CINCINNATI (AP) -- Eric Hicks scored 23 points and Cincinnati
shook off the disappointment of not making the NCAA tournament by
beating Charlotte 86-80 in the first round of the NIT on Friday.
Cedric McGowan added 20 points for Cincinnati, which will play
host to Minnesota in the second round of the NIT on Tuesday.
Cincinnati (20-12) is making its ninth appearance in the NIT and
first since 1991 when it lost to Oklahoma in the second round.
The Bearcats had been idle since losing to Syracuse on March 8
in the opening round of the Big East tournament. That loss
contributed to Cincinnati being denied its 15th consecutive NCAA
Tournament berth despite being ranked No. 40 in the RPI and playing
the fifth-strongest schedule in the country.
Curtis Withers had 20 points and had 15 rebounds for Charlotte.
The Bearcats won 14 of 22 meetings with the 49ers from 1995-96
when both teams were members of Conference USA. Charlotte is in its
first season in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Jihad Muhammad scored 17 points for the Bearcats, who led by as
many as 12 points in the first half.
Charlotte (19-13) rallied behind Leemire Goldwire, who scored
eight points, including consecutive 3-pointers, in the final five
minutes of the half to make the score 40-35.
Withers' dunk tied the score 40-40 early in the second half.
Chris Nance's dunk gave Charlotte its first lead, 44-43, with 16
The 49ers went on a 9-0 run to build a 56-48 lead. Cincinnati
responded with a 12-3 run to take a 70-69 lead.
McGowan's tip-in off James White's miss gave the Bearcats a
77-76 lead with 1:29 remaining.
The Bearcats hit five free throws in the final minute to seal