Around C-USA: Cards in pursuit of first title

With two weeks left in the regular season, ITV's Patrick Crush updates the action Around C-USA.

AROUND C-USA

3 WEEKS UNTIL 2003 CONFERENCE USA TOURNAMENT IN LOUISVILLE, KY 

AMERICAN DIVISION 

CHARLOTTE (11-13, 6-6): DEMON BROWN scored 22 points, including knocking down 6 three-point shots, but the 49ers fell on the road Thursday as Marquette handled Charlotte 75-67. Staying on the road for a Saturday evening match-up, CHRIS NASH scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half as the 49ers beat East Carolina 71-66 to pull into an even conference record. This week, Charlotte stays at home with games against Southern Miss on Wednesday and DePaul on Saturday. 

CINCINNATI (15-8, 7-5): On Wednesday in the Shoemaker Center, the Bearcats hosted an improving Saint Louis team. Despite holding the Billikens to a ten-minute shooting drought in the second half, the Bearcats fell 58-55. Trying to avoid losing two straight games at home in school history, UC hosted Louisville on Saturday. Greatly improving their own NCAA Tournament hopes, Cincinnati put up a season-high scoring total led by LEONARD STOKES's 31 as the Bearcats manhandled the Cardinals, 101-80. This week, UC hosts East Carolina on Wednesday before traveling to Memphis on Saturday.  

DEPAUL (14-9, 6-6): The Blue Demons used a strong rebounding performance led by SAM HOSKIN's game-highs 12 boards and 22 points as DePaul took care of business Tuesday evening with an important 77-63 road win at East Carolina. For the game, DePaul led the rebounding category 40-28. Returning home for a Saturday contest with Saint Louis, ANDRE BROWN recorded a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds, but it wasn't enough as the Blue Demons fell on a last-second shot by the Billikens, 62-61. This week, DePaul will go on the road with games Wednesday at UAB and Saturday at Charlotte. 

EAST CAROLINA (12-12, 3-10): On Tuesday, the Pirates held an early lead at home against DePaul, but the Blue Demons proved to be too much as the Pirates were outplayed on the rebounding total and eventually fell 77-63. TRAVIS HOLCOMB-FAYE became the fourth Pirate in school history to record 100 steals for his career with two on the night. Staying at home for an afternoon showdown with Charlotte on Saturday, the Pirates gave the 49ers everything they had, but still came up on the wrong end of the score in a 71-66 loss. 4 ECU players recorded double figures scoring-wise. This week, the Pirates have a chance to be spoilers on the road with games at Cincinnati on Wednesday and Louisville on Saturday. 

LOUISVILLE (19-4, 9-3): Coming off a dramatic win last weekend at Marquette, the Cardinals brought a lackluster effort into Wednesday's game at home with rival Memphis. UofL was outrebounded 47-31, allowing the Tigers 20 offensive boards, and lost 80-73. Like the travel to Cincinnati on Saturday, the game provided a stop-and-go atmosphere also. With a combined 68 fouls (40 for the Cards) and 5 technicals, including coach RICK PETINO getting tossed from the game, Cincinnati used the pace to run all over UofL, 101-80. Looking to turn things around this week, the Cardinals host American Division leader Marquette on Thursday night and East Carolina comes to Freedom Hall for an early game on Saturday.  

MARQUETTE (20-4, 11-2): On Thursday, the Golden Eagles vaulted into first place in the American Division behind DWYANE WADE's 21-point performance as Marquette defeated Charlotte in the Bradley Center, 75-67. On Saturday, Wade put on another show with 22 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks as the Eagles took out a tough TCU team, 79-68. This week, Marquette travels south for the revenge game against Louisville on Thursday, while returning home Saturday evening for a game against Alabama-Birmingham. 

SAINT LOUIS (12-12, 6-7): The Billikens went into Cincinnati's Shoemaker Center on Tuesday night looking for their first win in the Queen's City for the first time in 20 years. MARQUE PERRY tallied 20 points and CHRIS SLOAN added 14 more as SLU pulled off an incredible upset, 58-55. Looking for their fourth straight victory overall on Saturday, the Bills went into the Allstate Arena in Rosemont for a game with DePaul. Perry stole the show again, connecting on a full-court lay-up with two seconds remaining, as Saint Louis won 62-61. This week, DePaul has the week off until a game Saturday at home with Tulane.  

