Around C-USA: Weekly Update December 8-15

Inside theVille special features writer Patrick Crush takes a look at last week's Conference USA basketball action and gives you this week's Inside theVille 5 star games to watch for.

AMERICAN DIVISION

CHARLOTTE (3-3, 0-0): After an eight day layoff from their game last weekend against Davidson, the 49ers came out and snatched a win from a tough Miami, Florida team as Charlotte beat the Hurricanes 69-64 to secure the lead in the all-time series between the two schools with 4-2 record. DEMON BROWN of Charlotte had 15 points in the game, but it was a 3-point basket he made in the final minute to control the game. With the win, Charlotte improved their home court record this season at the Halton Arena to a perfect 3-0.

CINCINNATI (4-2, 0-0): Having a full week to rest after the 6-point loss to Xavier last weekend, the Bearcats hosted LaSalle last Saturday. Though they never trailed the entire length of the game, UC held on for a 65-62 victory. Sophomore JASON MAXIELL enjoyed his best night of this early season, tallying 18 points and 12 rebounds in his 4th career double-double game. This week, the Bearcats have a national television appearance against Oregon in the Jimmy V Classic at the Meadowlands.

DEPAUL (4-1, 0-0): On Tuesday, the Blue Demons improved to 4-0 for the first time in 12 seasons with a convincing win against Ohio University, 73-65. SAM HOSKIN, who had 8 rebounds to go with his 20 points, went 6-6 from the free throw line in the final minutes to seal the victory. On Saturday in the "four stars" game of the week, the Demons dropped for the first time of the season at 10th ranked Notre Dame, 102-71. MATT CARROLL for the Irish scored 33 in the game as DePaul could only manage shooting 36 percent from the field compared to the 60 percent performance by Notre Dame.

EAST CAROLINA (7-0, 0-0): With the conference's only unbeaten located in Greenville, the Pirates showed an impressive effort against Virginia Tech last Monday evening, beating the Hokies of the Big East 76-60. Senior TRAVIS HOLCOMB-FAYE was honored before the game as being the all-time assist leader at ECU, while sophomore MOUSSA BADIANE broke a school record during the game with his 103rd career blocked shot. On Saturday, ECU matched the schools best start ever with a 90-62 rout at home against Mount Olive College. BELTON RIVERS had a team-high 21-point performance in the win.

LOUISVILLE (3-1, 0-0): Coach RICK PITINO scheduled an exhibition game last Wednesday against the One-World All Stars. In the 132-83 victory, junior college transfer KENDALL DARTEZ scored 29 points and pulled down 16 rebounds in the win. However, the main story at Freedom Hall that night was the show put on by former Florida guard TEDDY DUPAY, who had a game-high 45 points off his 11-14 3-point shooting display. On Saturday, the Cards took a trip northeast to play Seton Hall in the Continental Airlines Arena. The Pirates had a 33-21 lead with six minutes to play in the first half, but Louisville answered with a 33-3 run that lasted well into the second frame. REECE GAINES, the C-USA Player of the Week, had 23 points, 7 assists, and 3 rebounds to lead the Cardinals in their first true road game of the year.

MARQUETTE (6-1, 0-0): In the 16th ranked Golden Eagles' only game of the week, Big Ten foe Wisconsin came into the Bradley Center for the "five stars" spotlight game of the week. Trailing 29-28 at the half and taking control throughout the second frame, MU sophomore TODD TOWNSEND took the life out of the Badgers with an off-balanced, one-handed 3-point shot with the shot clock expiring to put the Eagles up 44-37. Senior DWYANE WADE had a team-high 25 points as Marquette broke Wisconsin's 14-game win streak against in-state schools in a 63-54 final.

SAINT LOUIS (3-3, 0-0): The Billikens waited a full week to return to the court last Saturday against Dayton for a chance to get to the .500 mark along with their second straight victory. SLU did just that with their 63-55 win over the Flyers at the Savvis Center in Saint Louis. Senior guard MARQUE PERRY recorded 21 points and his teammate DREW DIENER popped in four 3-point field goals. Coach BRAD SODERBERG praised the defensive effort by his team and is looking for a turnaround from the rough early season losses.

