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Updated: Saturday, March 6, 2004 7:28 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(12) Cincinnati 83, (23) Memphis 79

CINCINNATI (Ticker) -- Sean Banks was on target all day, but James White shut down the Memphis freshman on the game's most important play.

White forced Banks into a late miss and also fed Tony Bobbitt for the go-ahead 3-pointer as No. 12 Cincinnati created a logjam atop Conference USA with an 83-79 victory over the 23rd-ranked Tigers.

Banks poured in 28 points as he was unstoppable for Memphis (21-6, 12-4 C-USA). He made two free throws to give the Tigers their last lead, 79-78, with 56 seconds to go. Cincinnati (21-6, 12-4) answered when White fed Bobbitt for his 3-pointer with 36 seconds left.

"It was the same play we ran against Louisville (when Field Williams hit a game-tying shot)," said Bobbitt, who scored 20 points. "Jason (Maxiell) set a heckuva screen. When I let it go, something in my body told me it was going in."

That set the stage for the 6-8 Banks, who received the ball on the left wing. He raised up for a go-ahead 3-pointer, but the 6-7 White was there to contest it as the shot missed.

Bobbitt made a pair of free throws with 19 seconds remaining for the final margin. It was sweet redemption for the senior, who was 1-of-8 for three points in Thursday's loss to DePaul.

"When he screws up like he did on Thursday, he knows he does and to his credit he tries to change it," Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins said.

The win created a four-way tie for first place, with Cincinnati, Memphis, Alabama-Birmingham and Charlotte sharing the crown. DePaul has a chance to join them with a win at South Florida, which would give the Blue Demons the top seed in the conference tournament.

"This conference has never been stronger," Memphis coach John Calipari said. "There are eight or nine teams thinking they have a shot to win the conference tournament and they're right."

Banks put on a show by draining 10-of-17 shots and scoring 14 points in each half. He fell one shy of his career high.

"He is terrific, he is a lottery pick," Huggins said. "If there are any players in the country better than he is, I haven't seen them."

"I love coach Calipari, but I told Sean that if I were him, I would leave," Bobbitt said. "That kid is for real."

Maxiell netted 19 points and Williams added 16 for Cincinnati in a game that featured eight ties and 21 lead changes. The Bearcats have won five straight home meetings against the Tigers.


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