NATIONAL DIVISION 

ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM (15-8, 7-5): Led by TONY JOHNSON's jumper with less than a minute to go in overtime, the Blazers pulled out an important road win at TCU on Tuesday, 88-85. The Blazers held off a 14-0 TCU run in the second half to force the game into overtime. Hosting Houston on Saturday, MORRIS FINLEY scored 21 points in the game (all off his 7 three-point baskets) and UAB outscored the Cougars by 20 in the second frame to beat Houston 80-52. This week, the Blazers host DePaul on Wednesday and have a tough interdivisional match-up Saturday at Marquette. 

HOUSTON (7-16, 5-7): Despite committing 11 turnovers in the first half in Hofheinz Pavillion on Wednesday night, LOUIS TRUSCOTT led a Cougar charge in the second period, scoring 15 points, as Houston defeated Southern Mississippi 46-42 in a very sloppy game. On Saturday, the Cougars committed 15 first half turnovers at UAB and though Houston evened the rebounding game at 40, the Blazers held control throughout in a 80-52 loss. This week, UH travels to New Orleans on Wednesday to face Tulane and returns home on Saturday awaiting a TCU team eager for revenge on their in-state rival.  

MEMPHIS (18-5, 9-3): On Wednesday, the Tigers headed into Freedom Hall to take on American Division leaders Louisville. In a game that came down to rebounding, CHRIS MASSIE scored 12 points to go with his 11 rebounds, while EARL BARRON collected 11 rebounds of his own, as Memphis pulled off a huge road win, 80-73. Staying on the road Saturday with a trip to South Florida, JOHN GRICE scored 16 points and collected 11 rebounds while the Tigers took care of business again, beating the Bulls 73-66. This week, TCU comes to the Pyramid on Wednesday and Cincinnati will also make the trip on Saturday. 

SOUTH FLORIDA (13-11, 6-7): On Tuesday evening in New Orleans, 4 USF players scored in double figures led by JIMMY BAXTER's 15, but even that wasn't enough as Tulane ended the party in a 68-65 setback. Coming back on Saturday in the friendly confines of the Sun Dome, the Bulls dropped for only the second time this season as Memphis overpowered USF, 73-66. This week, the Bulls only game will be Saturday at Southern Miss. 

SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI (11-13, 4-9): Despite having a 22-18 halftime lead on Tuesday night in Houston, Southern Miss quickly lost the lead and couldn't gain it back in the second frame as USM fell 46-42. CHARLES GAINES led the Eagles with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Coming back to Hattiesburg for a Saturday game against Tulane, Southern Miss bounced back in a big way behind CLEMENT CARTER's season-high 20 points in a 76-72 win against the Green Wave. This week, USM will have a Wednesday visit to Charlotte and returns home for the weekend as they host South Florida on Saturday.  

TEXAS CHRISTIAN (8-17, 2-11): JUNIOR BLOUNT became the 26th TCU player in school history to record 1,000 points for his career by lighting up the nets for 20 on Tuesday in at home in Fort Worth against UAB, but it was the Blazers who had the last laugh in a disappointing 88-85 loss in overtime. CHUDI CHINWEZE led the Horned Frogs in with a career-high 28 points and 13 rebounds. On Saturday, the Frogs hosted Marquette in the Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. However, the TCU defense had no answers for the powerful Golden Eagle offense, despite COREY SANTEE's 18 points, in a 79-68 loss. This week, the Horned Frogs travel to Memphis on Wednesday, and then will play a tough road game on Saturday against Houston. 

TULANE (13-12, 6-6): The Green Wave hosted UAB on Tuesday evening in Fogelman Arena in New Orleans. Led by BRANDON SPANN's 16 points, the Green Wave held off the visiting Blazers 68-65 for their fifth win in the last six games. On Saturday, the Green Wave traveled east for a match-up with Southern Miss. WAITARI MARSH scored an impressive 21 points in the contest, but the Eagles were too much in a 76-72 loss. This week, Houston comes to town on Wednesday, while the Green Wave will take a trip to Saint Louis on Saturday.  

PATRICK CRUSH'S FIVE-STAR GAMES OF THE WEEK 

FIVE STARS: Marquette (20-4, 11-2) vs. Louisville (19-4, 9-3) (Thursday, 8:00 PM) 

FOUR STARS: Cincinnati (15-8, 7-5) vs. Memphis (18-5, 9-3) (Saturday, 9:00 PM) 

THREE STARS: DePaul (14-9, 6-6) vs. Charlotte (11-13, 6-6) (Saturday, 3:00 PM) 

TWO STARS: Tulane (13-12, 6-6) vs. Saint Louis (12-12, 6-7) (Saturday, 2:00 PM) 

ONE STAR: Texas Christian (8-17, 2-11) vs. Houston (7-16, 5-7) (Saturday, 8:00 PM)


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