At times this season, fans and experts have questioned the determination and dedication of Yancy Gates. During his Cincinnati Bearcats' second round NCAA Tournament matchup on Friday, Gates defined determination, willing his team to hold on to a hard-fought victory over the Texas Longhorns, 65-59.
The sixth-seed Bearcats shot out to a fast start against Texas on Friday and then held on for dear life as the Longhorns stampeded back into contention. "We came out strong, considering it was an early game," Cincinnati senior guard Dion Dixon said.
UC (25-10) advanced to play Sunday against No. 3 seed Florida State, which staged a comeback to beat St. Bonaventure, 66-63. The Seminoles, who won the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, are 25-9. The freshman-laden Longhorns (20-14) saw their season come to an end.
Cincinnati exploited the youth and lack of size of Texas to control the first half. At times, Gates seemed to have free reign in the paint. The Bearcats led by as much as 19 points early, taking advantage of 17% shooting in the first half by the 'Horns.
After trailing 31-17 at halftime, the young Longhorns attacked, hitting five of their first seven from 3-point range and shooting 50 percent for the second half. They found the paint a bit more friendly, too, after being shut down there in the first half.
The Bearcats' huge first-half lead was completely erased when Texas tied the game at 52 with just over 3 1/2 minutes remaining.
Cincinnati's experience and maturity, however, kept them from giving up. "We showed our experience by finishing the game off," said Dixon. "We showed our experience down the stretch."
"In order to advance at this time, you're going to be playing the best teams, so you have to be able to win the games in the last two, three minutes," Gates said. "Today I think gives us the confidence, as we move on, to be able to focus and step up and make plays that are at the end of the stretch of the game."
Gates finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds for Cincinnati. JaQuon Parker added 13 points, Dixon had 12 and Wright scored 11.
For updates when Cincinnati Bearcats news breaks, subscribe above.
Follow Joshua on Twitter @CincyBurns.