Cincinnati pounds out victory over Georgia Tech Bearcats' inside play, defense lead 87-70 win


LEXINGTON, Ky. _ Power beat finesse here twice last night.

When Cincinnati shut down Georgia Tech's season with an 87-70 blowout at Rupp Arena, it set up a rough-and-tumble final in the Southeast Region.

The second-seeded Bearcats will face No. 5 seed Mississippi State _ the lowest seed still alive in the NCAA tournament _ for a berth in the Final Four tomorrow. Both teams feature a rough, physical style.

The Bearcats (28-4) battered Georgia Tech (24-12) with their superior inside strength, and disrupted the Yellow Jackets' perimeter game with suffocating man-to-man defense.

With Cincinnati's Damon Flint guarding Stephon Marbury and Keith LeGree on Drew Barry, the Jackets were never able to get untracked on offense.

Barry didn't hit his first field goal _ a three-pointer _ until nearly nine minutes into the second half, when Georgia Tech was down by 21 points. Barry ended his career on a six-point note that included 2-for-12 shooting.

Marbury closed his freshman season with a 4-for-13 shooting night and 15 points. He was only 1 for 6 from the three-point arc.

Playing before a decidedly home-court crowd of 23,890 at Rupp, the Bearcats led wire-to-wire and were never seriously challenged.

They had six players scoring in double figures, led by Flint's 18 points. Steve Gregor, Danny Fortson, Art Long and Darnell Burton all had 12 points, and LeGree finished with 11.

The Bearcats dominated the boards, 45-34, and hit 47.7 percent of their field-goal attempts.

Georgia Tech had 18 turnovers against Cincinnati's pressure defense.

"In the tournament, you're playing to bury people," Flint said. "We were tired of hearing about Georgia Tech. We were the number two seed. They had to come out and play us.

"I'm glad we were in Kentucky. As soon as we walked in the game, people started screaming. From then on, I knew it was our house."

The Bearcats opened a 15-point lead in the first half behind Art Long's 10-point, seven-rebound effort before a strong finishing kick got the Yellow Jackets within 10 (40-30) at halftime.

As poorly as Tech played in the first half, the second half was more of the same. The Jackets crawled within eight (42-34) early in the half, but Cincinnati went on a 22-9 run to put the game away. Keith Gregor scored seven points in the surge, including a three-point basket that opened a 19-point lead at 58-39.

The closest the Yellow Jackets got after that was 12 points, at 66-54, when Cincinnati went nearly five minutes without a field goal.

Georgia Tech's loss left Wake Forest as the lone Atlantic Coast Conference team still playing in the NCAA tournament.

Pub Date: 3/23/96

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