UAB upsets No. 25 Cincy

A fresh and motivated UAB team refused to let No. 25 Cincinnati

rebound or grab rebounds.

Elijah Millsap had 22 points and 15 rebounds Wednesday night

to lead the Blazers to a 64-47 victory over a Bearcats team that

was outhustled from the start and dominated on the boards three

days after a double-overtime loss at cross-town rival Xavier.

The Blazers (9-1) showed no rust from a 12-day layoff and

easily won their eighth straight game.

“The 12 days off really helped us get better as a basketball

team,” coach Mike Davis said. “We knew Cincinnati came off a very

emotional loss the other night versus Xavier. We knew how important

it was for us to come out and really play with a lot of intensity

on defense. It was the best performance we’ve had all season on

defense.”

The Bearcats (6-3) shot just 32 percent, and for a change

couldn’t compensate for that on the boards, getting outrebounded

47-34.

“We got totally outplayed,” Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin

said. “We played like a team that wasn’t interested in coming out

tonight. One team was overconfident and the other team was hungry

and humble.

“It’s tough to win when you can’t make a shot.”

The Bearcats whittled a 15-point halftime deficit to eight

twice in the opening minutes of the second half but trailed by as

many as 25 points before a last-minute spurt.

They missed nine straight shots as UAB rattled off a 14-0 run

to make it a rout. Hasty shots and turnovers helped keep Cincinnati

from staging a comeback.

“When you’re down and playing a quality opponent, the value

of a possession doubles,” Cronin said. “We’ve been doing this all

year. Just giving possessions away. We’ve just outrebounded

everybody and it’s made up for it. Anytime we tried to mount a run,

we just gave the ball away.”

Howard Crawford added 14 points and George Drake had 10 for

the Blazers, who have won 30 straight home games against

nonconference teams and all 23 under Davis.

Millsap added four steals, three assists and two blocked

shots.

Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati’s leading scorer, fouled out

with 4:35 left and had eight points. He missed about 9 minutes of

the first half after hurting his left ankle.

The freshman’s fifth foul came on a technical while

protesting a charging call.

Dion Dixon had 13 points — 11 in the second half — and was

the Bearcats’ only double-digit scorer.

“We just couldn’t get in a groove as a team,” said Dixon, who

didn’t think the problem was a hangover from the loss to Xavier.

“Nah, that didn’t have anything to do with it,” he said.

“We’re a young team, we haven’t played many games on the road.”

Cincinnati made only three of 22 3-point attempts and was

beaten to 26 rebounds by UAB’s backcourt of Millsap and JaMarr

Sanders.

“That was an emphasis for us at the beginning of the game,”

Millsap said. “We knew they were third in the nation in rebounding

(margin), so that was one thing we wanted to do, make sure

everybody got to the glass.”

The Bearcats ran into trouble practically from the opening

tip against a team coming off a long break for final exams. UAB

scored 11 of the game’s first 13 points and never allowed any

sustained rallies.

Stephenson clutched his lower leg on the baseline after

hobbling off the court just over a minute into the game and was

helped to the bench, and shortly after that into the locker room.

He came back with 10:20 remaining in the first half but attempted

only two shots and didn’t score.

“He hurt his ankle and he couldn’t really move the way he

wanted to,” Davis said.

The Bearcats trailed 34-19 at halftime after making seven of

26 shots and getting outrebounded 29-14. Millsap and Crawford

accounted for 27 UAB points.

Millsap had a putback, steal and fast-break dunk in the final

37 seconds to keep Cincinnati from closing the gap before halftime.

Cincinnati’s first two losses had come in overtime by a

combined six points. The Bearcats’ previous low was 59 points

against Gonzaga and they couldn’t come close to that.

“We felt pretty fresh,” said Sanders, who had seven points,

11 rebounds and four assists. “The 12 days off paid a positive

result for us. We wanted to come out and bring the fight to them

and make them play our type of tempo.”