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February 20, 2008University of Cincinnati Senior Marcus Sikes' playing time has decreased significantly since last season, but against South Florida, he turned in a clutch performance when his team needed it the most.
With 4:33 to go in the game, and his team trailing 46-45, Sikes drained a huge three to put the Bearcats up two. On the very next play, Sophomore Deonta Vaughn missed an open three, but Sikes was there for the tip-in to give the Cats a four-point lead.
"Marcus Sikes I thought, gave us great energy tonight off the bench, said head Coach Mick Cronin. "He stepped up in many ways, made a couple shots, and had a big offensive rebound. When I subbed him in there he really did an excellent job with his help defense, his defensive rebounding his rotations and I thought the whole energy of our team picked up when he went in there."
After the game, Sikes said he knows he has the ability to give his team a spark when they need it.
"I feel good, I know I'm capable of it, it's juts a matter of me showing up on a consistent basis," Sikes said. "Of course my numbers are down and my minutes are low, but you just got to be willing to work hard and do whatever it takes for the team."
Cronin raved about the positive attitude Sikes has had all year.
"I was really happy for Marcus," Cronin said. "He really cares about the team. He's had a great attitude all year, and he really dug in there tonight and did a great job with his help on Gransberry in the post."
Sikes said it felt great to be able to come in and help his team pick up a much-needed win.
"It feels really good," Sikes said. "I'm just willing to do anything for my team I can get down about my minutes being low or I can just take it for what it's worth and just provide for my team."
South Florida head coach Stan Heath was somewhat surprised with the clutch play of Sikes.
"He really stepped up for them," Heath said. "I had to ask my assistants to look up the scouting report again and see where he came from.
Hrycaniuk Shuts Down Gransberry
Senior Adam Hrycaniuk also turned in a solid game for the Bearcats. Hrycaniuk was matched up against South Florida's leading scorer, Kentrell Gransberry, for most of the night. Gransberry came into the game shooting 54.1 percent from the field and averaging 17.2 points per game.
"Jamual gets a lot of credit for being a great role player for us," Cronin said. "But I wish Adam would get the same amount of credit for what he does for us with his defense and his (rebounding)."
Gransberry managed to score just seven points in the game and shot just 2-of-10 from the field, thanks in large part to Hrycaniuk's defense. Gransberry also had five turnovers and didn't make his first field goal until four minutes into the second half.
"Adam obviously made some mistakes down the stretch, but his defense was a big part of our win tonight," Cronin said.
After scoring a season-low three points in the game against St. John's, Deonta Vaughn found his stroke against South Florida. Vaughn scored 14 of the Bearcats' first 20 points and kept his team in the game in the first half.
In the second half, South Florida came back and took a 42-37 lead after going on a 9-2 run. Once again, Vaughn stepped up for the Bearcats and drained threes on back-to-back possessions to cut the lead to one.
Although UC struggled to beat the 11-16 Bulls, Cronin thought it was a great win for his team because they showed they can rise above adversity.
"Whenever you can shoot 34 percent, 29 percent from three and miss your last four free throws of the game, score 52 points, and win a conference game, you have got to be happy," Cronin said. "We gutted out a win, sometimes you got to do that."
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