Print and Go Back Men's College Basketball [Print without images]

Friday, February 8, 2002
Updated: February 11, 10:40 AM ET
Bear of road trip ends on Tobacco Road

By Jay Bilas
Special to

No. 5 Cincinnati at No. 16 Wake Forest
GAME TIME:   Saturday, Noon ET (ABC)
LAST MEETING:   Cincinnati 78, Wake Forest 72 OT (Jan. 27, 2001)
SERIES:   Cincinnati leads, 4-0

Leonard Stokes came up big for Cincinnati against Charlotte, scoring 30 in the Bearcats' victory.
After having its 20-game win streak snapped at Marquette a week ago, Cincinnati bounced back hard Wednesday night at Charlotte by smothering the 49ers in the second game of a brutal road swing. The Bearcats now step out of Conference USA play to take on a familiar coach, if not familiar foe, in Skip Prosser and Wake Forest.

The Bearcats are the nation's best and most determined defensive teams, and have pitched near shutouts all season long. The win over Charlotte was a good example of just how good Cincinnati can be on the defensive end of the floor, holding the 49ers to just 37-percent shooting and nine points under their average in a 85-66 victory. Cincinnati leads the nation in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to just 36-percent shooting on the season. Bob Huggins has done a remarkable job with this team, who few thought would spend much time in the top 5 this season.

Why were the Bearcats overlooked when they have won Conference USA in every season of its existence? Primarily because scoring consistently was seen to be a potential problem for Cincinnati. The Bearcats can defend better than anyone, but have a problem scoring.

Cincinnati does not get consistent production out of its frontcourt, but have solid performers on the defensive end and on the glass in Donald Little, Jamal Davis and Jason Maxiell. Immanuel McElroy and Leonard Stokes are quality wings who can score in transition, attack the basket and really guard people. Stokes put up 30 on Charlotte, but didn't have more than 11 in five previous games after a 36-point effort on Jan. 16 against DePaul.

But, what really makes this team dangerous is Steve Logan. Last year, Logan played off the ball, but this year he runs the point. Cincinnati has been running more motion in the last month, but called a number of sets against Charlotte, many of them for Logan. Logan is one of the most skilled players in the country, and averages over 21 points and 6 assists per game in Conference USA play.

To beat Cincinnati, Wake Forest must limit Logan. To do that, Wake must find him early, and stay with him without helping off on the strong side. Wake Forest may take some cues from Marquette and Charlotte, who stayed with Logan all game long without leaving him. Wake must also keep Cincinnati from scoring in transition and off of the offensive glass.

Prosser came to Wake Forest from Xavier, where he played Cincinnati annually in the Crosstown Shootout. Prosser knows what the Bearcats are all about, and you can bet he will be eating some Skyline Chili while watching film in preparation for this game.

Wake Forest is playing its best basketball of the season. The Deacons' two best players are Josh Howard and Darius Songaila, and they are two of the best players in the ACC. Both are capable of scoring 25 points and grabbing double-digit rebounds every time they step onto the floor. Songaila leads the team in scoring at over 16 points per game, and he is second in rebounding with 8 rebounds per game. Howard averages over 16 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 assists in ACC games, and has emerged as one of the most versatile players in the nation at both ends.

How the Deacons fare against Cincinnati will largely be determined by the play of Wake's point guards, Taron Downey and Broderick Hicks. Prosser likes to quote DeMatha coach Morgan Wooten on point guard play, who said "It begins at the beginning" with the play of your floor general.

Wake Forest plays at a breakneck pace, and loves to press. Prosser wants a chaotic pace, and wants to force teams to play at a fever pitch for 40 minutes. The Deacons employ a 1-2-2¾ court press that features Howard at the top, and Howard can force a lot of turnovers pointing the press. Wake will also run a 1-3-1 halfcourt trap.

On the offensive end, the Deacons run multiple entries into motion, and when they are patient, Wake Forest can score the ball efficiently.

Key matchup: Stokes vs. Howard

There are few athletes in the nation more gifted than Howard, and he is starting to emerge as a true star. Stokes is averaging 10 points, but his 30-point efforts against Charlotte and DePaul give a hint at his explosiveness. When Stokes provides scoring help for Logan, Cincinnati is very difficult to beat.

Key Stats: Offensive Rebounding and Transition Points

Cincinnati is not the most proficient scoring team in the country, and Wake Forest cannot allow Huggins' team to find ways to get easy scores. If Wake limits Cincinnati in transition and on the offensive glass, the Deacons will have a much better chance to pull the upset at home.

What to watch For: Watch how active Howard is on both ends. He is one of the best anticipatory defenders in the ACC, and is a perimeter shotblocker. He gets deflections and steals, and is an outstanding offensive rebounder.

