Cincy tied for C-USA lead


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- While Charlotte was trying to upset Cincinnati (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 15 AP) from the outside, the Bearcats took the inside track
to victory.

Cincinnati's frontcourt tandem of forward Jason Maxiell and
center Kareem Johnson combined for 32 points in a 75-67 win over
Charlotte on Saturday, avenging an earlier loss to the 49ers.

Charlotte had beaten the then-No. 8 Bearcats 86-83 in Cincinnati
on Jan. 31, and had won seven of its last eight games.

Maxiell scored 18 points, Field Williams had 15 and Johnson
added 14 points for Cincinnati (20-5, 11-3 Conference USA), which
moved into a first-place tie in the league with No. 19 Memphis,
which lost 66-60 at No. 21 Louisville on Saturday. The win gave
Bearcats coach Bob Huggins his 13th 20-win season in 15 seasons at
the school.

Charlotte connected on 5-of-11 3-pointers in the first half to
build as much as an eight-point lead, but Maxiell and Johnson
continued to find themselves open and each scored 10 points in the

"Max helped Kareem and Kareem helped Max and that took a lot of
pressure off of us," Cincinnati guard Tony Bobbitt said.

"I got several open looks and just hit my shots," Maxiell
said. "We fell behind early but we didn't let the game get away
from us."

Huggins credited his team for not losing its poise, especially
in the first half when Charlotte took an early lead.

"We felt like we gave up one to them in Cincinnati. You got to
really defend your home turf in this league," Huggins said. "I
thought defensively we gave a heck of an effort in the second

Forward Curtin Withers led Charlotte (18-7, 10-4) with 16 points
and 12 rebounds -- his 14th double-double of the season. Brendan
Plavich scored 14 and Eddie Basden added 10.

"We really challenged our post guys to step up to guard
Withers," Huggins said. "He's a very talented guy. He can score
inside and out and down the stretch he killed us in the game at

Withers was 4-of-10 from the field and 8-of-10 from the free
throw line.

Cincinnati evened its all-time record in eight games at Halton
Arena. It had been just one of two sites in which the Bearcats had
a losing conference record.

Charlotte, which led the whole first half, started the game with
an 8-0 run and still led 21-13 with 9:03 left in the half.

Cincinnati cut the margin to 26-25 with 4:36 to go in the half,
but could not get closer. Charlotte led 35-33 at halftime.

Cincinnati stayed close in the second half, but still trailed
48-42 with 15:42 to play. Nick Williams' jumper and Armein
Kirkland's 3-pointer helped tie the game at 50 with 11:50 to go.

Cincinnati took control from there, moving out to a 68-60 lead
with 3:58 to go.

However on the next play, Charlotte's Demon Brown stole the ball
and made a layup, cutting the margin to six. Cincinnati's James
White was then assessed a technical for shoving Brown after a
timeout was called.

The 49ers' Plavich hit both free throws to cut the margin to
four, but Charlotte could get no closer the rest of the way.

"You can say we were outcoached or outplayed, they just
executed so much better than we did," Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz
said. "We tried to change defenses, but they just handled it so

"We just weren't able to stop them -- that was the biggest
thing. We outrebounded them (35-29) and we played hard enough to
win, but we didn't execute as well as they did."