By Patrick Klein
Arizona Daily Wildcat February 9, 1996
The NCAA Tournament doesn't start for another month, but the UA men's basketball team will get a little taste of March on Sunday when they face No. 5 Cincinnati.
The game will be held at Phoenix's Veterans Memorial Coliseum as part of the 7-Up ShootOut at 1:45 p.m. Arizona State plays North Carolina State at 11:30 a.m.
"It's a tournament-type game against a tournament-type team," UA point guard Reggie Geary said. "It will be good for both of us."
The Bearcats (17-1) have been a steamroller for most of the season, with their lone loss coming in a 70-68 decision at Alabama-Birmingham three weeks ago. Along the way, UC has beaten two Pacific 10 Conference teams, Cal (77-70) and Southern Cal (85-53).
Not only are the Bearcats winning, but they are winning impressively. Cincinnati has the nation's third-largest margin of victory at 20.9 points.
"It's a measuring stick. We know how good Cincinnati is, but are we in the same ballpark? I don't know. But by the time we finish on Sunday we will know," UA head coach Lute Olson said.
The task for the No. 16 Wildcats (17-4 overall, 7-3 in the Pac-10) will be to contain sophomore Danny Fortson, a 6-foot-7, 260 pound forward who averages just under a double-double with 21.9 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. He is a 57.7 percent shooter and has exploded a few times this season, going for 34 points and 15 rebounds against Southern Mississippi and 40 and 17 versus Xavier. He's a big reason why the Bearcats out-rebound teams by a 42.6-34.0 average.
In his last 11 games Fortson has averaged 25.1 points and 11.4 rebounds.
"If there's a better rebounder in the country on the collegiate level, I don't know who he is," Olson said.
But Cincinnati begins and ends with their famed pressure defense. The Bearcats force an average of 18.2 turnovers a game, make 9.5 steals and force opponents into 37.7 percent shooting. From the 3-point line, teams shoot just 26.7 percent.
"They do it on defense. They force you into a lot of mistakes, they hit the boards as well as any team in America," Olson said. "If you can handle their defense I think you've got a shot."
The Bearcats also present a problem in the middle for Arizona. Fortson is joined in the paint by 6-9, 250-pound center Art Long. UA's 255-pound Ben Davis is the only player who has the bulk to match up inside with either Fortson or Long. 6-7 Corey Williams and 6-10 A.J. Bramlett, who have received the bulk of the time at the other post position for Arizona, both tip the scales at 210 pounds.
Davis has recorded seven double-doubles in his last 10 outings and leads the team in scoring (14.3) and rebounding (9.1).