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Cincy Routs George Mason

George Mason claimed it was a mirror image of Cincinnati.

The third-seeded Bearcats made it look more like one-way glass Friday with a 72-48 victory Friday in the opening round of the NCAA East Regional.

The only thing the teams had in common was that they both struggled offensively for the opening 10 minutes. After that it was all Cincinnati, big.

"I don't know if we intimidated them right away because no one scored, but then we jumped on them and forced them out of their game and didn't let them get any confidence for the rest of the first half," said forward Pete Mickeal, who led the Bearcats (27-5) with 18 points.

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  • The 14th-seeded Patriots (19-11) had their worst shooting game of the season, going 18-for-66 (27.3 percent) and George Evans, the 28-year-old Gulf War veteran and Colonial Athletic Association player of the year, was held scoreless on 0-for-6 shooting.

    "I knew they would contest my shot and all of them are good players," said Evans, who averaged 17.8 points this season. "I tried to stay within the confines of our offense and do what I could."

    It wasn't much as the Bearcats had too many people to defend in the post and too many players on the bench.

    "We guard pretty well in the post," Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins said. "Jermaine Tate and Kenyon Martin have quick feet and Ryan Fletcher uses his big body and then there are other people coming off the ball. It all makes you shoot quicker than you want."

    Cincinnati advanced to the second round for the fifth consecutive year.

    "We come in looking at this as a two-game tournament not one game," Huggins said.

    Cincinnati, which led 15-11 after 10½ minutes, took control with a 26-6 run for a 41-17 halftime lead. George Mason had only five field goas in the first half and was outrebounded 26-12. The Bearcats' biggest lead was 65-35 with 7:38 left on a three-point play by Tate.

    Pete Mickeal scored 18 points to lead the Bearcats to an easy victory.>
    Pete Mickeal scored 18 points to lead the Bearcats to an easy victory. (AP)

    "Defensively they put tremendous pressure on you to make shots whether it's inside or outside," George Mason coach Jim Larranaga said. "As a player you feel someone is attacking you and you rush. Not having been here before, I don't think we knew how to respond."

    It was the second NCAA appearance for the Patriots, who lost to Indiana in 1989.

    Melvin Levett added 11 points for Cincinnati and Martin had 10. The Bearcats finished with a 57-42 rebound advantage with five players getting between eight and five.

    "I think we're one of the best defensive teams in the country," Huggins said. "In the 10 years I've been here, this is one of the better halfcourt defensive teams we've had."

    Jason Miskiri had 13 points for the Patriots, who had a 10-game winning streak snapped. Miskiri said before the game that the teams were a mirror image because of the defensive pressure.

    "Coach gave us quite an inspirational talk last night," Levett said. "It hit home with me and the other guys who have been here for four years. It was all about team and how it's tough to beat all of us."

    Miskiri agreed with that.

    "I thought we started off pretty well but we got a little fatigued and rushed and they took advantage of that," he said. "They just capitalized all night."

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