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Gonzaga Gets Station Break

NCAA MEN'S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

Cincinnati self-destructs with technical fouls in first-round game when Huggins and color analyst are ejected. Gonzaga takes advantage, 74-69.

March 21, 2003|Chris Dufresne | Times Staff Writer

SALT LAKE CITY — File this under: Things You Don't See Every Day.

The Cincinnati Bearcats got booted Thursday from the NCAA tournament -- along with their coach and the team's radio color analyst. And, no, he wasn't working for station WKRP.

Ninth-seeded Gonzaga defeated eighth-seeded Cincinnati, 74-69, in a wild and often frenetic first-round West Regional game at the Huntsman Center.

Gonzaga (24-8) will play top-seeded Arizona in a second-round game here Saturday.

For a recap of Thursday's action, we turn to Bearcat play-by-play radio announcer Dan Hoard, who described the key moments of second-half action on WLW-AM 700.

Coach Huggins has just been ejected and he's about to be joined by my partner!

It was nuts, all right.

With Gonzaga up, 47-40, Cincinnati Coach Bob Huggins went gonzo on referee Mike Kitts after Bearcat forward Jason Maxiell was called for traveling in the backcourt. Huggins clearly thought his player had been fouled.

Huggins screamed in protest and received a technical for leaving the coaching box. A few seconds later, he was hit with a second technical for refusing to leave the floor. He was escorted away at the 16:17 mark, jawing to police officers as he was led up the corridor.

This is the same Huggins who, last Sept. 28, suffered a nearly fatal heart attack in Pittsburgh, an experience that apparently has not tempered his on-court passion or his hair-trigger temper.

Meanwhile, courtside, Bearcat color commentator Chuck Machock did not wish to confine his feelings to his listening audience. When Kitts got within earshot, Machock blistered the referee with a foul-mouthed tirade.

"That's a terrible call, you SOB, terrible," Machock yelled at Kitts.

Kitts told Machock to pipe down or "You're going to be next," but Machock wouldn't let up.

Machock, a former coach and longtime friend of Huggins, took off his headset during his tirade. Hoard, the play-by-play man, wasn't sure how much of his partner's comments were heard on the air.

Soon, University of Utah official Steve Pyne approached Machock and said, "The NCAA wants you gone."

Mochock protested vehemently -- "What did I say? What did I say?" -- before being escorted off by uniformed officers.

Strangely, Cincinnati seemed to feed off Huggins' ejection.

Huggins said he spent the rest of the game in the locker room, drinking a Cranapple. With no television to watch, he said, he was unaware of what was happening in the game.

"You saw more than I saw," he said.

What did he miss?

Huggins' ouster gave Gonzaga four technical free throws and Blake Stepp made all four, putting the Bulldogs up, 51-40.

Though desperate and coach-less, Cincinnati, which finished the year 17-12, scrambled back to make it a game in the end. With 28 seconds left, Taron Barker's three-point shot hit the front of the rim, then rolled in, cutting Gonzaga's lead to 72-69.

Gonzaga beat Cincinnati back on defense with a long inbounds pass and it appeared Tony Skinner would cinch the game with a basket, but he missed an uncontested dunk.

Cincinnati called time with 22 seconds left and a chance to tie the score on its last possession. As the clock wound down, Tony Bobbit appeared to have a good look on a three-pointer, but his shot was blocked ... by Skinner, making up for his gaffe only seconds earlier.

After a quick foul, Ronny Turiaf made two free throws to clinch the victory.

Gonzaga Coach Mark Few said he didn't get down on Skinner after he'd missed the easy slam.

"Honestly," Few said, "I told him to get up, sprint back down and make a play."

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