Bearcats roll past Marquette

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 24, 2000

The Associated Press

The Bearcats jumped to a 27-point halftime lead, but they allowed two big runs by the Golden Eagles in the second half.

Monday, January 24, 2000

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The Bearcats jumped to a 27-point halftime lead, but they allowed two big runs by the Golden Eagles in the second half. Marquette trailed 58-49 with five minutes to play but couldn’t get any closer.

”We didn’t do our jobs in the second half, and we nearly paid for it,” said Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins. ”The hardest part for these young guys is learning to play 40 minutes every night and give a complete effort. We’re not doing it yet.”

Cincinnati’s season-long pattern of quick starts and sloppy finishes continued. With relentless defense and dominating inside play, Cincinnati jumped out to a 23-2 lead after 12 minutes and led 39-12 at halftime, holding Marquette to 4-of-26 shooting.

But the Golden Eagles opened the second half with a 22-6 run of their own, bringing the crowd roaring into the game. Cincinnati survived with offense from Steve Logan and Pete Mickeal, who finished with 13 points apiece.

Tate, the only Cincinnati starter without a double-digit scoring average, led five Bearcats in double figures. Leading scorer Kenyon Martin had just 10 points but blocked three shots.

Brian Wardle scored 24 of his 28 points in the second half to lead Marquette.

”I wouldn’t say we relaxed in the second half,” Martin said. ”Brian Wardle made a lot of shots. If you’re down 27, you just lay it out on the line, and that’s what they did.”

The Bearcats (18-1, 6-0 C-USA) remained undefeated in conference play, while Marquette (11-6, 4-2) lost for just the second time in eight games, with both defeats coming against Cincinnati.

”I don’t think we did nearly anything that we practiced to do defensively,” Marquette coach Tom Crean said. ”I was pleased with our effort in the second half, but it wasn’t enough.”

Defending with tremendous intensity and passing with a fluidity Cincinnati hasn’t always shown this season, the Bearcats looked marvelous in the game’s first 12 minutes. Tate had 12 points in the first half.

”You can’t even put that first half into words,” Wardle said. ”It was unbelievable.”

Cincinnati made its opening run without a basket from Martin, who got in foul trouble and received a technical foul as well.

Martin picked up his third foul with 2:19 left in the first half, and he received a technical for protesting. After giving Martin a tongue-lashing, Huggins put Martin on the bench and left him there to start the second half.

”I said something I shouldn’t have said, and I paid for it,” Martin said.

”Kenyon has not had a lot of psychology classes,” Huggins said. ”He’s a little deficient in that area.”

Wardle scored 13 points in the first seven minutes of the second half as the Golden Eagles suddenly came to life. Marquette trailed just 45-34 with 11:50 to play before a 10-2 Cincinnati run, capped by a 3-pointer from Mickeal, appeared to take the Bearcats out of danger.

But Marquette came back again and cut Cincinnati’s lead to single digits with less than six minutes to play. But the Golden Eagles went four straight possessions without a score, and the Bearcats hit their free throws.

If Marquette is to keep alive its streak of beating Cincinnati once in each of the past six seasons, the Golden Eagles will have to upset the Bearcats in the Conference USA tournament in March.

The Bearcats hit six of their first eight shots, making the kind of early run that has turned most of their games into laughers this year. Logan’s third 3-pointer with 13:43 left in the first half made it 17-2.

With first place in Conference USA on the line and the Golden Eagles playing some of their best basketball in years, Marquette expected a near-sellout at the Bradley Center. But the game’s 8:30 p.m. CST starting time on a Sunday meant large blocks of empty seats in the arena’s upper bowl.