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Bearcats Romp St. Louis By 27

Ruben Patterson had 17 points and eight rebounds, and No. 19 Cincinnati dominated inside for a 70-43 victory over Saint Louis on Thursday night.

Cincinnati (18-5, 9-2 Conference USA) took control early and beat Saint Louis (17-7, 8-3) for the eighth straight time. The Bearcats outrebounded the Billikens 40-24 and had five dunks in the first half.

Cincinnati, which shot 55 percent from the field, led 33-22 at halftime. The Bearcats had a 17-point lead with 15:28 left and poured it on as coach Bob Huggins left his starters in the whole way.

Saint Louis star Larry Hughes, the nation's top freshman scorer with a 21.8 average, had one of his worst games. With eight NBA scouts in attendance, Hughes was 4-for-18 with six turnovers, two offensive fouls and only 12 points.

Saint Louis shot a season-worst 28 percent and didn't have a player in double figures until Hughes scored from the lane with 5:47 to go. The Billikens lost for the second time in 11 games in front of a sellout crowd of 20,007 as coach Charlie Spoonhour was denied his 300th career victory.

Saint Louis made its first 3-pointer in each half, but was only 3-for-14 overall.

Melvin Levett added 15 points, and Kenyon Martin and D'Juan Baker had 14 apiece for Cincinnati, which rebounded from a 69-62 loss at North Carolina-Charlotte on Saturday.

Cincinnati, which is a half-game behind Charlotte in the American Division, hasn't lost consecutive games since 1995.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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