CHARLOTTE (7-8, 2-2): Coming off their first win of the new year, Charlotte traveled to Birmingham on Tuesday to face the Blazers of UAB. Junior guard DEMON BROWN put on a show for the five thousand fans in attendance as he hit a school record 9-three pointers and scored a career high 32 points in a 78-58 win. Returning home on Saturday, the 49ers were in a prime position to knock off 21st-ranked Marquette. Leading by 5 points at the half, Charlotte allowed the Eagles to rally late in the game and lost 67-64. This week, the 49ers will visit Cincinnati on Saturday as they continue league play.
CINCINNATI (11-3, 4-0): The Bearcats, who had won 6 of their last 7 games overall, took the streak into Saint Louis on Wednesday for a nationally televised game on ESPN2. Playing the entire game after coach BOB HUGGINS ordered him to become more assertive on the court, senior guard LEONARD STOKES recorded a season-high 25 points to go with his 7 rebounds and 5 assists in a 66-56 win. UC returned to the Shoemaker Center on Saturday as they hosted Tulane. Stokes put up big numbers again, scoring 30 and grabbing 7 rebounds as Cincinnati forced 20 Green Wave turnovers and took out Tulane 77-54. Now is the Bearcats time to prove to the nation that they have not dropped out of the C-USA radar as their next 5 games include a trip to East Carolina and back-to-back games against two of the American Division's best in Marquette and Louisville.
DEPAUL (10-4, 2-1): On Tuesday, DePaul hosted TCU in the first C-USA game in the Allstate Arena this season. Deadlocked at 29 at the half, senior forward SAM HOSKIN scored 17 of his 20 points in the second period, and the Blue Demons slipped past the Frogs 71-65. On Sunday afternoon, in came the Pirates of East Carolina. In a terrible shooting display in which DePaul missed 26 of their 42 shots, the Demons found a way to pull out a win in the 55-42 final. This week, the Blue Demons have two very tough road games against nationally ranked teams in Louisville on Wednesday and Marquette on Saturday.
EAST CAROLINA (10-5, 1-3): With students camping outside Minges Coliseum two days prior to the game, anyone could tell that last Thursday's game with Louisville was not just another game. In the Five Stars Game of the Week which was the first nationally broadcast game in 8 seasons in Greenville, the Pirates came out flat against a solid Cardinal team that shot the lights out of the ball. Although junior guard DERRICK WILEY scored 21 points, it wasn't enough as Louisville took control of the tempo and won 87-70. On Sunday, the Pirates took a trip to Rosemont to take on DePaul. Shooting only 31% from the field for the game, ECU could not stay in the contest and lost 55-42. This week, the Pirates take on Cincinnati on Wednesday and South Florida on Saturday. Both games are in North Carolina.
LOUISVILLE (12-1, 4-0): Last season, UofL could only manage 3 wins away from the friendly confines of Freedom Hall. On Thursday, the Cardinals were looking for their fourth of this fledgling season as they traveled to a sold-out Minges Coliseum to face the Pirates of East Carolina. Led by seniors MARVIN STONE and REECE GAINES scoring a combined 45 points and the team shooting an incredible 58 percent for the game, the Cards took out the hostile crowd and won 87-70. On Saturday, the Cards returned to the Bluegrass State, just 36 hours after the win at ECU, to "Take care of business" as coach RICK PITINO mentioned in an 87-74 victory over TCU. Although the Cards committed 24 turnovers, they forced 23 on TCU. This week, DePaul comes to town on Wednesday, and Louisville takes a league-play detour when they visit Knoxville on Saturday to take on Tennessee.
MARQUETTE (12-3, 4-1): On Tuesday, the Golden Eagles took the trip south to New Orleans on Tuesday as they took on Tulane. Junior guard DWYANE WADE was on fire against the Green Wave, scoring a season-high 35 points and collecting a solid 5 rebounds as Marquette downed the Wave 85-73. Heading back on the road on Saturday, the Eagles traveled to Charlotte, a place where Marquette has not won a game in their last eight tries. Knowing a win would break the streak and keep MU in the Top 25, the Eagles took it to the 49ers, winning 67-64. Marquette owned the rebounding war 37-29, which was the key stat in this one as both teams struggled shooting-wise. This week, Marquette has some time off before they host the Blue Demons of DePaul on Saturday.
SAINT LOUIS (6-9, 0-4): On Wednesday, in the Three Stars Game of the Week, Cincinnati came into the Savvis Center to take on the Billikens. Senior guard MARQUE PERRY had team-highs 20 points and 4 assists, but SLU fell to the Bearcats 66-56, in a game where there were only 15 total turnovers combined by both teams. On Saturday, the Billikens were looking to turn their three-game losing streak as they traveled to Houston. Shooting the ball 20 more times than the Cougars, Saint Louis could only manage to make two more field goals as the Bills lost the game on the free throw line where Houston outscored them 21-6 in a 72-59 loss. This week, in their only game, the Bills host Memphis on Saturday afternoon as the rough part of their schedule begins.
ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM (11-4, 3-1): On Tuesday, Charlotte came to town for an interdivisional match-up with the Blazers. Junior guard MORRIS FINLEY, the conference's 2nd-leading scorer, averaging 18 points a game, was held to a lackluster 12 in a 78-58 loss to the 49ers. Trying to stay perfect in the National Division, UAB played host to Southern Miss on Saturday. Led by freshman forward DEMARIO EDDINS and his 15 points and 5 assists, coupled with 58% field goal shooting, the Blazers were able to hold off the Golden Eagles 84-71. This Saturday, UAB travels to the Big Easy to take on the Green Wave of Tulane.
HOUSTON (3-10, 1-1): With a week off after losing to UAB last Saturday, Houston looked to stop their seven-game losing streak as they hosted Saint Louis. Trailing by 3 points at the half, sophomore guard ANDRE OWENS led the charge with 28 points (including hitting 9 of 9 at the free throw line) as the Cougars outscored the Billikens 42-26 in the second frame in a 72-59 blowout. The Cougars, at 1-1 in conference play, still have a chance to shake up the National Division, but must do so quickly as road games against Memphis and Southern Miss loom this week.
MEMPHIS (10-4, 1-2): After their loss at Southern Miss last Saturday broke the Tigers 6-game winning streak, Memphis returned home on Saturday to face the Bulls of South Florida, whom they had beaten seven straight times. Senior forward CHRIS MASSIE had another double-double with 22 points and 14 rebounds, but the Tigers fell late in the game, coming up on the short end of the 75-74 score. Memphis shot an unimpressive 38% from the field and 28% from three-point land. This week, Houston visits the Pyramid on Wednesday and the Tigers travel to Saint Louis on Saturday.
SOUTH FLORIDA (9-6, 2-2): On Tuesday, the Bulls looked to extend their winning streak over Southern Miss in the series to 6 straight games when the Eagles came to Tampa. Junior guard JIMMY BAXTER scored 20 points and pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds as the Bulls pulled away in the second half with a 74-65 win. On Saturday, USF traveled to Graceland to take on the Tigers of Memphis. In a game where 4 Bulls scored in double figures, led by Baxter's 21, the Bulls' defense was the key late in the game as they stopped a desperate chance by Memphis late in the game in a 75-74 win. This week, the Bulls have the tough task of traveling to East Carolina on Saturday evening in their only game of the week.
SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI (9-6, 2-2): Coming off a big win against Memphis last Saturday, the Golden Eagles visited Tampa to take on South Florida Tuesday evening. Junior guard GREG JOHNSON led the Southern Miss charge with his 27 points and 11 rebounds, but the Eagles succumbed to the Bulls in a 74-65 game. Still looking to get their first road win of the season, the Eagles traveled to UAB on Saturday. Junior forward CHARLES GAINES recorded 14 rebounds with his game-high 19 points, but once again, USM lost 84-71. This week, the Eagles return to Hattiesburg on Saturday as National Division member Houston comes to town.
TEXAS CHRISTIAN (6-9, 0-4): The Horned Frogs were looking to bounce back from their loss last weekend to Cincinnati in Fort Worth with a trip to Rosemont, IL on Tuesday to face DePaul. Ending the first half on a 10-0 run to tie the game, the Frogs battled from behind in the second half with senior guard JUNIOR BLOUNT's 25 points, but it wasn't enough as the Blue Demons pulled out the 71-65 win. On Saturday, the Frogs visited one of the nation's hottest teams as they traveled to Louisville. In an extremely sloppy game, nearly half of TCU's first half points came from the free throw line as the teams combined for 54 fouls in the game. Senior forward JAMAL BROWN led the team with 9 rebounds, but it wasn't enough as Louisville used a second half run to hold off the Frogs 87-74. This week, TCU hosts Tulane on Wednesday before going on the road out-of-conference as they play Creighton on Super Bowl Sunday.
TULANE (7-9, 0-3): On Tuesday, the Green Wave hosted Marquette in the
Two Stars Game of the Week. Even though senior guard WAITARI MARSH scored an
impressive 30 points (27 in the second half), Marquette and guard DWYANE WADE
won the shootout 85-73. On Saturday, the Green Wave traveled to the Queen's
City to take on the physical Bearcats of Cincinnati. Senior forward BRANDON
BROWN scored 13 points and hauled 11 rebounds, but it wasn't enough as
Cincinnati pulled away in the second half and won 77-54. This week, the Wave
rolls into Fort Worth on Wednesday for a game against TCU, and returns back home
on Saturday for a game against National Division leader UAB.
PATRICK CRUSH'S FIVE-STAR GAMES OF THE WEEK
FIVE STARS: DePaul (10-4, 2-1) vs. Marquette (12-3, 4-1) (Saturday, 2:00 PM)
FOUR STARS: Louisville (12-1, 4-0) vs. Tennessee (8-4, 1-2) (Saturday, 5:00 PM)
THREE STARS: Cincinnati (11-3, 4-0) vs. East Carolina (10-5, 1-3) (Wednesday, 7:00 PM)
TWO STARS: Texas Christian (6-9, 0-4) vs. Creighton (15-1, 6-0) (Sunday, 3:05 PM)
ONE STAR: Memphis (10-4, 1-2) vs. Saint Louis (6-9, 0-4) (Saturday, 2:10 PM)