WASHINGTON D.C. -- A quick look at Cincinnati's 78-63 win against Missouri from the Verizon Center.
Overview: The Bearcats dictated the tempo and the game. Cincinnati relied on the inside presence of Yancy Gates and Ibrahima Thomas but also trusted its backcourt of Cashmere Wright and Dion Dixon to handle Missouri's pressure. Meanwhile, the Tigers limped out of the NCAA tournament much like they limped out of the season. Missouri struggled to score, which means it couldn’t start its press, which equated to disaster.
Turning point: Mizzou failed to hit a field goal in the final 7:25 of the first half and Cincinnati took advantage. The Bearcats easily picked apart the Tigers’ halfcourt defense, turning a tight game into a 39-28 advantage at the break. Though Missouri made it interesting in the second half -- cutting the deficeit to six points -- the Tigers could never overcome their early inefficiency.
Key player: Cashmere Wright handled Missouri’s pressure -- when the Tigers were able to apply it -- and directed the offense inside. Wright dished out six assists to just three turnovers, to go along with 11 points.
Key stat: Cincinnati committed only nine turnovers, a critical number against the Missouri pressure.
Miscellaneous: Cincinnati won its first NCAA tournament game since 2005 when Bob Huggins was head coach. ... Simple game to figure out: Missouri’s fastest 40 minutes is predicated on pressing. You can’t press if you can’t score or shoot and the Tigers struggled to do both.
What’s next: Welcome to the Big East tournament Part II. Here on Georgetown’s homecourt, three of the four teams in play on Saturday will be from the Big East now that Cincinnati advances to meet Connecticut. The two played one another just once in the regular season, with the Huskies winning, 67-59.