Friday, March 18, 2011, 2:16 a.m.
NCAA TOURNAMENT CENTRAL
By Ryan OHalloran
After struggling throughout and falling behind by 13 points, Missouris offense was finally getting untracked early in the second half, chipping away at Cincinnatis lead in the teams second round NCAA tournament game Thursday.
I thought we were getting ready to make a run, Mizzou coach Mike Anderson said.
Too bad his team couldnt make a stop.
In the nightcap of an underwhelming day of basketball at Verizon Center, Cincinnati shot 53.7 percent from the field and had four players in double figures in its 78-63 win over Missouri.
The Bearcars, the No. 6 seed, faces No. 3 seedBig East rival Connecticut Saturday at 9:40 p.m.
Cincinnati was playing its first tournament game since Bob Huggins was still in charge (2005) and a win over UConn sends the Bearcats to the second week for the first time in 10 years.
This is big, said forward Yancy Gates, who led UC with 18 points. We watched ESPN and a lot of people had us losing because it was our first time here.
Dion Dixon (16), Cashmere Wright (11) and Sean Kilpatrick (10) complimented Gates in Cincinnatis balanced scoring ledger.
The Bearcats shot 46.7 percent in the first half and 62.5 percent in the second half. They corralled 13 offensive rebounds. And they had only 11 turnovers against Missouris pressure defense.
Its hard to get into your defense when youre not making shots, Mizzou guard Marcus Denmon said. You can keep playing defense for 40 minutes but eventually you have to put the ball in the basket.
Playing on a bum knee, Wright handled the ball-handling throughout and had only three turnovers in 32 minutes.
They kept coming at us and we knew it was going to happen, he said. We were ready.
Nerves may have gotten the best of Cincinnati early on -- it fell behind 9-2 before building a 39-28 halftime lead.
Missouri got into striking range with two quick buckets to make it 54-48 at the 10:34 mark. But the Tigers defense simply wasnt up to snuff and the Bearcats eventually led by as many as 19 points.
Missouri (23-11), which lost five of its last six games, also had four players in double figures but its starting three guards hit only seven of 21 field goals.
Most telling about how things went for both teams was that Gates had only one fewer 3-pointer than (two) than the trio of Denmon, Michael Dixon and Kim English.
Yates entered the game with three 3-pointers in 99 career games.
On one, the shot clock was running down; the second one, I dont know really, I was in rhythm and felt like it was a good shot, said Yates as two teammates and coach Mick Cronin howled in delight.
Yates made seven of his eight shots and also grabbed 11 rebounds.
Contact Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org