No. 1-ranked Cincinnati won its fifth consecutive regular-season Conference USA championship, holding off a second-half charge by Houston for a 77-65 victory Thursday night at Houston. It was the 16th consecutive victory for the Bearcats.
Cincinnati, 24-1 overall and 12-0 in Conference USA, led, 46-28, at halftime but Houston (8-16, 2-9) twice pulled within seven points as Gee Gervin--son of former NBA and ABA star George Gervin--scored 18 of his 26 points in the second half.
Kenyon Martin had 26 points and 17 rebounds for Cincinnati.
In other men's games: No. 13 Tulsa (24-2, 9-1 in the Western Athletic Conference) was a 75-61 winner at Hawaii (15-9, 4-7). . . . Quincy Wadley made a three-point shot and had a four-point play on consecutive possessions with less than four minutes left to lead No. 15 Temple (19-4, 11-1 in the Atlantic 10) to a 64-58 victory at Dayton (18-6, 8-4). Temple, which has won 10 in a row, plays at Cincinnati Sunday. . . . Illinois (16-7, 8-4 in the Big Ten) was an 89-80 winner over Minnesota (12-10, 4-8) at Minneapolis--the Golden Gophers' first game since 7-foot-1 center Joel Przybilla was suspended by Coach Dan Monson for missing classes and practices. The Saint Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press reported Przybilla, who leads Minnesota in scoring (14.2 points a game), rebounds (8.4) and blocked shots (3.9), will not return to the team this season and plans to make himself available for the NBA draft in June. In introductions for Thursday's game, Monson was widely applauded by the crowd of nearly 14,000, while a halftime contestant in a promotion was roundly booed when it was announced he was from Monticello, Minn.--Przybilla's hometown. . . . Oregon (18-5, 9-3 in the Pacific 10) continued its best start since the 1939 team that won the first NCAA championship with a 70-53 victory over Washington State (5-16, 0-12) at Eugene, Ore. Washington State has lost 13 in a row. . . . Josh Steinthal came off the bench to make four of seven three-point shots and score 16 points to lead Oregon State (11-12, 3-9 in the Pacific 10) to a 70-53 victory over Washington (8-16, 3-9) at Corvallis, Ore.