NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Breaking down No. 6 seed Cincinnati’s 65-59 victory over No. 11 seed Texas at Bridgestone Arena:
Overview: Maybe it was Cincinnati’s new fluorescent uniforms. Then again, the Bearcats’ defense probably had a lot to do with it. Whatever it was, Texas got off to an awful start shooting the basketball. The Longhorns missed 21 of their 25 field goal attempts in the first half and trailed by as many as 19 points early in the second half.
The reality is that Cincinnati should have been up by more than just 14 points at the half with how poorly Texas shot. With just under 10 minutes to play in the first half, the Longhorns had more air balls (three) than points (two).
Still, Texas made a charge in the second half and got hot from 3-point range. The Longhorns tied the game at 52-52 with 3:44 to play on Jonathan Holmes’ rebound bucket. But in those final minutes, Cincinnati made the plays and Texas didn’t.
Turning point: Texas had clawed all the way back from a 19-point deficit and tied the game at 52-52. The Longhorns had a chance to take the lead, too, but junior guard J’Covan Brown lost the ball with just under three minutes to play. Yancy Gates answered for Cincinnati with a tough basket in the lane, and Cashmere Wright drove the middle a minute later after a Sheldon McClellan missed 3-pointer to give the Bearcats a four-point lead and some breathing room.
Key player: Gates was clutch for the Bearcats. He finished with a team-high 15 points and also grabbed 10 rebounds. His shot in the lane broke a 52-52 tie with just under three minutes to play, and he came back and swished a jumper to seal the deal with 1:10 remaining.
Key stat: Texas shot just 16 percent from the field in the first half (4-of-25) and missed 13 straight shots at one point. The Longhorns started the game by missing 14 of their first 15 shots.
Miscellaneous: The Bearcats were wearing new adidas uniforms that had a number of people breaking out the shades in Bridgestone Arena. The trim was a cross between highlighter pink and neon orange, and the players also wore the same color socks. Those players with black sneakers even donned the same blinding shade of shoestrings. … The teams combined to make just 10-of-36 shots from 3-point range. … Cincinnati outscored Texas 40-20 on points in the paint.
What’s next: Cincinnati (25-10) will face the winner of the Florida State-St. Bonaventure game on Sunday in the third round.