Sunday, February 22, 2004

White scores high on defensive effort


Was only Bearcat to slow Cards' Garcia

By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer

James White scored only four points on 1-of-7 shooting, but the University of Cincinnati forward was instrumental in the Bearcats' 66-61 victory over Louisville on Saturday because of his defense.

PHOTO GALLERY
photo gallery
10 photos of Saturday's game
White was the only UC player who could stop Louisville's Francisco Garcia from scoring.

When White left the game with three fouls at the 15:49 mark of the second half, Garcia, who finished with a career-high 27 points, had scored only seven.

During the 10-plus minutes that White was out, Garcia scored 13.

White and Garcia are both listed at 6-foot-7.

"James has length," said UC coach Bob Huggins. "He's harder to shoot the ball over. Our plan was to use James and Armein (Kirkland), but the Armein experiment didn't work, so we went a little smaller."

SWEET REVENGE: The UC victory occurred one month to the day the Bearcats traveled to Louisville and lost to the Cardinals 93-66, matching the most lopsided loss in the 15-year Huggins coaching era.

"We were 13-0 and we went down there and lost," said UC's Eric Hicks. "That was our fist loss. We figured it was only right that we got back on track when they came up here. After the loss, a lot of players circled this game on their calendar."

The victory was UC's 18th, surpassing last year's win total of 17.

WORK PAYS OFF: The shot that UC's Field Williams made to send the game into overtime - coming off the dribble - was exactly the type of shot he spent extra time working on before practice Friday.

Williams was so elated that he ran over to ABC-TV commentator Dick Vitale to get some face time, thinking he had made a 3-pointer to win the game.

But his right foot was on the line.

"I thought it was a 3," Williams said, "but Coach came over and grabbed me and said it was a two."

Said Louisville coach Rick Pitino: "We did an excellent job when Field Williams made that shot. We doubled (Jason Maxiell) beautifully. We rotated beautifully and we challenged beautifully. He made a hell of a shot."

NO HEART: The UC players never bought that talk that they didn't have as much heart as previous UC teams.

"Huggs is going to say that just to get you motivated," Williams said. "That's what he tells you all so you all can write a story."

Said Hicks: "What team hasn't he said that to?"

WHITEHEAD OUT: Louisville played without senior forward Luke Whitehead, who burned UC with 18 points and eight rebounds in their first meeting this year.

"We knew he wasn't playing," Pitino said. "He didn't practice the last two days. He's got a mild ankle sprain."

NOTEWORTHY: UC is 3-2 this year against top 25 teams. ... The overtime game was the first for UC since March 17, 2002, when the Bearcats lost in double overtime in the NCAA Tournament to UCLA. It was their first overtime win since an 80-75 victory against Memphis on March 3, 2002.

---

E-mail: bkoch@enquirer.com




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• Nippert Stadium
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