By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Coaches can yell at players all day long. Teammates can offer advice. But sometimes a guy just has to hear the truth from his mom.
UC's Eric Hicks dunks the ball in the first half.
(Jeff Swinger photos)
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UC head coach Bob Huggins with an uncommon subdued posture.
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UC's Jason Maxiell takes a shot over Chattanoga's Aaron Morgan.
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UC's Chadd Moore looks for an open man.
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UC's Leonard Stokes throws one down.
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Chadd Moore, the University of Cincinnati's freshman point guard, can attest to that.
Moore's mother, Clara, buoyed her son's spirits last week during the Bearcats' brief Christmas break, telling him to keep working hard and eventually the playing time would come.
The time arrived Thursday, and Moore made the most of it. In his first start and first significant playing time for UC, Moore scored 12 points, recorded eight assists, pulled down five rebounds and committed three turnovers in 27 minutes.
With Moore running the offense, the Bearcats breezed past Chattanooga 81-51 before 10,290 fans at Shoemaker Center.
It was their largest offensive output of the season.
Field Williams led UC (7-3) with 17 points. Jason Maxiell had 12 points and 11 rebounds, his third double-double of the season.
But it was Moore who made the offense run more efficiently than it has at any time this season, with the exception of the Oregon game. The Bearcats shot 44.8 percent from the field, well above their 39.8 average.
"He played well for his first extended time," UC coach Bob Huggins said of Moore. "We got more easy baskets because he pushed it up and down the floor."
Moore, who had played a total of five minutes with no points and no assists before Thursday, earned the start because of his improved play in practice and because senior Taron Barker was sidelined with pain in his lower back.
The question now is whether Barker will regain his starting job when he's healthy or if Moore has become UC's starting point guard for the rest of the season.
"I was real comfortable," Moore said. "My teammates had confidence in me. I got the ball up and down the floor and got open people shots."
That's exactly what his mother had come to see. Clara Moore drove the six hours from Huntsville, Ala., to watch her son play, as she usually does. But this time, she said, "the drive was worth it."
"It's been a long time coming," she said. "I wouldn't say he was discouraged. He was just a little frustrated because he wasn't playing the way he thought he could. That's what I came to see."
Bearcats freshman forward Eric Hicks, who was late returning from Christmas break, also had his best game of the season, with 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots in 21 minutes.
"I feel a little bit better now," Hicks said. "When you get home and you get to be with your people, they talk to you. They say you aren't playing like you need to. Basically, it reflects on myself. I wasn't playing hard."
UC trailed 25-24 late in the first half before reeling off 17 unanswered points to take a 41-25 halftime lead.
"When they smelled blood, they went to another level," said Chattanooga coach Jeff Lebo, whose team fell to 9-3.
The Bearcats' defense held Chattanooga to 51 points, 30 below its average and to 32 percent shooting, 18 percent below its average. UC also forced 31 turnovers, the most by an opponent since the 1994-95 season.
But the Bearcats' defensive intensity was overshadowed by their offense, a rare occurrence this season.
There also was a lesson for UC's young players, who have been frustrated from time to time this season.
"You don't pout your way into playing time," Huggins said. "You earn playing time."
Team rebounds - 2.
Team rebounds - 1.
3-pointers-CH 9-23 (Champion 0-1, Trowell 0-2, Rogan 1-3, Richardson 5-7, Hood 3-8, Townsend 0-2), UC 4-22 (Stokes 0-2, Moore 0-1, Williams 4-13, Bobbitt 0-5, Kirkland 0-1). Officials-Ted Hillary, Terry Moore, Art McDonald. A-10,290.
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