Saturday, March 17, 2001

UC reaches Sweet 16


Bearcats beat jinx, rout Kent St. 66-43

By Michael Perry
The Cincinnati Enquirer

PHOTO GALLERY

Bob Huggins embraces Steve Logan.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
        SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Over the past five months, their own coach has labeled them as young, inexperienced, inconsistent, physically weak and, at times, lacking toughness. They have been banned from their locker room and stripped of their practice gear. They were booed in their home arena.

        Yet this University of Cincinnati team is headed to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, ending a drought of four straight second-round exits.

        The Bearcats, seeded fifth in the West Region, advanced with a convincing 66-43 victory over 13th seed Kent State on Saturday before 10,149 fans at Cox Arena on the campus of San Diego State University.

        “I'm really happy for the guys,” 12th-year coach Bob Huggins said. “They struggled some early (in the season) and took some criticism, probably rightfully so. And they responded.

        “They've come a long way. These guys just keep getting better. They get better almost every time out.”

[img]
Logan and teammates cheer in the final moments.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
        This will be UC's fourth Sweet 16 appearance under Huggins — the first since 1996 — and the ninth overall since the tournament field expanded to more than 16 teams.

        As the team left the court, the UC band starting singing, “M-I-C-K-E-Y ...” Why? Because UC is going to Disneyland.

        The Bearcats (25-9), who have won eight of their past nine, will play Thursday in Anaheim, Calif., against top-seeded Stanford.

        “It's kind of hard to believe, but I always had a special feeling that we could make a run,” junior guard Steve Logan said.

        “When you're the underdog, people tend to look over you and that motivates you. When you're on top, you tend to get a little relaxed; there's nothing for you to achieve. When guys are knocking you and the city's knocking you, you want to go out and show people what you can do.

        “We believed in each other in this locker room. Just listen to these guys. There's a lot of fun in here now.”

[img]
Jamaal Davis
| ZOOM |
        UC won Saturday with one reliable trait (defense) and by overcoming one Achilles' heel (rebounding).

        It dominated the boards more than in any game this season (42-21) and held Kent State guards Trevor Huffman and Andrew Mitchell to a combined 16 points — 13.3 below their collective average — on 5-of-23 shooting. The Golden Flashes (24-10) shot just 26.9 percent from the field — a season-low for UC opponents.

        Cincinnati jumped out to a 6-0 lead and never trailed.

        “It was a curse, they said, you can't get past the second round,” Logan said. “That's the worst thing I ever heard in my life. You hear something so much, you're just sick of it.”

        “We played bad in the past, but we came together,” junior Immanuel McElroy said. “We're playing together. We're playing aggressive. We're not taking anything for granted. We came here to win two, but we also want to win the whole thing.”

        Huggins sent this message to his players early: Rebound and play hard, or you're coming out.

[img]
Immanuel McElroy
| ZOOM |
        On Kent's first possession, it grabbed an offensive rebound.

        Immediately, Huggins yelled for Donald Little to get in the game for B.J. Grove. Leonard Stokes was on the floor for 33 seconds before Huggins thought he was outhustled on a UC turnover, so he pulled Stokes out.

        The Bearcats led 30-22 at halftime. They built their advantage to 15 points 5:15 into the second half.

        “We've come a long way,” Logan said. “To be able to come out in the second half with the same intensity as the first half ... ”

        To try and slow down Huffman, UC was running a second defender at him, especially throughout the first half. That was forcing him to give up the ball quickly, which is what the Bearcats wanted.

        His only first-half field goal was a 3-pointer that looked forced. He finished 2-of-11 from the field with just seven points, only his fourth single-digit scoring effort of the season.

        “They just shut us down in all aspects,” Huffman said.

        “I don't think he was looking to score that much,” said UC's Kenny Satterfield, who defended Huffman.

        When Logan came out for good with 46.7 seconds left, he embraced Huggins and started slapping hands of teammates and coaches, shouting “Sweet 16, Sweet Sweet.”

        Logan said Huggins told him: “You deserve to be in the Sweet 16. Just keep playing hard.”

        Logan responded: “I appreciate you, man. Way to coach.”

PHOTO GALLERY
DAUGHERTY: Bearcats dial up defense
Huggins prods; Davis produces
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Online pool and college hoops coverage at Cincinnati.com


KENT STATE (43)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Shaw            33   4-8   3-7   3-5  0  0   12
Massey          27   2-8   0-0   0-1  0  1    4
Perry           25   0-4   0-0   2-3  0  3    0
Mitchell        31  3-12   3-4   2-2  1  2    9
Huffman         37  2-11   2-2   0-2  3  0    7
Haut             2   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Thomas          22   1-3   4-4   0-0  0  0    7
Bedford          2   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Warren          15   2-5   0-0   2-4  0  5    4
Edwards          6   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 14-52 12-17  9-17  4 11   43
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.269, FT-.706. 3-Point Goals:
3-10, .300 (Shaw 1-1, Massey 0-1, Perry 0-1,
Mitchell 0-2, Huffman 1-3, Thomas 1-2). Team
rebounds: 4. Blocked shots: 2 (Mitchell,
Edwards). Turnovers: 9 (Huffman 4, Mitchell 2,
Warren 2, Thomas). Steals: 12 (Shaw 5, Mitchell
4, Huffman, Massey, Perry).


CINCINNATI (66)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Davis           30   8-9   0-0  6-10  0  2   16
Mcelroy         29   1-2   0-0   1-5  1  2    2
Grove           16   3-3   0-0   1-5  0  2    6
Satterfield     35  5-15   0-1   0-4  7  3   10
Logan           34  5-12   1-1   1-6  3  2   13
Williams         1   1-1   0-0   0-0  0  0    3
Jones            5   1-2   0-0   0-1  0  0    2
Stokes          21   4-6   0-0   0-1  0  2    8
Flowers          1   0-0   0-0   0-1  0  0    0
Crawford         1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Little          27   1-3   4-5   2-6  1  3    6
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 29-53   5-7 11-39 12 16   66
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.547, FT-.714. 3-Point Goals:
3-10, .300 (Mcelroy 0-1, Satterfield 0-3, Logan
2-4, Williams 1-1, Stokes 0-1). Team rebounds: 3.
Blocked shots: 6 (Little 3, Grove, Stokes,
Davis). Turnovers: 17 (Satterfield 5, Davis 4,
Logan 3, Grove, Little, Mcelroy, Stokes). Steals:
4 (Satterfield 2, Little, Stokes).
__________________________________
Kent State         22   21  -   43
Cincinnati         30   36  -   66
__________________________________
Technical fouls: None.  A: 10,149. Officials: Jim
Burr, Joe Demayo, John Cahill.


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