Dallas Colleges: Yancy Gates
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Its 19-point lead had been chipped away to nothing, and Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates looked around at his teammates' eyes and liked what he saw.
There wasn’t any panic, only opportunity.
“That’s the way it’s got to be, and that’s the way it’s been all season for us,” Gates said. “We knew they were going to make a run, but we knew we’d be there with an answer. We're used to being in these situations. It's like that every night in the Big East."
Gates did a lot of the answering himself, as No. 6 seed Cincinnati held on to beat 11-seed Texas 65-59 in the second round of the NCAA tournament’s East Regional at Bridgestone Arena.
It was a strange game from the outset, mostly because the basket might as well have been a pin hole for the Longhorns, who were just 4-of-25 from the field in the first half.
“We were up in them pretty good, trying to make everything tough,” said Cincinnati senior guard Dion Dixon, who helped hold Texas’ leading scorer, J'Covan Brown, to 6-of-15 shooting and five turnovers.
“There were some shots that they just missed, but our defense was pretty good. It wasn’t as good as it needed to be when they made their comeback, and that’s something you can’t have. The important thing is getting stops when you’ve got to have them.”
Gates, who led the Bearcats with 15 points and 10 rebounds, made perhaps the biggest shot of the game when he absorbed contact then buried his leaning hook in the lane to put Cincinnati back on top 54-52 with just under three minutes to play.
His basket came after Texas had come all the way back from 19 points down early in the second half. The Longhorns actually had a chance to take the lead, but Brown lost the ball out front.
Gates knew the Bearcats couldn’t give the Longhorns any more openings.
“We got those stops, and we knew we had to turn those stops into some points,” Gates said.
The 6-foot-9 senior added a jumper from just inside the 3-point line to put the Longhorns away once and for all with 1:14 to play. It was almost as if Texas senior center Clint Chapman dared him to take it, and Gates didn’t hesitate.
“It was just confidence, even from teammates telling me to shoot it earlier in the game, where early in the season, I wouldn’t have shot that,” Gates said.
Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said Gates is a different player from the one who was suspended for six games after throwing punches in the Xavier brawl back in December. It's a big reason the Bearcats (25-10) have won eight of their last 10 games and are pointing toward a deep March run.
“You know, he’s come a long ways. ... He’s matured so much as a player,” Cronin said. “I’ve just got to make sure I get him rest. That’s the biggest issue at times. In the second half, I should have gotten him out earlier, and I didn’t get him early rest.”
Even with its rotten start, Texas (20-14) managed to claw its way back into the game.
But when the Longhorns had chances at the end, they couldn’t capitalize.
"Defensively, I thought we played hard throughout, but we tied the game and actually had two chances to take the lead, and sort of where our season has been, [we] turned it over and [didn’t get] a very good shot," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "But I’m really proud of the fact that these guys fought.”
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.
No. 6 seed Cincinnati (24-10) vs. No. 11 Texas (20-13), 12:15 p.m. ET
What to watch: Seeing the way Cincinnati scrapped its way into the Big East Conference championship game, it’s hard not to peg the Bearcats as one of those teams in the field playing its best basketball right now. They’ve won seven of their past nine games and lead the country with seven victories over ranked teams. Texas, on the other hand, enters the tourney trying to find some consistency after losing four of its past seven games. There’s no better time to find that mojo than right now. There were a lot of people who wondered if the Longhorns would even make the tournament. Here’s their chance to prove that they belong.
Who to watch: Texas guard J'Covan Brown can score points in bunches, and when he gets it going, he’s a headache to defend. The 6-foot-1 junior has averaged 24.8 points over his past four games and has scored at least 21 in each of those four. He leads the Big 12 in scoring at 20.1 points per game, but hasn’t shot it particularly well from 3-point range coming into this game. In his past five outings, he’s just 6-of-30 from behind the arc. Brown takes 28 percent of his team’s shots.
