Cincinnati holds off Texas
Nashville, TN (Sports Network) - Cincinnati wasted all of a 19-point lead, but Yancy Gates made sure the Bearcats didn't completely fold.
Gates scored four of his 15 points during a critical six-point burst in the final minutes, helping Cincinnati to a 65-59 victory over Texas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Jaquon Parker helped the Big East Tournament runners-up build an early 16-2 advantage and finished with 13 points for the Bearcats (25-10), who are seeded sixth in the East Region and will next face Florida State in Sunday's third round.
J'Covan Brown scored 19 points and Julien Lewis added 14 for Texas (20-14), which was making its 14th straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The Longhorns, who went more than 10 minutes without a point in the opening half, have lost their opening tournament game twice in the past three years.
Texas rallied from a 19-point deficit in the second half and had a chance to take the lead with just under three minutes to play, but turned the ball over.
Cincinnati then reeled off the next six points to re-assert control. Gates put the Bearcats back on top with a hook shot in the lane and Sheldon McClellan missed everything on three-point try at the other end.
Cashmere Wright drove straight down the lane for a Cincinnati bucket and Brown missed from beyond the arc for the Longhorns before Gates drilled a 15-foot jumper to make it 58-52 with 1:10 remaining.
The Longhorns, trailing by four with less than 40 seconds to play, elected to start sending the Big East's worst free throw shooting team to the line. Dion Dixon swished home a pair for a 62-56 edge and the Bearcats added three more from the stripe while Texas managed only a Brown three in the closing moments.
"We've been in so many battles in the Big East over the last three and four years with these guys that I think it served us well," said Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin. "We probably are more comfortable playing if it's a close game."
Cincinnati finished just 8-of-16 from the line overall, but shot 45.8 percent from the field. The Bearcats outscored the Longhorns, 40-20, in the paint.
Gates was a big reason. He made 7-of-12 shots, while also grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking three shots. Dixon finished with 12 points and Wright scored 11 to go with six rebounds and five assists.
Cincinnati carried a 31-17 lead to the intermission and scored the first five points of the second half for a 19-point cushion, but Texas didn't roll over.
An 11-2 run, featuring back-to-back three-pointers by McClellan, pulled the Longhorns within 40-30 with just over 13 minutes to play. It was a nine-point difference four minutes later after Parker buried a jumper for the Bearcats.
Texas, though, scored 12 of the next 15 and tied it at 52-52 when Jonathan Holmes followed Clint Chapman's miss with a layup with 3:44 remaining.
Chapman contributed 10 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks for Texas, while McClellan finished with 10 points.
It was all Bearcats early.
After Parker's layup gave Cincinnati a 3-0 lead, Lewis hit a jumper for Texas. The Longhorns didn't score again for another 10:18.
The Bearcats followed with 13 straight points and Parker's three-pointer made it 16-2 before Lewis hit a pair of free throws with 7 1/2 minutes remaining in the half to end the Texas drought. It also drew cheers from the crowd.
Cincinnati led by as many as 15 and the Longhorns got as close as 11, but Sean Kilpatrick drained a three-pointer in the waning seconds to send the Bearcats to the break with a 14-point cushion.
"We were just inept at the start of the game," said Texas head coach Rick Barnes.
The Bearcats are making their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance after a five-year absence. They were third-round losers to eventual champion Connecticut last year...Cincinnati beat Texas in the 1963 NCAA Tournament in the lone previous meeting between the programs.
03/16 17:14:23 ET