No. 6 Cincinnati 101, Southwest Missouri St. 60
Jan. 02, 1997
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ Danny Fortson is feeling good about the Cincinnati Bearcats.
The 6-foot-7 junior forward was named MVP of the inaugural Puerto Rico Holiday Classic on Wednesday after scoring 24 points and 10 rebounds in the sixth-ranked Bearcats' 101-60 thrashing of previously unbeaten Southwest Missouri State.
``We're starting to come along. We're doing the things we didn't,'' Fortson said, referring to losses to Xavier, Ohio and Kansas that knocked Cincinnati out of the No. 1 spot in the polls. ``We're finally back to where we were in the preseason.''
Cincinnati (8-2) looked awesome against the Bears, using a 14-0 run on the way to a 51-24 halftime lead. The Bearcats finished with a 64-27 rebound advantage _ 30-11 on the offensive end _ and shot 49 percent (38-of-77) from the field.
``Everybody's contributing and that's an important thing,'' Fortson said. ``If we get the bench playing the way the starting five has been we can be a pretty good team.
``I think today we were so effective because we pressured them pretty hard, and that helped us set the pace.''
Cincinnati head coach Bob Huggins praised his team's aggressive play.
``This has been the best we've rebounded all the season,'' he said. ``Our strength was under the boards and was outstanding helping us get dominance of the game. We didn't want to play a half-court game ... and we were able to get them to play the way we wanted.''
Bob Brannen had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Bearcats, while Darnell Burton and D'Juan Baker each had 12 points.
The loss by the Bears (10-1) left five unbeaten teams _ Kansas, Wake Forest, Iowa State, Xavier of Ohio and Oregon.
``This was a hard game,'' Southwest Missouri State coach Steve Alford said. ``But either we find excuses for the loss or we take the lesson that it is really very hard to be a good team.''
Danny Moore had 13 points and Ben Kandlbinder added 11 for Southwest Missouri State, which shot 37 percent (24-of-65).