Three Key Takeaways.
- Stifling First Half Bearcat Defense. Cincinnati gained control of this game in the first half by pressuring Texas on the perimeter and not giving the Longhorns good looks. Texas went 4-25 in the first half and trailed by 14 at the break. Certainly, they missed some easy looks, but the Bearcats’ intensity should be credited for the atrocious shooting. The Longhorns battled all the way back to tie the game, but Cincinnati’s lead was too much for Texas to overcome.
- Dominating the Glass. Cincinnati is not known as a great rebounding team, as its size limits its ability in that area, but the Bearcats dominated the boards in the first half (26-18), and limited the Longhorns’ second-chance points. Considering the number of opportunities Texas had for offensive boards, this was a key to Cincinnati’s success. The eventual rebounding advantage for the Bearcats was +6, and given that the Longhorns outrebounded their opponents on the season, this stat had to please Cincinnati Coach Mick Cronin.
- What can (J’Covan) Brown do for you? On this day, if you’re Texas, simply not enough. While the Big 12’s leading scorer ended up close to his 20-point per game average, he was largely ineffective in the first half, when the Longhorns dug themselves too deep a hole from which to recover.
Star of the Game. Yancy Gates. The senior from Cincinnati scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. More importantly, after Texas tied the game at 52, Gates made a nice post move to give the Bearcats the lead, and a 17-foot fadeaway to help seal it.
Quotable. “I’m not gonna answer that question. I’ll talk to coach and we’ll figure that out later.” – Brown, on whether he would return for his senior season.
Sights and Sounds. A dull environment in the first half because of Texas’s awful play, the Bridgestone Arena came alive in the second half as the Longhorns improbably erased what had become a 19-point deficit early. After a day of forgettable games Thursday, it was good to see a more electric environment for a first-round game.
What’s Next? Cincinnati awaits the winner of Florida State-St. Bonaventure. If the third-seeded Seminoles can handle their business against the Bonnies, it appears that we’ll see a tough defensive battle on Sunday.