By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer
COLUMBUS - Tony Bobbitt gets all the publicity for his contributions off the bench, but the work Eric Hicks contributes in a reserve role often goes unnoticed.
Hicks, a 6-foot-6 sophomore forward from Greensboro, N.C., made several crucial plays in the closing minutes of the University of Cincinnati's 80-77 victory over East Tennessee State on Friday.
He scored in the lane with 1:48 to go to pull UC even at 77, blocked a Zakee Wadood shot at the other end, then rebounded Bobbitt's missed shot to set up the ensuing game-winner.
He finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots.
"Eric has been doing that for us all year," Bobbitt said, "cleaning up garbage. We really appreciate what Eric does for us."
Hicks prefers to look at his role a little differently.
"My role is to do whatever it takes to win," Hicks said.
WILLIAMS HITS 1,000: Senior guard Field Williams became the 42nd player in UC history and the second this year to surpass the 1,000-point mark for his career.
Williams, who scored 19 points, has 1,014 points in his career.
Jason Maxiell passed the 1,000-point plateau against Memphis on March 6 and has 1,045 points, leaving him 39th on UC's career scoring list.
BIG LEAD: UC grabbed an 11-0 lead in the first two-plus minutes while East Tennessee State missed its first seven shots.
"When I first got on the court with them," said Wadood, who had 17 points and 14 rebounds, "they seemed like basically the same height as we were, but their arms are so long, plus they're very athletic and it took us a while to get adjusted to that. Once we got adjusted to their athleticism, we were able to attack them."
COSTLY TURNOVERS: UC, which averages only 12 turnovers, committed 17 Friday against ETSU, most in the halfcourt.
It was the most turnovers the Bearcats have committed since they had 21 in their loss to Alabama-Birmingham on Feb. 18.
"We've got to take better care of the ball," said UC coach Bob Huggins. "We just gave them too many easy baskets."
The Bucs scored 21 points off UC's turnovers.
WHALEY PLAYS: Robert Whaley played seven minutes Friday, his first action since rejoining the team after leaving temporarily. He made one of two shots for two points and added a rebound.
"I wanted to do whatever it took to win," Whaley said. "I said, 'Let me get in and rebound.' That's all I was focused on."
Whaley said he had no rust, having gotten over that in practice.
"I'll come along," he said. "I'm not worried about myself. I'm just concentrating on playing team ball."
DOUBLE DRIBBLES: UC blocked 11 shots, tying a season high set against Xavier on Feb. 3. ... The Bearcats' 32 3-point attempts set a school record for an NCAA Tournament game. ... East Tennessee State is 2-8 in the NCAA Tournament.
NCAA TOURNAMENT (Special section)
XU: Musketeers fight back to advance
Patient Sato picks his spots, hits his shots
UC: Bobbitt hits game-winner
Daugherty: Little guy not so little in Tourney
ETSU's Smith plays big
Hicks gets job done as Bearcats' stealth sub
UK: 'Cats pull away in 2nd half to win
Hayes just misses triple-double
Murray St. gets taste of Illini's Big Ten
Cowboys get Sutton's angry halftime message
Wolfpack uses defense to subdue Ragin' Cajuns
Pacific waves goodbye to 5th seed Providence
Maryland sets sights on 'Cuse's sharpshooter
Calhoun could do without matchup
NCAA Tournament at a glance
It's not exactly home, but it's close for the Buckeyes
Tournament chase is all about class
Team by team in the women's field
WNIT: Scoring drought ends MU's season
Victory sends Wilmington to title game
REDS / BASEBALL
Reds pitcher lost for season
2003 Reds finances may have finished in the black
Inside Reds camp
Lidle in Opening Day hunt
Aching Nixon, Garciaparra out of action for Red Sox
BENGALS / NFL
Bengals, Sapp close in on deal
It's official: Keyshawn, Parcells reunited
MND plays nation's top-ranked team for state title
C-J storms into Division I title game
Colonels discover that the 3 is king
Royals win one for the ages
Mason Co. pushed to the 3-OT brink
Prep sports results, schedules
Silver Minister, Bejarano aim to play spoiler
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Maruyama moves ahead
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