No. 25 Texas Tech at No. 2 Kansas
GAME TIME:   Saturday, 4 p.m. ET
LAST MEETING:   Kansas 94, Texas Tech 82 (Jan. 6, 2001)
SERIES:   Kansas leads, 11-1

Andre Emmett
Andre Emmett, who averages over 20 points in Big 12 play, will be a tough matchup for Kansas
Bob Knight has, arguably, done the finest coaching job of the season this year at Texas Tech. He is, without argument, the Coach of the Year among coaches in the first year at a school.

Since taking over last March, Knight has instilled a new attitude in Lubbock, and the Red Raiders have responded by winning 16 games against only 5 losses. With quality wins over Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Wyoming, Minnesota, TCU and New Mexico State, Texas Tech sits in the RPI Top 20 and will march to the NCAA Tournament in Knight's first year.

By any standard, Texas Tech has made a remarkable turnaround. Kansas is, quite simply, one of the best two teams in the country along with Duke.

Texas Tech runs straight motion offense, employing dizzying downscreens, backscreens and fadescreens, featuring a lot of screen and re-screen action. The Red Raiders work the ball for quality shots, and shoot a very good percentage from the field in most games. Few teams in America run motion, primarily because it is difficult to teach and to execute, and most coaches are more comfortable running patterned offenses that are easy to understand, and therefore easy to scout and plan for.

Texas Tech is paced offensively by its three primary scorers, Andre Emmett, Andy Ellis and Kasib Powell. Emmett is perhaps the most difficult matchup in the Big 12, and is an outstanding post player. He has a knack for getting the ball to the rim, and he is very strong and determined around the goal. Emmett averages over 20 points in Big 12 games, and scored 29 of Texas Tech's 62 points against Oklahoma State. Ellis is a skilled shooter who can hit from the perimeter or score in the post, and Powell is an athletic swingman that can play out on the perimeter and often has to be covered by a guard, a match up that favors Texas Tech.

Where the Red Raiders need consistent play is from the guard spot. Will Chavis is a solid handler and passer with the ability to hit open shots; Nathan Doudney is a terrific shooter; and Nick Valdez knows how to play and is a fine passer that makes very good reads.

Texas Tech cannot afford to be discouraged after a close loss at Oklahoma State. The Red Raiders led the Cowboys by 15 points in the second half before falling in the last minute, 64-62.

Tech runs into a group of Jayhawks who are the most balanced team on the college basketball landscape, with one of the finest backcourts in the country, and the best frontcourt in the nation.

If not for Jason Williams, Drew Gooden would walk away with the National Player of the Year award. Gooden leads the Big 12 in scoring and rebounding, and has been consistent at a high level. Nick Collison and Wayne Simien help Gooden form a frontcourt that is skilled, athletic and tough, and all can run, rebound and score around the basket. Kirk Hinrich is one of the five best guards in the nation, and over the last six games he is averaging 16 points on 60-percent shooting to go with six assists. Along with Aaron Miles, Jeff Boschee and Keith Langford, Roy Williams has a quality corps of guards who can handle, pass, shoot and defend.

What makes Kansas really tough is that it changes ends faster than any team in the country. The Jayhawks, behind their great transition game and productive secondary break, average over 90 points per game, and shoot over 51 percent from the field as a team. The Jayhawks rebound well collectively, shoot well from the perimeter, especially in transition, and guard well.

Kansas is 9-0 in Big 12 play, a full two games ahead of Oklahoma, three games up on Missouri, and four games ahead of Texas Tech.

Key matchup: Emmett vs. Gooden

Texas Tech does not have anyone to match up with Gooden, who is having a magnificent season. But Kansas will likewise have a difficult time with Emmett. While these two will be the most fun to watch, Hinrich against the Red Raider guards could be the difference.

Key Stats: Transition Defense and Rebounding

For Texas Tech to win, the Red Raiders have to start at conversion. The Red Raiders have to get back quickly and find people in transition to stop Kansas' great fast break and secondary break. Kansas is a very good rebounding team, and can dominate opponents on the glass. To have an opportunity to win at the Phog, one of the five toughest places to play in the country, Texas Tech (0-6 at Kansas) has to get back in transition and send all five guys to the defensive glass on every possession.

What to watch For: Watch Knight's team run motion offense in the halfcourt. It is a joy to watch when it is run well, because Knight has taught his team how to play, how to make reads and how to move with a purpose. Watch how the Red Raiders come off screens, and slip screens on help situations or switches. On the other end, watch how Kansas runs the floor, pitches ahead, and how the Jayhawks execute the secondary break. Kansas easily scores over half of its points off of its secondary break.