Why to watch: The Bearcats have been one of the turnaround stories this season in college basketball, but it goes much deeper than just hoops. The ugly scenes from their fight with Xavier on Dec. 10 remain etched in a lot of people’s minds, but Cincinnati recovered from multiple player suspensions -- and showing a new resolve along the way -- and played its way into the Big East tournament final. One of the catalysts has been senior forward Yancy Gates, who was suspended six games for his role in the brawl. When he returned, the Bearcats tweaked their offense to better utilize Gates’ offensive rebounding prowess, and they took off as a team -- winning seven of their nine games against ranked foes.
What they’re saying: “We had a chance to win the Big East tournament, which nobody expected us to do, and hopefully, we’ll do the unexpected and win games here, which nobody probably expects us to do. We’ll just do what we’ve been doing and keep playing against the odds and trying to prove people wrong.” -- Cincinnati forward Yancy Gates
“I’ve told my team all year if we would work as hard on the offensive end as we do on the defensive end, we’d be a much better team. And at times where I don’t think we’ve improved or shown the improvement is with our offense.” -- Texas coach Rick Barnes
Around the rim: This is the sixth time that Texas has been a double-digit seed in the NCAA tournament. Each of the previous five times, the Longhorns won at least one game in the tournament. … The Cincinnati-Texas game will tip off at 11:15 a.m. local time in Nashville, and the Cincinnati players haven’t been crazy about playing early games this season. Nobody was complaining Thursday, though. “It’s the NCAA tournament. If you can’t get up at whatever time the game is, you shouldn’t be here,” Cincinnati guard Cashmere Wright said. … Before Cincinnati boarded the bus for Nashville, coach Mick Cronin took the players into the UC Arena and had them look up at the Bearcats’ national championship banners. “I just think you’ve got to believe that you can win it, and I think my guys need to realize that it’s possible and that it’s happened at the University of Cincinnati. We’ve got to believe that it’s going to happen again,” Cronin said.
No. 3 seed Florida State (24-9) vs. No. 14 St. Bonaventure (20-11), 2:45 p.m. ET
What to watch: Is Florida State as good as it looked last weekend in gunning down Duke and North Carolina in back-to-back days to win the ACC tournament title? Granted, Duke and North Carolina didn’t have a lot to gain in Atlanta, but it’s not the first time the Seminoles have turned Tobacco Road upside down this season. Leonard Hamilton’s club beat North Carolina 90-57 at home Jan. 14, then won at Duke 76-73 a week later. It’s the first time in 16 seasons that somebody has recorded two victories over both Duke and North Carolina in the same season. That’s some pretty heady stuff. The trick now for Florida State is playing that way in the March tournament that counts.
Who to watch: Florida State senior forward Bernard James served six years in the Air Force, including deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Qatar. Now 27, the 6-10 James has been as valuable to his basketball team as he was to his country. An All-ACC Defensive Team selection, James ranks third in the ACC with 76 blocked shots, while averaging 10.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. He will be honored at the Final Four along with Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt and presented with the Most Courageous Award by the United States Basketball Writers Association.
Why to watch: St. Bonaventure is back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since a scandal rocked the university during the 2002-03 season. The Bonnies played an ineligible player that season after a junior-college transfer was admitted to the university with a welding degree and no associate’s degree. The fallout included the firing of coach Jan van Breda Kolff and the resignation of the athletic director and school president. A few months later, Bill Swan, the president of the university’s board of trustees, committed suicide and left a note apologizing for the pain he caused St. Bonaventure as well as his family and friends. The next four seasons saw the Bonnies win a combined 24 games, but coach Mark Schmidt was hired in 2007 and has steadily led the program back to respectability. St. Bonaventure won its first Atlantic 10 tournament championship last Sunday.
