Marquette loses first game without star

CINCINNATI (AP) -- With Marquette missing its best player, all Cincinnati had to do was let its two formidable power

forwards take over the game.

Eric Hicks and Jason Maxiell were up to it again.

Hicks scored 17 points and Maxiell added 14 on Thursday, leading

the Bearcats to an 80-68 win in Marquette's first game without

leading scorer Travis Diener, lost for the season with a broken


Cincinnati (21-6, 9-4 Conference USA) got up by 28 points in the

second half before coasting, one of the Bearcats' worst habits.

Marquette hit some late 3s, cutting the lead to seven points in the

final minute against Cincinnati's reserves.

"We get passive," coach Bob Huggins said. "We come out and

play really, really hard, then get a lead and get passive. We get

comfortable, and it's hard to play this game comfortable."

Marquette (18-9, 6-8) had trouble finding shots without Diener

running the show. Cincinnati (No. 22 ESPN/USA Today; No. 24 AP) is No. 2 in the nation in forcing

opponents to miss, holding them to 36.8 percent -- exactly what

Marquette shot.

Diener, one of the nation's top point guards, led the conference

in scoring (19.7 points per game) and assists (7 per game) when he

broke his hand Tuesday during practice. He had surgery and will

miss the rest of his senior season.

Steve Novak led Marquette with 25 points, going 7-of-12 from

behind the 3-point arc. Sophomore guard Dameon Mason took Diener's

spot in the lineup and had 17.

Diener was upbeat and smiling as he walked around the court

during pregame warmups, slapping hands with teammates as they

stretched on the floor. Huggins spotted Diener, walked over to him,

shook his hand and warmly wrapped an arm around his shoulders.

Huggins said something that made both of them laugh, then pumped

his hand again before walking away to attend to his team.

Then, the Golden Eagles found out just how much they're going to

miss Diener.

Marquette had won three of its last five games, showing signs of

stabilizing. Without Diener, the Golden Eagles looked lost on

offense. They couldn't get into a flow without the school's career

3-point leader on the floor.

"When they called plays, I know a lot of people weren't in the

right spots," Hicks said. "There was confusion at times. I could

tell they missed not having Diener out there."

Coach Tom Crean called a 30-second timeout after Cincinnati

surged ahead 13-4 in the opening minutes. Diener walked pensively

around the perimeter of the huddle, and a fan in the Cincinnati

student section held up a sign that read: "No Diener No Chance."

Crean thought his team missed Diener's leadership at the outset.

"Probably, but that's not an excuse," Crean said. "We've got

to learn to deal with it. We figured it out in the second half."

Cincinnati got open 3s over Marquette's zone, packed in to try

to contain Maxiell and Hicks. Nick Williams made three of his first

four shots from behind the arc, putting the Bearcats in control

early. Williams finished with 16 points.

Freshman walk-on guard Ryan Patzwald made a 3 and a jumper

during an eight-point spurt, and Hicks made a turnaround jumper and

three-point play that put the Bearcats up 38-21 at halftime.

Marquette had only two assists in the first half, underscoring

how much it missed Diener.

Hicks and Maxiell scored Cincinnati's first 10 points in the

second half, helping the Bearcats extend their lead to 20.

Cincinnati led by as many 28 before Marquette closed the gap down

the stretch behind Novak's long-range shooting over the Bearcats'