By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The last time the University of Cincinnati won a game against Marquette in Milwaukee's Bradley Center, the Bearcats were led by national player of the year Kenyon Martin and were ranked No. 1 in the country.
That was in 2000 and although three years may not seem so long, it seems like an eternity to guard Field Williams, who's in his fourth and final season at UC and has never won at Marquette.
"I just want to win so bad," Williams said Monday. "I don't want to end my career not winning at Marquette."
In fact, there are no players on the UC roster who know what it's like to walk off the floor before that big crowd at the Bradley Center feeling the glow of victory.
Many of them do, however, remember how they felt last March after surrendering a four-point halftime lead and losing to the Golden Eagles in the game that clinched the Conference USA regular-season championship for Marquette.
The Bearcats, who had won the first seven C-USA titles, had known they would not repeat, but to be there when Marquette clinched, and to have to witness the ensuing celebration, made the loss sting a little more.
"Every team that plays us, if they get a win, they're going to celebrate like they've won the Super Bowl," Williams said.
The rematch is Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Bradley Center and this time 10th-ranked UC (11-0, 2-0 C-USA) has the upper hand, at least on paper, over No. 21 Marquette (11-2, 2-0).
The Bearcats are playing as well as they have since that 1999-00 season, blowing out their opponents by an average margin of 26.2 points, which leads the nation.
Now they can show the nation how good they are in their first national TV appearance of the season against a team that gained the Final Four last season.
"There might be somebody in the country that's as good as they are defensively," Marquette coach Tom Crean said of UC, "but I haven't seen anybody that's better."
But don't expect Marquette to back down. More than most league teams, the Golden Eagles have stood up to UC over the years.
UC has lost 25 games since the league's inception in 1995 and eight of those have been against Marquette, including five of the last seven. No other team has won more games over the Bearcats in C-USA.
UC coach Bob Huggins attributed the Golden Eagles' recent dominance to good players, good coaching and the ability to make big shots. Williams also cited determination.
"They just get geared up to play us," Williams said. "I don't know where they get the energy from but every time they play us on their home court, they give it all up."
UC plans to match the Golden Eagles in that department this time. There's still a feeling among the Bearcats that the league championship rightfully belongs to them.
"I'm leaving it all on the floor," said UC guard Tony Bobbitt. "I know there's more people who are going to be for Marquette than there will be rooting for us, but it don't matter. We're going to play these boys. We'll see, man. We'll see."
Cautious Selig breaks silence
Pete Rose interview (Web exclusive!)
Expecting need for runs, Reds sign Vander Wal
Brock to run winter clinic
Clemens' return has family blessing
UC goal: Beat Marquette at Bradley
Doellman expected to play at Duquesne
UK has another unbeaten foe in sights
UConn still on top, Texas Tech and Creighton join Top 25
Top 25 roundup: Pitt survives scare from Notre Dame
MAC honors MU's Merrill, Mason; GLVC taps Myers
Top agent signs Miami QB Roethlisberger
Dolphins name Marino football operations VP
Colts' Pollard, Harrison mending
LeBeau to discuss job with Steelers
Cougars are leaving believers in their wake
Moeller, Mt. Notre Dame remain atop Div. I polls
Conner jumps to No. 4 in Kentucky boys' poll
Monday's Ohio games
Monday's Kentucky games
Prep sports results, schedules
MORE SPORTS HEADLINES
Sports on TV, radio