What they’re saying: “Andrew (Nicholson) is the player of the year, so he does what players of the year do, and that’s put the team on their back and kind of sail the ship.” -- St. Bonaventure guard Matthew Wright
“We’re definitely expecting a punch right out of the gate. We’re going to throw one ourselves.” -- Florida State forward Bernard James
Around the rim: Florida State is ranked sixth nationally in field goal percentage defense (.381) and seventh in blocked shots (5.9 per game). … In the Seminoles’ past four games, they’re shooting 50 percent (34-of-68) from 3-point range and keeping their opponents to 29.2 percent (26-of-89) from behind the line. … The Bonnies received quite a send-off before leaving their campus in western New York. Schmidt said it seemed like 15,000 of the 20,000 people who live in the Allegheny community lined the roads. “They let the kids out of schools, and we had our bus go through all the little towns, by all the elementary schools, all the businesses, and it was special,” Schmidt said. … Nicholson, a senior forward and the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, has been on a tear. He averaged 25.3 points and 11.5 rebounds in his final eight conference games.
For full coverage of all the top matchups, check out Weekend Watch.
No. 5 Missouri at No. 3 Baylor (1 p.m. CT, ESPN):
Missouri: The Tigers might have the quickest lineup in college basketball. Frank Haith's guards have been very efficient, and have made much better decisions on offense and defense this season. Missouri can still fall into some "chuck and duck" habits, which worked well under Mike Anderson but does not fit with the style favored by Haith.
Baylor: The Bears are big, long, athletic and deep along the front line, and have one of the most talented frontcourts in the country. Perry Jones III, Quincy Acy, Quincy Miller, Anthony Jones and Cory Jefferson provide the bodies and length to overwhelm a smaller team on the glass and the defensive end.
Before the season, I was one who questioned the Baylor guards and whether the Bears would be able to improve ball security. Last season, Baylor turned the ball over at a very high rate. Turnovers are still an issue, but this team is much better with the ball. Guards Brady Heslip, A.J. Walton and Pierre Jackson are far better than I anticipated, and Jackson is a game-changing talent. He has the ability to guard the ball, see the floor with terrific vision and play with a fearlessness that allows his teammates to do their jobs without worrying about his.
Key players: Denmon and Jackson. Denmon scratches in just about every category for the Tigers and is an attack guard. Denmon excels in transition, and Baylor can afford to put Walton, Jackson or a defender with more size on him. Denmon is a very good defender but might have some issues matching up with bigger Baylor players. Jackson is incredibly strong and athletic, and has the ability to guard Pressey and Denmon. If he can stay out of foul difficulty, Jackson has the ability to change the game with his pressure and steals. On the offensive end, Jackson is a potent scorer, but he is also a fabulous passer. He will get a lob dunk from deep for a teammate; you can bank on it. However, he also has 64 turnovers to go with his 98 assists.
Key shooters: Heslip and English. Heslip transferred from Boston College and has a really quick release. He has hit 51 3s, by far the most on the Baylor roster, and is shooting 47 percent from 3. English is shooting better than 50 percent from deep, and his stroke is pure. He has hit 45 3s in only 88 attempts.
Key bigs: Ratliffe and Perry Jones III. Ratliffe plays off his guards very well but must avoid fouls to be able to stay in the game. Without Ratliffe, Missouri can get overwhelmed on the glass. Jones is a special talent. He needs to be assertive and dominate his matchup. No player on the Missouri roster can guard him.
Key stat: Turnovers and rebounding. Baylor should own the backboards but also has to get to long rebounds, which will be an issue in this game. Baylor turned the ball over against the pressure of Kansas and needs to take care of the ball against the pressure brought by Missouri. Pressey's initial ball pressure will be key.
Who wins: Baylor is coming off a loss and playing at home. How the Bears guard the 3-point line will go a long way in determining this one. Expect Baylor to play some man-to-man in addition to some zone. If the Bears take good shots and limit Missouri in transition, I like the Bears to win. Baylor 74-70.
No. 7 Kansas at Texas (3 p.m. Saturday): Kansas is playing at such a high level that the Jayhawks would have to come down a few notches if they’re going to lose at erratic Texas. The Longhorns don’t have the strength to deal with Thomas Robinson. I’d be surprised if Kansas loses this game.
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