By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer
After Armein Kirkland frittered away one of the University of Cincinnati's final possessions of the first half, UC coach Bob Huggins sat on the bench with his head down. To his immediate right, associate head coach Dan Peters had his head buried in his hands.
Jason Maxiell slams over South Florida's Brian Graham Wednesday.|
(Jeff Swinger photo)
It was another one of those nights for the UC offense.
The 13th-ranked Bearcats (17-3 overall, 8-2 in Conference USA) managed to overcome an outmanned South Florida team 80-67 before 12,171 fans at Fifth Third Arena on Wednesday night, but again the UC offense sputtered.
A late flurry of baskets by Tony Bobbitt, who led UC with a season-high 26 points on 9-of-12 shooting, enabled the Bearcats to shoot a respectable 44.1 percent after a bad start.
UC shot only 59.3 percent (16 of 27) from the free throw line.
UC remained in a first-place tie with Memphis, which defeated East Carolina. Louisville, which plays at Charlotte tonight, is a half-game behind.
The Bearcats played without starting point guard Nick Williams, who sat on the bench with a sprained ankle. Bobbitt made his first career start in Williams' place.
James White shifted over from his forward spot to start the game at point guard.
UC's Field Williams continued to struggle with his shooting. He made 4 of 12 shots from the field.
USF (6-14, 0-9) played with only six scholarship players and three walk-ons. One of the walk-ons, senior Brian Graham, started at guard.
Still, the Bulls, who have now lost nine straight, managed to stay close through a good portion of the first half, and were ahead by a point with 11:14 left in the first half.
At that juncture, the Bearcats were just 3-for-11 from the field.
The Bearcats received an early boost from reserve point guard Chadd Moore, who scored six points in a span of 1:25 to send UC on a 9-0 run, giving the Bearcats an 18-12 lead.
USF recovered to get back within four with 7:42 left in the half, but UC outscored the Bulls 14-7 the rest of the half to take a 34-21 lead into intermission.
The Bearcats improved their shooting accuracy at the beginning of the second half, but Huggins became frustrated with their defense and called timeout with 16:38 left and UC leading 43-28 to substitute five new players.
But it didn't help.
Instead of extending the lead, the Bearcats saw USF come back to get within 10 points, 47-37, with 11:45 to go.
The Bulls trailed by only nine after a Bradley Mosley basket with 8:33 to go, but the Bearcats pulled away after that on a Field Williams trey, followed by two Bobbitt 3-pointers and a Kareem Johnson transition layup off a turnover to give UC a 62-45 lead with 7:31 left.
UC now faces one of the most crucial stretches of the season, with three games in six days, beginning Sunday at No. 20 Wake Forest. That's followed by a road game at Alabama-Birmingham on Wednesday, and a rematch with No. 9 Louisville a week from Saturday at Fifth Third Arena.
Team rebounds - 3.
Team rebounds - 3.
3-pointers - USF 9-17 (Leather 1-1, Swift 7-13, Mosley 1-3), Cincinnati 12-27 (White 1-3, F. Williams 3-10, Bobbitt 8-11, Moore -2, Kirkland 0-1). Technicals - None. Officials - Tom Eades, Bill Kennedy, Harrell Allen. Attendance - 12,171.
|USF ||21||46||- 67|
New man in Reds booth
Daugherty: Despite best efforts, Reds get it right
Pitchers Farnsworth, Mota, Ryan reach deals
Bearcats claw way past South Florida
State titles are equal, but is the playing field?
Sneed does it all in Newport victory
Cowboys make CHL a two-game season
LaSalle's McMahon lives up to name
Brown's big night carries Mariemont
Preps results, schedule
Nets lift interim coach to 9-0
Judge stands by ruling on Clarett
NASCAR teams trying to work out tire issues
Ingram leaves St. John's in wake of scandal
Hawks show they're Atlantic 10's best
Miami women extend victory streak to 7 games
RedHawks go cold in MAC East loss
No.6 Bulldogs outlast No.25 Gamecocks in OT
Sports today on TV, radio