NATIONAL DIVISION

ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM (3-2, 0-0): With no games this week due to semester exams, the Blazers will finish up the 2002 calendar year with a fairly light schedule before the conference season approaches. UAB will play 3 games at home this week against Nicholls State, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, and Alabama A&M, respectively. Their biggest test comes a week from this Friday in the Sun Bowl Tournament in El Paso, Texas, where the Blazers open up against the Mountain West's Air Force Academy.

HOUSTON (2-4, 0-0): The Cougars' only game this past week was a trip on Monday to San Marcos, Texas to face the Bobcats of Southwest Texas State out of the Southland Conference. In yet another disappointing outcome for the Cougars, Houston dropped by a score of 68-59. The Cougars could only make 7 of their first 28 shots of the second half and shot a miserable 24 percent in that period. ANDRE OWENS led UH with 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 steals.

MEMPHIS (4-2, 0-0): The Tigers opened up a six-game stretch that includes four straight games against NCAA Tournament teams from last year, a road game with Arkansas, and Villanova to finish the non-conference slate in The Pyramid with a trip to Columbia, Missouri to face the nationally ranked Tigers of Mizzou on ESPN. The defending NIT champions started off slowly, giving Missouri a 15-0 run to start the game, and never fully recovered in the 93-78 loss. Reserve BILLY RICHMOND scored a game-high 22 points for Memphis, but most of those came after the game was already decided.

SOUTH FLORIDA (4-2, 0-0): Coming off a tough loss to in-state opponent Florida in Gainesville last week, the Bulls traveled to Ohio to take on Wright State last Saturday and suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Raiders, 69-68. Coach SETH GREENBERG called the loss "a disappointing result" as foul trouble pestered the road team the entire game. Junior forward JIMMY BAXTER poured in 27 points in the losing effort. The Bulls must pull it together quickly because this Saturday they take on one of the Big Ten's best in Michigan State at the always-rocking "Izzones" in East Lansing.

SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI (5-2, 0-0): After finishing runner-up in the Gazette-Hawkeye Challenge in Iowa City last weekend, the Golden Eagles returned to Hattiesburg this past Saturday to face Arkansas State. In the 64-48 loss, Southern Miss committed 26 turnovers and shot a season-low 35 percent from the field. The Indians took full advantage and stole the ball an amazing 15 times. However, the Eagles did out-rebound ASU 41-30. This week, the Golden Eagles take a trip to the Bluegrass State to face Western Kentucky on Wednesday, and return home Saturday for their final game before Christmas against Arkansas-Little Rock.

TEXAS CHRISTIAN (4-3, 0-0): The Horned Frogs traveled to Denton, Texas on Tuesday for a match-up with the Mean Green of North Texas. In the 87-80 win, three TCU players lit up the scoreboard with at least 20 points, led by guard JUNIOR BLOUNT with 24. The Frogs returned to Fort Worth on Saturday and received a blow from Louisiana-Monroe, losing 90-79. Forward CHUDI CHINWEZE led TCU in scoring with 18 points, but the Horned Frogs were outplayed in a big way by the Indians, who shot a solid 53 percent from the field for the game.

TULANE (3-5, 0-0): This past Tuesday, the Green Wave hosted the Wildcats of Kentucky in the Superdome, home of this year's SEC Tournament and the NCAA Final Four. Kentucky handled Tulane by a score of 76-60. Head coach SHAWN FINNEY got the Wildcats to come down to New Orleans because he had served as an assistant coach to UK's TUBBY SMITH before taking the main job at Tulane. The Green Wave players now get a break, at least from basketball. Final exams at Tulane take place over a period of nine days, including grueling exams on Saturdays and Sundays.

FIVE-STAR GAMES OF THE WEEK

FIVE STARS: Oregon (6-0, 0-0) vs. Cincinnati (4-2, 0-0) (Tuesday, 9:00 PM)

FOUR STARS: DePaul (4-1, 0-0) vs. Saint Joseph's (6-0, 0-0) (Saturday, 4:30 PM)

THREE STARS: South Florida (4-2, 0-0) vs. Michigan State (5-2, 0-0) (Saturday, 1:00 PM)

TWO STARS: Cincinnati (4-2, 0-0) vs. Clemson (5-0, 0-0) (Sunday, 5:30 PM)

ONE STAR: Eastern Kentucky (5-1, 0-0) vs. Louisville (3-1, 0-0) (Tuesday, 6:00 PM)


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