7:00 PM ET, February 6, 2006
Fifth Third Arena, Cincinnati, Ohio
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Eric Hicks smacked the floor so hard he didn't remember the next several minutes, but he came back to lead Cincinnati to a 74-68 victory over Louisville on Monday night."He was lobbying the doctors to get back into the game, but he was out of it (at halftime)," coach Andy Kennedy said. "He always looks a little crazy, so it was hard to tell."Hicks, who has averaged a double-double over the past 14 games, had 14 points and 12 rebounds for Cincinnati (16-8, 5-5 Big East)."I guess that hit on the head helped me," said Hicks, who was 10-of-10 at the line to help Cincinnati to a school record 18-of-18.Hicks, without question, is the inspirational leader of the short-handed Bearcats."He was literally wobbling on his stool," Kennedy said. "We had to let him play, or else we would have had to wrestle him. Our doctors are strong, but I don't think they're up to that fight."Jihad Muhammad had 19 points for Cincinnati, Devan Downey 15 -- including seven in the final four minutes -- and James White had 14.Brandon Jenkins led Louisville (15-8, 3-7) with 20. Taquan Dean had 16 and Andre McGee 14.Louisville, which beat Cincinnati 67-50 two weeks ago, has won just twice in eight games but was coming off an overtime victory over Notre Dame. Cincinnati had lost six of eight. Both teams had expected to have more of an impact in their first year in the Big East."Sometimes it comes down to a very simple reason why you win or lose," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "They were perfect from the line and we were very imperfect. It was a very disappointing game for us. Rebounding has been our Achilles heel all year."Cincinnati outrebounded Louisville 42-30.Jenkins tied the game at 41 before Hicks, who sat out the first 4½ minutes of the second half, returned and the Bearcats regained control.Louisville made one more run, pulling within 67-66 on a 3-pointer by Dean with 3:40 left. But Downey hit a 3-pointer and drove for a layup, and Muhammad hit a pair of free throws."We had it," Dean said. "It's the same story. We had it and we lost it."He said Cincinnati was more physical than the last time the teams played."UC was much more aggressive," Dean said. "When they came to our house, they weren't as aggressive. Tonight, they were very aggressive."Dean hit a 3-pointer for the first basket of the game, but the Cardinals missed their next five shots while Muhammad made a pair of 3's to start Cincinnati on an 18-3 run that gave the Bearcats their largest lead at 18-6.Louisville chipped away, but Hicks single-handedly kept Cincinnati in front, accounting for all eight of Cincinnati's points during a four-minute stretch.A 3-pointer by Chad Millard with 1:52 left in the half gave Louisville a brief lead at 31-30. But Cedric McGowan hit a basket, and White drove the baseline for another to make it 34-31.A pair of free throws by Dean with 1.8 seconds in the first half left pulled Louisville within 1.Hicks, who came down hard on the play that resulted in Dean's free throws, went to the locker room while Dean was at the line.Louisville, which hit a season-high 13 3-pointers against Notre Dame, was 6-of-10 from behind the arc in the first half.Hicks returned to the locker room shortly after the second half started. Louisville's 6-foot-11 David Padgett was able to dominate until Hicks returned with 15:46 to play.
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||23-58 (.397)||25-63 (.397)|
|3P Made-Attempted||11-29 (.379)||6-20 (.300)|
|FT Made-Attempted||11-17 (.647)||18-18 (1.000)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||17 (0/0)||18 (0/0)|