By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Chadd Moore is about to get his long-awaited chance to run the University of Cincinnati offense.
Moore, a 6-foot-2 freshman from Huntsville, Ala., is expected to start at point guard tonight against Chattanooga in place of senior Taron Barker, who has practiced sparingly the past three days because of lower back pain.
Barker will be in uniform tonight and available to play.
While Barker was in the training room for treatment Wednesday, Moore ran the show with the first team in practice, eager not only for his first start, but his first significant playing time as a Bearcat.
Moore has played in only two games for a total of five minutes, with no points or assists.
Moore's first test won't be easy. Chattanooga, coached by former Tennessee Tech coach and North Carolina guard Jeff Lebo, is 9-2. The Mocs average 81.4 points per game, make 50 percent of their shots and will press for most of the game, making Moore's ballhandling skills crucial.
UC coach Bob Huggins, critical of Moore's play just a week ago, said he has seen vast improvement since Moore's return last week from the Bearcats' two-day Christmas break.
"He's playing real well," Huggins said. "He gets the ball up and down the floor for us. He does a nice job feeding the posts and seeing the floor."
The difference, Moore says, is a talk he had with his mother, Chara, when he went home for Christmas.
"It gave me time to think about what I was doing and what I wasn't doing," Moore said. "My mom told me to work hard and everything will be all right."
Moore, who averaged 8.0 points and 5.5 assists last year at Oak Hill Academy, was expected to make a major impact this season.But he got off to a slow start and was buried on the UC bench. As recently as last week, he was the third-string point guard behind Barker and Jamaal Lucas.
To complicate matters, Moore's grandmother died on Nov. 15 and he missed a week of practice.
Moore is considered a quicker, more athletic point guard than Barker, with the ability to penetrate defenses and set up his teammates.
Barker has been bothered by a sore back since before the Oregon game on Dec. 17. He has started every game this season, averaging 7.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists in 33.9 minutes.
UC's offense, with the exception of the Oregon game, has been stagnant all season, with the Bearcats' shooting only 39.8 percent.
Barker takes care of the ball. He's committed only 17 turnovers in nine games, but UC has had trouble getting points from its inside players.
How much of that is Barker's fault is debatable. But tonight, Moore gets the chance to show that he can do better.
"You ever heard of Willy Pipp?" Huggins asked, referring to the New York Yankee first baseman whose injury paved the way for Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig and his then-record 2,130 consecutive games streak.
Chattanooga at UC
Tipoff: 8:05 p.m. today, Shoemaker Center (13,176).
Records: Chattanooga (9-2), Cincinnati (6-3).
Radio: WLW-AM (700).
TV: Channel 19.
Line: UC by 15.
Coach: Jeff Lebo (9-2, first season; 84-45 overall)
Coach: Bob Huggins (338-103, 14th season; 506-175 overall)
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