Thursday, February 28, 2002

Subs give UC a boost


Foul trouble plagues starters against Louisville

By Michael Perry
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LOUISVILLE - They looked listless all night. They didn't look confident. They didn't look energized. They didn't play the kind of defense that has been their trademark all season.

        All that added up to Louisville's 74-71 upset of the fourth-ranked University of Cincinnati on Wednesday night at Freedom Hall, a loss that could cost the Bearcats a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

        Cincinnati (26-3, 13-2 C-USA) now must defeat Memphis on Sunday at Shoemaker Center (1 p.m., ABC) to win the Conference USA regular-season championship outright and earn the No. 1 seed in the league tournament.

        If the Tigers (22-7, 12-3) win, they will collect a share of the regular-season title and be the tournament's No. 1 seed.

        The Bearcats have been the top seed in each of the first six C-USA tourneys. They are ensured a share of their seventh regular-season title.

        Coach Bob Huggins didn't find anything positive to take from Wednesday night's game.

        “I think you really have to be an idiot to have to lose to learn,” Huggins said. “I think you've got to be the dumbest S.O.B. in the world. Why can't you just go out and play and learn and practice and learn. All that stuff about oh, it's good for us. What's so good about it?”

        Senior Steve Logan and junior Taron Barker each missed 3-point attempts in the final seconds for Cincinnati. Logan finished just 7-of-22 from the field with a team-high 18 points -- just six in the first half. He declined to comment afterward.

        “He usually makes the big shots,” Huggins said. “They didn't go down.”

        Louisville (16-11, 7-8) shot 61.9 percent from the field in the second half against the league's top-rated defense and outrebounded the bigger Bearcats 37-34.

        UC, meanwhile, shot only 33.3 percent in the second half and missed seven free throws on the night.

        “If we don't do a great job of guarding, it's hard for us to win,” Huggins said. “We have to win with our defense. We're not going to win with our offense.

        “We didn't run any offense. They did a great job. They played really hard, which we knew they would. We weren't very good. ... We weren't very good in practice this week. I tried to talk to all of them individually. I don't know. Why would you not come to play?”

        The UC coaches said all week that Louisville is a different team at home. Indeed, the Cardinals looked nothing like the club that lost 77-50 at Shoemaker Center on Jan. 19. They played with more energy and enthusiasm than UC all night.

        The Cardinals, who trailed by four at halftime, scored eight straight points to go ahead 52-45 with 12:58 remaining after a Reece Gaines 3-pointer over Barker brought the Freedom Hall crowd to its feet. That was their biggest lead of the game.

        Cincinnati played catchup for the next five minutes before tying it on a turnaround jumper by freshman Jason Maxiell.

        It was deadlocked at 62, 64 and 66, then game went back and forth for the final four minutes.

        Larry O'Bannon made 1 of 2 free throws to give Louisville a 67-66 lead with 3:05 to play. Donald Little rebounded his own missed jumper and dunked it in to put UC ahead.

        Luke Whitehead drove past the Bearcats for a layup to make it 69-68 Louisville with 2:19 left. Logan missed from the corner, and the Cardinals got another basket when Whitehead sent a bounce pass to Ellis Myles for a backdoor layup. It was 71-68 with 1:33 to play.

        Logan missed a long 3-point attempt, but Jamaal Davis got the rebound and sent the ball back to Logan, who was fouled. The school's all-time leader in free throw percentage (.862) uncharacteristically missed the front end of a one-and-one situation with one minute remaining.

        But Logan stole the ball from Gaines at the other end. Once across midcourt, he fired a pass to Little that flew past everybody out of bounds with 41.9 seconds to go.

        UC fouled Bryant Northern, who made 1 of 2 foul shots with 37.5 seconds on the clock for a four-point lead.

        Bearcats senior Immanuel McElroy took a pass on the right wing, dribbled a step back and nailed a 3-pointer to pull UC within 72-71 with 18.2 seconds left. Cincinnati immediately called a timeout.

        This is what all but ended UC's hopes:

        On the inbounds play under the Bearcats' basket, Whitehead threw a football pass the length of the court and got an uncontested layup from Gaines.

        “We weren't mentally ready for this game,” Maxiell said. “We just came in thinking it was going to be easy because we beat them at home by 27. But they were ready to play, and we weren't really focused on the game. We kind of overlooked this, just relaxed and didn't come in ready to play.'

        Field Williams finished with 13 points, three assists and a career-high five rebounds for UC. McElroy added 11 points and Maxiell 10 points and six rebounds.

        Gaines scored a game-high 26 points for the Cardinals. The 6-foot-8 Myles had a career-high 18 points to go with 12 rebounds and was the dominant inside player in the game.

        “If you stand behind a guy when he's under the basket, it's really hard to guard him,” Huggins said. “We haven't stood behind anybody all year.”

