By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer
HOUSTON - Four days after playing one of the best games of his career against Xavier, University of Cincinnati forward Eric Hicks had trouble getting off the bench Saturday in UC's win over Houston.
Hicks, who had averaged 8.7 points and 6.3 rebounds over his previous six games, played only nine minutes against the Cougars. He scored three points, missed four of five free throws and failed to get a rebound.
Cincinnati's Eric Hicks (14) is fouled by Houston's Ramon Dyer, left.
"Eric wasn't as good as he was the other day," UC coach Bob Huggins said. "He just wasn't active."
Sophomore forward Armein Kirkland, who said earlier in the week that his injured left knee was improving, did not play at all.
"He couldn't help us," Huggins said. "You can't limp around and play this game."
FEELING BETTER: After scoring a career-high 17 points, UC center Robert Whaley was feeling better about being at UC but said he doesn't regret saying last week that he sometimes wishes he had gone elsewhere.
"I never regret anything that I say," Whaley said. "I try not to say things that I don't mean. I can't say that I feel that way right now. I felt that way in the past. Now I'm looking forward to the future.
"My teammates just encouraged me to have a different outlook. I've just got to do it (Huggins') way. I've got to be the player he wants me to be and not the player that I think I could be."
FIGHTING CANCER: Huggins wore white basketball shoes on the sideline Saturday to join other coaches calling attention to their Coaches vs. Cancer campaign.
TOUGH WEEK: Houston's three-point loss came on the heels of a triple-overtime loss to Southern Miss last Tuesday.
"Cincinnati kept coming at us, but we didn't back down," Houston coach Ray McCallum said.
SUPPORT FOR UC: About 250 of the crowd that was announced at 4,268 were UC fans, many of them friends and family members of the five UC players who hail from Texas.
NOTES: UC failed to make a field goal for the first 3:19 of the game. Combined with Tuesday's game against Xavier, when the Bearcats were stymied for the final 6:30, they went 9:49 without a field goal. ... Houston has lost 21 straight games to Top 25 teams since beating Memphis in 1996. ... The 28 points UC scored in the first half were its lowest first-half output of the season, and its 54 points for the game were its lowest of the season.
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