Saturday, December 18, 1999

Keys to victory




        CINCINNATI
        1. Make it a halfcourt game. It's not that UC can't run with Xavier. The Bearcats should take break opportunities where they can. Their greatest advantage is center Kenyon Martin, however, and feeding him the ball in the post causes problems the Musketeers defense may struggle to solve.

        2. Don't let Darnell Williams break out. Bearcats forward Pete Mickeal usually draws the toughest defensive assignment. With Williams struggling, that means Mickeal will likely take on Lloyd Price, so freshman DerMarr Johnson has to get the job done with Williams.

        3. Defense. Keep XU out of its pressure defense. It's hard to set up a fullcourt press if your team doesn't score. If the Bearcats can break down the Xavier offense by denying penetration to Price and Maurice McAfee, the Muskeeters may be forced to guard

        4. Rebound. UC has not taken advantage of its edge in size against several opponents. The forward spots are providing a combined 14.7 rebounds, down three from a year ago. Pete Mickeal has picked up in recent games, but the power forward spot has not.

        5. Kenyon Martin. Keep him out of foul trouble. This is essential for every big UC game. Martin has been careful not to waste fouls on baseline screens as he did his junior year, and he rarely challenges a shot until well after it leaves the shooter's hand. He's not had foul problems yet, but it's always possible.

        XAVIER
        1. Cut down turnovers: XU is averaging 19.9 turnovers a game. It had 22 last year against the Bearcats. That's probably too many to win a game like this. In the November 1996 victory at UC, Xavier has just 16 turnovers to 21 for the Bearcats. In the December '97 Musketeers' victory, they had 19 turnovers, but UC had 29.

        2. Rebound: Xavier outrebounded Miami and Central Michigan a combined 87-42 last week. But this is no Mid-American Conference opponent. The Musketeers gave up 21 offensive rebounds to UC last season, and the Bearcats know how to convert. XU can't allow second shots.

        3. Make outside shots: The Musketeers stayed in last year's game because Gary Lumpkin and Lenny Brown got hot from the perimeter, making a combined 8 of 14 shots from 3-point range. Maurice McAfee, Lloyd Price and Darnell Williams will need to have a similar showing.

        4. Darnell Williams: Xavier won't win with Williams playing the way he has been. He can't go 4-for-16 from the floor. He can't miss all his 3-point tries. Williams has to play solidly at both ends of the court. He is the most experienced XU player and his teammates will look to him for poise and big plays when needed.

        5. Free throws: XU missed nine foul shots in games against Miami, Louisville and Maryland-Eastern Shore, and seven against Kansas. It will need to shoot better than the team season free-throw percentage of .688.



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