Wednesday, February 4, 2004
Hicks' effort not enough
Sophomore records 10 points, 8 blocks - and disappointment
By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer
In the postgame news conference, after UC lost by two points to Xavier on Tuesday night, Bearcats guard Tony Bobbitt praised the play of teammate Eric Hicks.
"Eric played a hell of a game," Bobbitt said. "He stepped up."
"But we didn't win," said Hicks, sitting next to Bobbitt at the press table.
Xavier won the Crosstown Shootout over UC 71-69 at Cintas Center.
Hicks, a sophomore from Greensboro (N.C.) Dudley High School, had one of the best games of his UC career.
But he wasn't happy because of the loss to rival Xavier, the second in a row for the Bearcats.
Asked how he felt about his individual game, Hicks said: "All right. But it's not about me. It's about the team."
Hicks had 10 points, a team-high nine rebounds and a career-high eight blocked shots.
But he was upset with himself for missing two of his last three free throw attempts.
"I missed free throws down the stretch," he said.
Hicks' ninth rebound came on the offensive end with 2:14 remaining on a miss by James White. But Hicks missed his first free throw before making his second to give UC its second-to-last lead at 67-66.
After Xavier went back ahead 68-67 on two foul shots by Romain Sato, Hicks was fouled going to the basket by Xavier's Justin Cage. But Hicks missed the first of his one-and-one free throw attempt.
UC had an 11-point first half lead, and letting XU back into the game ate at Hicks.
"We've got to put people away," he said. "We didn't put them away."
Hicks' eight blocked shots were the most for a UC player since Kenyon Martin had 10 in 2000.
The eight blocks also tied Hicks for second on the UC single-game list with Martin and George Wilson (1963-64).
The UC record is 10, held by three players in four games (Martin, twice; Rick Roberson and Jim Ard once each).
Hicks averaged 6.7 blocked shots a game as a high school senior and had 16 blocks this season coming into the Xavier game.
Hicks, though he didn't start, played 28 minutes and was in the middle of one of the biggest plays of the game.
Hicks came off the man he was guarding, Justin Doellman, to double-team Lionel Chalmers with less than 30 seconds remaining and UC clinging to a 69-68 lead.
Chalmers dribbled away from UC's Armein Kirkland, leaving Hicks as the closest defender to Chalmers.
"Armein got screened," Hicks said. "I didn't want (Chalmers) to get an open look. He stepped back and made the shot."
UC is now 15-3, having lost three of their last five games under coach Bob Huggins.
"We got caught up in the hype," Hicks said. "We lost our swagger. We don't listen to Huggs. We've got to listen to Huggs."
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