        Martin dominated this game as much as any he has played this season, but the Bearcats (22-1, 10-0) operated smoothly as a team. They had 20 assists for the fifth time — only the second against a league opponent — and benefitted from four double-figure scoring efforts, including 25 from guard Steve Logan in his fourth game off the bench.

        UAB coach Murry Bartow has had his team defend UC with zones in the past, so it wasn't surprising to see the Blazers (12-8, 5-4 CUSA) set themselves in a 2-3 early in the game. The Bearcats didn't expect it, though, after Logan came off the bench in place of Pete Mickeal, who picked up two fouls in the first four minutes.

        Logan hit twice from 3-point range and scored on the break off a superb feed from point guard Kenny Satterfield, which helped UC outscore the Blazers 23-7 over the next eight minutes. The Bearcats led by as many as 17 points in the first half and held a 43-30 edge at the break.

        With Martin so effective guarding the middle and UAB seriously undersized along the front line, the Blazers' only decent scoring opportunities came when they dumped their offense and chose to go one-on-one. The deeper they got into their plays, the more trouble they encountered. When guard Eric Holmes created his own shot — he scored 25 points — Martin was unable to get involved.

        “He's going to get his blocks, he's going to alter six or seven more and he's going to change the mind-set of your team,” Bartow said of Martin. “He's the best defender in the country, and we knew that coming in.”

        It was more than a little frustrating for the Bearcats to defend a team that did not function as one. At the start of the second half, UAB ran off eight consecutive points and unleashed defensive pressure that squeezed loose three turnovers.

        With two free throws from Holmes, UAB closed to a 49-42 deficit, and rugged forward My ron Ransom had a makeable baseline jumper on the possession that followed a technical foul against UC's Jermaine Tate. But he fired long, the Bearcats rebounded and four minutes later led by 17 points.

        In six UC possessions that covered 3:23, Logan scored 13 points and assisted on a 3-point basket by Mickeal.

        “I wanted to get back to playing my game,” Logan said. “I felt good today. I felt like every shot I threw up was going in.”

        Huggins switched his defense to a 1-2-2 zone. That forced the Blazers to pass the basketball rather than dribble their way into pull-up jumpers, and they went scoreless on four of their first five possessions following the change.

        “It wasn't because of them as much,” Huggins said. “I was afraid we weren't going to have anybody left. Everybody was in foul trouble.”

        Everybody except Martin, who finished the game on his feet and with huge numbers in every category but fouls. He was charged with two. He hit the floor hard, but that was all.

        “I didn't see what happened,” Huggins said. “He's so tough, unless he's really, really in bad shape, he's going to play. He's such a warrior.”

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                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Tate            18   0-0   0-0   2-4  0  3    0
Mickeal         22   2-7   1-1   2-3  2  4    6
Martin          33 10-16 11-14  4-16  0  2   31
Johnson         20   4-8   4-7   2-3  2  4   13
Satterfield     36   1-2   2-2   0-5  8  4    4
Stokes           7   1-2   0-0   0-0  0  0    3
Logan           35  8-11   5-6   0-2  5  1   25
Fletcher        22   5-7   1-2   2-6  2  3   11
Little           7   0-0   0-0   0-1  1  1    0
TOTALS         200 31-53 24-32 12-40 20 22   93

Percentages: FG-.585, FT-.750. 3-Point Goals: 7-15, .467 (Mickeal 1-2, Johnson 1-4, Satterfield 0-1, Stokes 1-2, Logan 4-6). Team rebounds: 1. Blocked shots: 8 (Martin 7, Johnson). Turnovers: 21 (Satterfield 4, Tate 4, Fletcher 3, Martin 3, Johnson 2, Logan 2, Mickeal 2, Little). Steals: 6 (Martin 2, Satterfield 2, Mickeal, Tate).

UAB (80) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Walker 17 2-6 0-0 3-5 0 5 4 Ransom 28 5-16 0-2 4-6 0 5 10 Nikolic 27 3-8 3-4 3-7 2 4 9 Ward 33 6-10 1-2 6-8 2 3 13 Johnson 9 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Bass 24 3-8 3-4 2-6 2 3 9 Holmes 36 7-15 9-12 0-2 1 2 25 Finley 18 4-11 0-0 1-1 2 2 10 Ball 7 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 2 0 Moore 1 0-0 0-2 1-2 0 1 0 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 30-74 16-26 20-37 9 27 80 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.405, FT-.615. 3-Point Goals: 4-15, .267 (Bass 0-1, Holmes 2-8, Finley 2-6). Team rebounds: None. Blocked shots: 1 (Johnson). Turnovers: 11 (Ransom 4, Bass 2, Nikolic 2, Ward 2, Holmes). Steals: 9 (Bass 2, Walker 2, Ward 2, Finley, Johnson, Ransom). __________________________________ Cincinnati 43 50 - 93 Uab 30 50 - 80 __________________________________ Technical fouls: Cincinnati 1 (Tate). A: 9,279. Officials: Rick Hartzell, Steven Pyatt, Terry Moore.

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