        The Bearcats were ahead of Louisville 38-34 after the first 20 minutes thanks to some stellar play from their substitutes.

        Barker scored eight first-half points, including two 3-pointers, which was his best offensive output since he scored 18 on Dec. 20 against Louisiana-Monroe.

        Maxiell had eight points and five rebounds. Williams had seven points and four rebounds.

        All those guys were needed with most of UC's starters on the bench with two fouls.

        McElroy, the Bearcats' top defender, was called for his second foul with 11:49 left while guarding Louisville star Reece Gaines. After the call, Logan was whistled for a technical foul, giving him two personal fouls.

        Both sat the rest of the half.

        Junior Leonard Stokes picked up his second foul with 7:54 remaining before intermission and went to the bench for the rest of the half. Stokes would go scoreless, missing all three of his field goal attempts.

        The lineup of mostly reserves led Cincinnati on an 11-2 run that gave the Bearcats' their largest lead at 36-25. But Louisville outscored them 9-2 in the final 4 1/2 minutes of the half.

        UC's streak of four straight victories at Freedom Hall came to an end.

        “I'm just so delighted for the players,” Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. “They needed a reward for their effort, and they didn't get it until tonight. Tonight they saw what all that hard work does for them.”

        NOTEWORTHY: ESPN.com reported that West Virginia interviewed Georgetown assistant Ronnie Thompson -- son of former Hoyas coach John Thompson -- for its vacant coaching position Tuesday. Though Huggins remains at the top of West Virginia's wish list, sources told ESPN.com that athletic director Ed Pastilong is also interested in Florida assistant John Pelphrey and North Carolina assistant Doug Wojcik, who played for former Xavier coach Skip Prosser at Wheeling Central Catholic High School.


CINCINNATI (71)


                          fg    ft    rb             
                   min   m-a   m-a   o-t   a  pf   tp
J Davis             37   1-4   0-0   3-6   0   2    2
I Mcelroy           24   3-5   4-4   2-2   0   3   11
D Little            25   3-9   0-0   2-7   0   4    6
L Stokes            18   0-3   0-4   2-4   2   5    0
S Logan             28  7-22   2-3   0-1   2   2   18
F Williams          27  5-10   2-3   2-5   3   0   13
T Barker            14   2-3   2-2   1-1   1   2    8
R Flowers            3   1-1   0-0   1-1   0   0    2
R Crawford           9   0-0   1-2   0-0   0   1    1
J Maxiell           15   4-9   2-2   2-6   1   4   10


_____________________________________________________
TOTALS             200 26-66 13-20 15-33   9  23   71
_____________________________________________________


Percentage: FG-.394, FT-.650. 3-Point Goals: 
6-17, .353 (J Davis 0-1, I Mcelroy 1-1, S 
Logan 2-8, F Williams 1-4, T Barker 2-3). 
Team Rebounds: 1. Blocked Shots: 3 (D Little 
2, L Stokes). Turnovers: 7 (T Barker 3, S 
Logan 2, R Crawford, L Stokes). Steal: 7 (I 
Mcelroy 3, J Davis, L Stokes, F Williams, J 
Maxiell).


LOUISVILLE (74)


                          fg    ft    rb             
                   min   m-a   m-a   o-t   a  pf   tp
E Myles             33   6-8   6-9  4-12   0   1   18
J N'Sima            21   3-4   0-0   0-7   0   3    6
B Northern          34  3-11   2-3   0-3   1   3    8
R Gaines            27  8-14  9-10   0-0   1   4   26
L O'Bannon          32   1-3   5-6   1-5   5   3    7
A Mohammed           6   1-1   0-0   0-0   1   1    2
S Naydenov           2   0-0   0-0   0-1   0   0    0
L Whitehead         20   1-2   0-0   0-3   4   4    2
E Brown             19   2-6   0-0   1-3   0   0    5
O George             6   0-1   0-0   1-1   0   1    0


_____________________________________________________
TOTALS             200 25-50 22-28  7-35  12  20   74
_____________________________________________________


Percentage: FG-.500, FT-.786. 3-Point Goals: 
2-9, .222 (B Northern 0-5, R Gaines 1-2, L 
O'Bannon 0-1, E Brown 1-1). Team Rebounds: 2.
Blocked Shots: 6 (J N'Sima 3, E Myles, L 
Whitehead, E Brown). Turnovers: 15 (E Myles 
3, L O'Bannon 3, R Gaines 2, A Mohammed 2, J 
N'Sima 2, L Whitehead, B Northern, O George).
Steal: 2 (E Brown, L O'Bannon).


-----------------------------------
CINCINNATI           38  33   -  71
LOUISVILLE           34  40   -  74
----------------------------------- 


Technical fouls: None. A: 19,822. Officials: Mark 
Whitehead, Tom O'neill


       

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