4 WEEKS UNTIL THE 2003 CONFERENCE USA TOURNAMENT IN LOUISVILLE, KY
CHARLOTTE (10-12, 5-5): On Wednesday, guard DEMON BROWN hit a pair of late three-pointers and forward CURTIS WITHERS gathered his third double-double of the season as Charlotte held off visiting Houston in overtime, 59-55. On Saturday, in an ESPN-televised game, Brown broke former 49er JOBEY THOMAS's C-USA record of 110 three's in a season by connecting on 6 from behind the arc and the 49ers gave the Bearcats of Cincinnati a huge blow with a 74-64 victory. This week, Charlotte hits the road with games at Marquette on Thursday and East Carolina on Saturday.
CINCINNATI (14-7, 6-4): The Bearcats lost almost all hopes of an eighth straight C-USA title on Saturday as UC fell at Charlotte 74-64 in the team's only game of the week on Saturday evening. For the game, the Bearcats were dominated on the glass, being outrebounded 50-34, including allowing the 49ers an incredible 24 offensive boards, negating the 38% shooting effort by the home team. This week, Cincinnati returns to the Shoemaker Center with games against Saint Louis on Wednesday and the revenge match-up with Louisville on Saturday in a CBS-televised game.
DEPAUL (13-8, 5-5): Rebounding was the story on Wednesday evening as the Blue Demons hosted the Golden Eagles of Marquette. SAM HOSKIN led DePaul with 16 points and 12 rebounds, but a rebounding surge in the second half by Marquette put away the home team in a 73-60 loss. Looking for their first conference road win on Saturday, DePaul hit 11 of 12 free throws in the extra session as they knocked off Southern Mississippi 74-69 in overtime. This week, DePaul travels to East Carolina on Tuesday and returns to Rosemont on Saturday for a date with the Billikens of Saint Louis.
EAST CAROLINA (12-10, 3-8): In a match-up between the two teams tied for 11th place in the conference (only 12 go to the C-USA Tournament), the Pirates traveled to Saint Louis on Saturday for the team's only game last week. Scoring only one point in the final 12 minutes of the first half, the Billikens took control and never relented the lead in a 56-42 loss. The poor shooting was underscored by the 13-40 overall performance from the field by ECU. This week, the Pirates stay in Greenville with games against DePaul on Tuesday and Charlotte on Saturday evening.
LOUISVILLE (19-2, 9-1): The Cardinals 17-game win streak was put to rest on Wednesday night in Saint Louis as Louisville lost a 7-point lead with 90 seconds remaining and the game 59-58. Guard REECE GAINES had a season-high 28 points, but Louisville committed 16 turnovers compared to 8 for the Billikens. On Saturday in the "Five Stars Game of the Week," the American Division was at stake as the Cards went north to Milwaukee to face Marquette. Guard TAQUAN DEAN recorded 18 points and Gaines hit a three-pointer with 5 seconds remaining to provide the difference in a 73-70 win in what ABC-TV analyst Dick Vitale called "one of the best games this season." Gaines, from nearby Madison, WI, celebrated by pointing to his family in the stands as UofL won for the first time ever while wearing the alternate black jerseys. This week, Louisville has a pair of rivalry games, starting Wednesday at home against Memphis, and continuing Saturday at Cincinnati.
MARQUETTE (18-4, 9-2): With the crowd wildly celebrating (due to the news of Louisville's loss at Saint Louis) midway through the second half of Wednesday's game at DePaul, coach TOM CREAN called a timeout and reminded his players that if they took care of business, the Eagles would be on top of C-USA. Marquette did in fact take care of business, beating the Blue Demons 73-60. On Saturday, with the largest college basketball crowd in Wisconsin history, those Louisville Cardinals were the opponent in the Bradley Center. The Eagles' 28-game home winning streak was broken with a heartbreaking loss, 73-70. DWYANE WADE led Marquette with 15 points and ROBERT JACKSON contributed 14. This week, Marquette hosts Charlotte on Thursday and travels to Fort Worth on Saturday for a game with TCU.
SAINT LOUIS (10-12, 4-7): Hosting the second-ranked Louisville Cardinals on Wednesday, the Billikens pulled off one of the more improbable comebacks in school history. Down 7 points with under two minutes to play, a series of breaks occurred in favor of the Bills and culminated when guard MARQUE PERRY hit a floating jumper with three seconds remaining to take the game, 59-58, and give reason for the fans to rush the court. Coming back to the Savvis Center on Saturday, coach BRAD SODERBERG was extremely pleased with the defensive effort in a 56-42 win over visiting East Carolina. Saint Louis hits the road this week with a trip to Cincinnati on Tuesday and DePaul on Saturday.
ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM (13-8, 5-5): The Blazers put a stop to their two-game losing streak on Wednesday with an 85-67 win over South Florida in Birmingham. UAB used a 13-0 run in the second half to take control of the game, led by LEE COBB coming off the bench to score 8 points for the Blazers. On Saturday, in a game that would have made a two-way tie at the top of the National Division, UAB fell on the road to the Tigers of Memphis 94-70. Allowing 17 unanswered points early in the second half, the Blazers never came within 13 points afterwards. This week, UAB travels to Fort Worth on Tuesday for a game with TCU and will return home for a Saturday game against Houston.
HOUSTON (6-15, 4-6): Forward LOUIS TRUSCOTT had another dominating performance on Wednesday evening, scoring 20 points and grabbing 8 rebounds, but the Cougars still fell in overtime at Charlotte, 59-55. Staying on the road for the weekend, the Cougars visited South Florida on Saturday evening. Center JEREMEE McGUIRE led Houston in scoring with 9 points, but UH dropped their fourth consecutive decision in a 62-47 loss. This week, Houston hosts Southern Miss on Tuesday and travels to UAB for a Saturday night contest.
MEMPHIS (16-5, 7-3): Thursday night's national televised game with Tulane came down to the final possession. JOHN GRICE hit a pair of late three-pointers, but it was the Tiger defense that held off two desperate threats at the buzzer to win on the road, 58-57. Returning to the friendly confines of the Pyramid on Saturday, ANTONIO BURKS took over the game, scoring a career-high 27 points while dishing out 10 assists, as the Tigers destroyed UAB 94-70. With the win, Memphis secured the top spot in the National Division of the conference while winning their 5th straight game overall. This week, Memphis will have a tough test in Freedom Hall on Wednesday against Louisville while then having to travel to South Florida on Saturday for an important divisional showdown.
SOUTH FLORIDA (13-9, 6-5): In a battle that included nine ties in the first half, South Florida lost control of the game in the second frame on Wednesday night in Birmingham as UAB pulled away and poured on the points in an 85-67 debacle. Even with USF's BRIAN SWIFT scoring 10 points, the Bulls bench was still outscored 31-19. Returning home to the Sun Dome on Saturday for a match-up with Houston, guard REGGIE KOHN tallied 17 points, 7 assists, and a tying a career-high 6 steals in a 62-47 win. This week, the Bulls will travel to Tulane on Tuesday and return home on Saturday for a game against National Division front-runner Memphis.
SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI (10-12, 3-8): The Golden Eagles' road woes continued on Wednesday in Fort Worth as TCU used a late first half run as momentum to put away USM 85-78. DAVID HAYWOOD led the team in scoring with 20 points in the losing effort. On Saturday in Hattiesburg, in a game that came down to the free throw line, Southern Miss couldn't get anything going in the overtime period and fell 74-69 for their eighth loss in conference play this season. This week, USM will play at Houston on Tuesday and return home on Saturday for an afternoon game with Tulane.
TEXAS CHRISTIAN (8-15, 2-9): On Wednesday evening, COREY SANTEE scored 20 points, which was enough to snap the Horned Frogs' 5-game losing skid with an 85-78 home win against Southern Miss. The margin of victory came from the free throw line, with TCU hitting 21 compared to USM's 14 from the charity stripe. On Saturday, the Frogs took a trip to the Big Easy for a game with Tulane. JUNIOR BLOUNT hit a late three to pull TCU within two points, but Tulane was too much for the Frogs in an 84-78 loss. This week, the Daniel-Meyer Coliseum will be a busy place as the Frogs will host UAB on Tuesday evening and Marquette on Saturday afternoon.
TULANE (12-11, 5-5): On Thursday
evening, the Green Wave had one final shot to take out visiting Memphis, but
WAITARI MARSH was hounded by the Tiger defense and his shot fell short as Tulane
fell 58-57. Fogelman Arena was up for another game on Saturday as the Frogs from
Texas Christian came to town. The Waves used a 17-2 run early on in the second
half and pulled away late to take the game 84-78. This week, the Bulls of South
Florida come to town on Tuesday, then the Frogs are off to Hattiesburg on
Saturday for a game with Southern Miss.
PATRICK CRUSH'S FIVE-STAR GAMES OF THE WEEK
FIVE STARS: Memphis (16-5, 7-3) vs. Louisville (19-2, 9-1) (Wednesday, 7:00 PM)
FOUR STARS: Charlotte (10-12, 5-5) vs. Marquette (18-4, 9-2) (Thursday, 9:00 PM)
THREE STARS: Louisville (19-2, 9-1) vs. Cincinnati (14-7, 6-4) (Saturday, 4:00 PM)
TWO STARS: Memphis (16-5, 7-3) vs. South Florida (13-9, 6-5) (Saturday, 7:00 PM)
ONE STAR: South Florida (13-9, 6-5) vs. Tulane (12-11, 5-5) (Tuesday, 8:00 PM)