AROUND CONFERENCE USA: JANUARY 27-
FEBRUARY 2, 2003
Countdown to 2003 Conference USA Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky: 6 weeks
CHARLOTTE (8-10, 3-4): On Wednesday evening, the 49ers hosted Saint Louis. Junior guard DEMON BROWN took over the game for Charlotte, scoring 24 points off 6 three-pointers in a 62-55 win over the Billikens. On Saturday, Charlotte traveled to Tampa to face South Florida. Up by 16 at one point in the first half, the Niners allowed a 25-9 second half run by the Bulls, and ended up losing 67-64. This week, Charlotte travels to Valparaiso and DePaul, trying to get back to .500 on the season.
CINCINNATI (13-5, 6-2): Coming off a win last weekend at home, the Bearcats took to the road on Wednesday as they faced DePaul. Being outrebounded 37-29 and with leading scorer LEONARD STOKES failing to reach double figures, UC fell 56-52. Looking to bounce back at home on Saturday against Marquette in the Four Stars Game of the Week, Cincinnati played an incomplete ballgame where the big men combined for only 4 baskets and 8 rebounds, as the Bearcats dropped their second straight game for the first time in two years, 82-76. This week, UC has a tough road game at Louisville on Wednesday, then come home to face nationally-ranked Oklahoma State on Sunday.
DEPAUL (11-7, 3-4): On Wednesday in the Allstate Arena, DePaul hosted the Bearcats of Cincinnati. Junior forward DELONTE HOLLAND had team highs 22 points and 9 rebounds in a 56-52 victory. Heading on the road on Saturday, the Blue Demons took on Saint Louis, who had the same conference record at the time. The Demons shot 46% for the game and connected on only 1 of their 6 three-point shots, as they dropped 65-57. This week, DePaul will take on Charlotte on Saturday, having some time off before getting back into the conference grind.
EAST CAROLINA (11-8, 2-6): On Wednesday, the Pirates took a trip north to Milwaukee to battle Marquette. GABRIEL MIKULAS did score 11 points, but ECU committed 16 turnovers and shot only 35% from the field in an 80-48 setback. Trying to salvage something good this week, the Pirates traveled to Tulane on Saturday. With another poor shooting display and being outrebounded by 7, ECU couldn't keep up with the Wave and lost 67-56. This week, ECU travels to Memphis on Tuesday, and comes back home on Saturday evening as they take on Southern Miss.
LOUISVILLE (16-1, 6-0): The Cardinals came into Southern Mississippi's home on Wednesday evening and clipped the Eagle's wings. Senior forward ERIK BROWN shot 8-8 from the field and scored a career high 22 points in a 94-65 thrashing. On Saturday, the Cards hosted the defending national finalist Indiana, looking for their 15th straight win. With the largest crowd in Freedom Hall history, freshman FRANCISCO GARCIA led a second half burst with 23 points as the Cards battled back from being down by as many as 16 to win rather convincingly, 95-76. This week, the Cards play host to bitter rival Cincinnati on Wednesday, and travel to Houston on Saturday night. Both games will be nationally-televised.
MARQUETTE (15-3, 7-1): On Wednesday, Marquette looked to take revenge on their only C-USA loss of the year as they hosted the Pirates of East Carolina. Junior guard DWAYNE WADE improved his chances for player of the year by scoring 25 points, and dishing out 6 assists in 28 minutes as the Eagles won easily, 80-48, giving them their 26th straight home court win. On Saturday, Marquette made the trek to Cincinnati, the team "everyone is shooting for" according to Wade. ROBERT JACKSON led the frontcourt by scoring 21 points in an 82-76 victory. This week, the Eagles play host to Saint Louis on Wednesday and ACC challenger Wake Forest on Sunday.
SAINT LOUIS (8-10, 2-5): On Wednesday, the Billikens traveled east to Charlotte for a big positioning game in the American Division. Saint Louis had battled from behind the entire game, but couldn't pull out the win as they lost 62-55. On Saturday in the Savvis Center, SLU hosted DePaul in a game in which MARQUE PERRY had a career high 28 points, including 13 free throws, as the Billikens won 65-57. This week, Saint Louis travels to Marquette and South Florida.
ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM (12-5, 4-2): In the Blazers only game of the week, TCU came to Birmingham on Wednesday. Center GABE KENNEDY scored a career high 23 points, and UAB overcame 2-23 shooting from behind the arc to take out the Frogs in overtime, 84-82. Coach MIKE ANDERSON could not believe the outcome, mainly because the Blazers allowed TCU to hit 12 of their 18 three-pointers, but was glad his team came out on top in the end. This week, UAB travels to Southern Miss on Tuesday, and returns home to face Tulane on Saturday.
HOUSTON (6-11, 4-2): Coming off a big win at Southern Mississippi last weekend, Houston played host to South Florida, one of the biggest threats in the National Division, on Wednesday. Sophomore guard ANDRE OWENS stepped up big for the Cougars, scoring 23 points to go with his 7 rebounds and 4 assists, as UH won 59-57. On Saturday, Houston made the short trip across the state to Fort Worth to take on TCU. In another installment of "The LOUIS TRUSCOTT Show," the senior forward had a double-double by halftime and finished with a season high 21 points and a career high 21 rebounds as the Cougars won 61-56. This week, the Cougars look to extend their 3-game win streak at home against Tulane on Tuesday and against Louisville on Saturday.
MEMPHIS (12-5, 3-3): With only one game this past week, the Tigers played host to Southern Miss on Saturday in the Pyramid. Junior guard ANTONIO BURKS recorded a double-double with 10 points and 12 assists as Memphis won in convincing fashion, 80-62. For the game, the Tigers shot 58% from the three-point line, and 50% from the field. This week, Memphis hosts East Carolina on Tuesday and travels to Fort Worth on Saturday for a game against TCU.
SOUTH FLORIDA (10-8, 3-4): On Wednesday, the Bulls took a trip to Houston to face a Cougar team that had been playing well lately. Senior center WILL McDONALD had an impressive 24-point, 12-rebound performance but it wasn't enough as the Bulls fell 59-57. On Saturday, USF hosted Charlotte, an American Division opponent. Junior guard JIMMY BAXTER showed some life with 21 points and 7 rebounds as the Bulls charged through the 49ers, 67-64. This week, the Bulls play host to TCU on Wednesday and Saint Louis on Saturday.
SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI (9-9, 2-5): On Wednesday, the Eagles played host to one of the hottest teams in the country in Louisville. Though 5 players scored in double figures, led by junior forward CHARLES GAINES' 15 points, the depth of Louisville got to the Eagles as they fell 94-65. On Saturday, USM traveled to Memphis. Gaines again led the scoring and rebounding totals, but the Tigers were too much in the 80-62 loss. This week, the Eagles host UAB on Tuesday and travel to the always-tough at home team of East Carolina on Saturday.
TEXAS CHRISTIAN (7-12, 1-6): The Horned Frogs started the conference grind back up again on Wednesday at UAB. JUNIOR BLOUNT had 22 points and 4 assists, but it wasn't quite enough as UAB prevailed 84-82 in overtime. On Saturday, TCU hosted the Cougars of Houston. Though the Frogs didn't even score in the first nine minutes of the ballgame, TCU made an impressive comeback but fell short 61-56. This week, the Frogs travel to South Florida on Wednesday and will play host to Memphis on Saturday.
TULANE (9-10, 2-4): The Green Wave had a few days off to prepare for last Saturday's game against East Carolina. Led by senior guard BRANDON SPANN and his 20 points, the Green Wave were able to silence the Pirates, 67-56. The Wave were aided by their 42% shooting from the field and the 10 more free throws made than ECU. This week, Tulane will travel to Houston on Tuesday and will also go to Birmingham on Saturday to face UAB.
PATRICK CRUSH'S FIVE-STAR GAMES OF THE WEEK
FIVE STARS: Cincinnati (13-5, 6-2) vs. Louisville (16-1, 6-0) (Wednesday, 7:00 PM)
FOUR STARS: Wake Forest (14-2, 4-2) vs. Marquette (15-3, 7-1) (Sunday, 1:30 PM)
THREE STARS: Oklahoma State (17-2, 6-1) vs. Cincinnati (13-5, 6-2) (Sunday, 3:30 PM)
TWO STARS: Tulane (9-10, 2-4) vs. Houston (6-11, 4-2) (Tuesday, 8:30 PM)
ONE STAR: Alabama-Birmingham (12-5, 4-2) vs. Southern Mississippi (9-9, 2-5) (Tuesday, 8:00 PM)