Wednesday, March 14, 2001

UC confident in close games

Experience could be asset in tournament

By Michael Perry
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        If the University of Cincinnati's NCAA Tournament fate should come down to the final minutes of a close game, the Bearcats will feel right at home.

        This team has tied (with the 1989-90 Bearcats) for most games decided by 10 or fewer points under coach Bob Huggins (21); UC is 13-8 in those. Nine games have been decided by five or fewer points; UC is 4-5 in those.

        “We can't experience anything we haven't experienced before,” junior Jamaal Davis said. “We have to learn from yesterday. All we have to do is don't quit, don't give up no matter what, because anything can happen.”

        Every season-ending loss for the Bearcats in the NCAA or NIT in 11 previous postseasons under Bob Hug gins was by 10 or fewer points. Overall, Huggins' Cincinnati teams have lost only 20 times by more than 10 points.

        The Bearcats are more accustomed to being on the other end of one-sided games. Last season, they averaged 77.6 points a game while giving up an average of 61.5.

        “Last year, we had a lot more blowouts than we had close games,” sophomore Kenny Satterfield said. “Coming down to the end, if the game is tight, we'll know what kind of situation we're in. It helps you mentally, because you've been there before and you know what it takes to win.”

        Example: With 4:28 remaining against Memphis in the Conference USA Tour nament semifinals, UC trailed 71-67. The Bearcats had cut the deficit to one point going into a media timeout with 3:56 left and ended up winning 89-79.

        “We've been through it so many times,” sophomore B.J. Grove said. “Last year, we didn't have to worry about being down by five with 10 minutes left, because we were always ahead.

        We'd just kill people. This is a lot different. It should give us an edge.”

        The Bearcats (23-9), who play Brigham Young on Thursday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, left Tuesday for San Diego, site of their game. Today begins the open practices and press conferences.

        BYU (24-8) is 9-6 in games decided by 10 or fewer points.

        UC players say they have learned from good and bad experiences in game-ending situations.

        Huggins said it often comes down to whether guards Steve Logan and Satterfield, the team's top two scorers, are putting the ball in the basket.

        “Sometimes we've finished off games pretty good, and sometimes we haven't,” Huggins said.

        “Lately, we've finished off games better than we have all year. When Satt and Lo make shots, we're going to finish games pretty good, and when they don't make shots, we're not. They didn't make shots against Charlotte (in the conference tournament final). If one of those two guys aren't on, somebody else has got to make shots.”

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