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Cincy pulls away from 'outmanned' Pirates

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CINCINNATI — Tony Bobbitt made just two shots all night, but they came at the right time for Cincinnati and the wrong time for East Carolina.

A pair of 3-pointers by Bobbitt in the span of a half-minute sparked the No. 8 Bearcats to an 80-57 victory Wednesday night over ECU.

The Pirates, who have never won a road game in Conference USA since joining the league three years ago, took advantage of Cincinnati's slow start to stay within 10 points until Bobbitt's 3-pointers gave the Bearcats a 26-13 lead with 8:08 left in the half.

Up to that point, Cincinnati had missed 11 of its first 15 shots. But Bobbitt's shots started a 16-4 run, and East Carolina did not hit another field goal for 5½ minutes.

"It's hard to be at the top of your game every time out, and I understand that," said Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins, whose team initially was flustered by East Carolina's zone defense. "We really haven't seen a lot of zone. Tonight we had a 40-minute chance to work on our zone offense."

The outcome was a far cry from last season, when Cincinnati beat East Carolina twice by a combined total of seven points.

"Cincinnati is a much improved team from a year ago, a much more explosive team," East Carolina coach Bill Herrion said. "We had no options. We had to play 40 minutes of zone. We were outmanned, but I think our guys played hard."

With linchpin senior forward Gabriel Mikulas out for the season with a broken arm and another key frontcourt player, Corey Rouse, sidelined with a concussion, outmanned might be an understatement to describe the still-persistent Pirates.

A steal at midcourt by James White in the closing seconds, and his slam dunk off a breakaway drive, gave Cincinnati a 43-25 lead at halftime.

The Bearcats returned to their sluggish ways in the second half, scoring just six points in the first six minutes. But a worn-down East Carolina could not challenge, and a jumper by Jason Maxiell with seven minutes remaining gave Cincinnati its biggest lead at 72-42.

White finished with 15 points for Cincinnati (15-1, 6-1 CUSA). Maxiell had 14, and Robert Whaley 10.

Derrick Wiley had 18 points for East Carolina (8-8, 0-6), which has lost seven straight. Mike Cook added 14.

"They (Cincinnati) are good, and I don't think we played that bad, as crazy as that sounds," Herrion said.

Cincinnati's pressing defense forces an average of 22 turnovers a game, and had 11 in the first half. But with the game well in hand, the Bearcats backed off in the second half, getting just three more.

Since an embarrassing 27-point loss to conference leader Louisville a week ago, Cincinnati has beaten up on a couple of second-division teams in the conference, first swamping Southern Mississippi by 36 points.

East Carolina is 0-6 on the road this season, and 0-for-15 on a string that dates to last season. Inside the league, the Pirates have lost 20 road games in a row.

The next challenge for ECU will be in the friendlier confines of Williams Arena and the foe will be a little less daunting, with DePaul paying a visit on Saturday for a game at 7 p.m.


Cincinnati 80, East Carolina 57

Records: East Carolina 8-8, 0-6; Cincinnati 15-1, 6-1.

Player             FG      FT     PTS

Bing             2-11     2-5       6
Badiane           2-2     2-3       6
Rivers            2-9     0-0       6
Wiley            6-18     4-8      18
Cook             6-10     2-4      14
Robinson          2-6     2-2       7
McNeil            0-2     0-0       0
Mackay            0-3     0-0       0
Grindley          0-0     0-0       0
Totals          20-61   12-21      57

Player             FG      FT     PTS

White             6-9     1-2      15
Maxiell          6-13     2-3      14
Johnson           3-3     2-5       8
F. Williams      2-10     0-0       6
N. Williams       2-5     1-4       6
Moore             2-4     0-0       5
Meeker            1-1     0-0       2
Bobbitt           2-6     0-0       6
Kirkland          3-7     1-2       8
Whaley           2-10     6-9      10
Totals          29-68   13-25      80

Halftime: Cincinnati 43-25.

3-point goals: East Carolina 5-22 (Wiley 2-3, Rivers 2-9, Robinson 1-2, Cook 0-1, McKeil 0-1, Mackay 0-2, Bing 0-4); Cincinnati 9-25 (White 2-3, Bobbitt 2-6, F.Williams 2-9, Moore 1-2, Kirkland 1-2, N.Williams 1-3).

Fouled out: Bobbitt.

Rebounds: East Carolina 42 (Wiley 13); Cincinnati 45 (Johnson 12).

Assists: East Carolina 6 (Wiley, McNeil 2); Cincinnati 21 (Bobbitt 4).

Total fouls: East Carolina 19, Cincinnati 19.


Attendance: 12,098.

02/23/07 11:01 AM

From Associated Press reports with staff contributions. Copyright 2004. All rights rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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