Sunday, March 04, 2001

Bearcats win 6th straight C-USA title


Win over DePaul leaves them co-champs with So. Miss

By Michael Perry
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        CHICAGO — The 11 other Conference USA coaches have to be shaking their heads today.

        This was their year to dethrone the regular-season king of the league. Cincinnati was vulnerable. The morning of Feb.3, the Bearcats were 4-4 in league play, two games behind American Division leader Marquette.

        “We were down,” junior guard Steve Logan said. “Everybody was counting us out.”

        What happened?

        UC won seven of its last eight games and not only won the division but captured its sixth C-USA regular-season championship in the league's six-year history — and the No.1 seed in the conference tournament.

        The Bearcats beat DePaul 75-62 Saturday. Once con sidered all but out of the running for the league's best record, Cincinnati took advantage of results from other schools. Such as:

        • Marquette's demise — The Golden Eagles, who beat the Bearcats twice, lost their last three games, including a 23-point defeat Saturday at Charlotte.

        • Memphis' stumble — The Tigers lost four of their last six, including Saturday at Louisville.

        Cincinnati (21-8, 11-5) is co-champ with Southern Miss, which also finished 11-5. UC wins the tiebreaker for the top seed because it beat USM 64-52 on Feb.10.

        UC has won its last four road games.

        The Bearcats play at 7p.m. Thursday against the winner of Louisville and Alabama-Birmingham; those teams play at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Freedom Hall.

        “We didn't want to be the first (UC) team to not win the league,” Logan said. “We've got great confidence right now. We can go a long way.”

        “We never doubted ourselves,” sophomore Kenny Satterfield said. “We just knew we had to stick together as a team. I don't think we like to be against the wall like that. But if we've got to play for our lives, we know how to play like that.”

        Last year, the conference title was a foregone conclusion, a footnote for a season in which the Final Four was UC's prime objective.

        This year, it was more of a chore. UC lost more C-USA games (five) than ever before.

        DePaul was picked to finish second in the American Division behind UC. Instead, the Blue Demons were per haps the biggest disappointment in C-USA, losing their last four and finishing the regular season 12-17, 4-12.

        UC never trailed Saturday and led by as many as 17 points.

        “We were ready,” Logan said. “I had a little talk with them to let them know how serious this was ... We always win the league; that's expected from us.”

        The Bearcats have won nine of their last 11 games. .

        “I'm really proud of them,” coach Bob Huggins said. “They didn't quit. This team has gotten so much better, particularly at the defensive end. We're hard to score against. ... They play so hard. They try to do what you ask them to do.”

        Satterfield led the way Saturday with 17 points, seven assists, four rebounds and just one turnover. Logan added 16 points, nine of which he scored in the first seven minutes. Leonard Stokes came off the bench to score 10.

        Over the past two games, UC has forced 36 turnovers and committed 19.

        “If you look at tape from two months ago and probably the last 12 games, you'll see a big difference in our defense, especially the guards,” Satterfield said. “Now we put a lot of pressure on the guy with the ball so he can't throw it that easily to the guy in the post, and the guys in the post we're doubling.”

        Huggins and several players were asked Saturday about the consistency of the program. UC is 76-16 (.826) in C-USA regular-season play, 20 victories more than any team in the league.

        “We went to the Final Four in '92 and some jerk in Denver said we'd never last,” Huggins said. “We've got good guys who really work at it. They put the time in. This is certainly not our most talented bunch, but they've really done a great job of working hard.

        “The hard thing about what we do is there's tomorrow. We've got to go get ready for the conference tournament, and you don't really get to savor anything until it's over with. ... Maybe when I retire, I'll do a lot savoring.”

C-USA tourney up for grabs
Conference USA tournament schedule
Conference USA women's tournament schedule
UC women make tourney semifinals


CINCINNATI (75)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Davis           24   4-6   0-0   2-6  1  4    8
Grove           18   2-6   0-0   4-6  3  3    4
Satterfield     38  4-10   6-8   1-4  7  2   17
Logan           34  6-16   2-2   1-5  4  1   16
Williams         5   2-2   0-0   0-0  1  1    6
Jones           14   1-4   0-0   1-2  1  0    2
Stokes          27   2-7   5-6   0-2  1  2   10
Mcelroy         16   1-3   2-2   2-2  0  1    4
Little          24   4-5   0-3   1-4  0  5    8
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 26-59 15-21 12-31 18 19   75
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.441, FT-.714. 3-Point Goals:
8-19, .421 (Satterfield 3-5, Logan 2-7, Williams
2-2, Jones 0-1, Stokes 1-4). Team rebounds: 3.
Blocked shots: 4 (Davis 2, Little 2). Turnovers:
5 (Davis, Jones, Little, Satterfield, Stokes).
Steals: 8 (Stokes 3, Davis, Little, Logan,
Mcelroy, Satterfield).


DEPAUL (62)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Simmons         40  9-17   5-6   2-8  2  2   26
Williams        20   3-5   0-0   0-2  0  1    6
Hunter          23   2-7   0-2   5-9  1  0    4
Tulley          21   2-4   2-2   2-3  5  4    7
Sawyer          29   0-5   2-2   0-1  4  2    2
Brown           17   1-2   0-0   0-1  1  2    2
Cashin           4   0-1   2-2   1-1  2  2    2
Burno           28   2-7   1-2   0-2  1  3    6
Bruno            1   0-0   0-2   0-0  0  0    0
Oden            17   3-4   1-1   1-4  0  3    7
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 22-52 13-19 11-31 16 19   62
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.423, FT-.684. 3-Point Goals:
5-14, .357 (Simmons 3-6, Tulley 1-3, Sawyer 0-1,
Burno 1-4). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 6
(Hunter 2, Oden 2, Tulley, Williams). Turnovers:
16 (Burno 4, Sawyer 4, Hunter 3, Simmons 2,
Tulley 2, Oden). Steals: 3 (Cashin, Hunter,
Tulley).
__________________________________
Cincinnati         35   40  -   75
Depaul             27   35  -   62
__________________________________
Technical fouls: Cincinnati 1 (Little).  A:
8,325. Officials: Tom O'neill, Tom Harrington,
Frank Bosone.


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