Screen Shot 2012-03-09 at 10.29.18 PM

Cincinnati scores upset over No. 2 Syracuse, rolls into title game

1 Comment

NEW YORK—Most of the national attention that Yancy Gates has garnered this season is for a reason that he’d rather put in the past.

But his two-game run so far in the Big East tournament is changing that trend.

Gates had 18 points and seven rebounds as underdog Cincinnati got their biggest win of the season in their biggest game of the season, upsetting No. 2 Syracuse, 71-68, on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

“My guys played with unbelievable toughness,” said Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin. “To be able to battle them on the glass, even with our lack of size…just a tremendous job all around…It’s a huge win for our program.”

With the stands awash in a sea of orange t-shirts in what felt like a home game for Syracuse, Cincinnati was calm, using good ball movement and timely shooting from three-point distance to do what only one other team has done this year: beat Jim Boeheim’s ball club.

New York-area native Sean Kilpatrick added 18 points for the Bearcats on 6-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc, which kicked the rest of Cincinnati’s offensive attack into gear.

“It was big because [the guards] hitting shots really opened it up for me in the middle,” said Gates. “It was pretty much one-on-one with [Syracuse center] Fab Melo.”

A three-point shooting barrage of 8-of-13 for Mick Cronin’s team in the first half set the tone early and also kept Syracuse from getting out in transition, where they have been most effective all season.

The Orange had just two fastbreak points on Friday night, which kept their offense out-of-sync for the most part, with the exception of an impressive 28 points from sophomore Dion Waiters.

So this is where we stand.

A team that was written off at the beginning of the season after a loss to Presbyterian and for being a part of one of the ugliest incidents in the recent history of college basketball, that team stands poised to win a Big East tournament title and score an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

“We were talking about that last night, getting attention for our play and not the mistakes we’ve made,” said Gates. “It’s my senior year and every..player wants to play in the Big East tournament championship game and I’ve got that opportunity tomorrow night.”

They Bearcats will face Louisville, a blowout winner over Notre Dame, in the Big East title game.

Not much changes for Syracuse, though, as they are still in line to have a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

VIDEOS: Rhode Island, Maryland exchange heated words in Cancun

Dan Hurley
Leave a comment

No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.

Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.

But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.

It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:

After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”:

Wayne Selden stars as Kansas wins the title in Maui

Wayne Selden Jr., Jeff Roberson
Leave a comment

The last time we wrote about Wayne Selden in this space, it was my colleague Scott Phillips who questioned, after a poor performance in the Champions Classic, whether or not Selden is capable of bring a primary scorer for a team with NCAA title aspirations.

At the time, it wasn’t an unfair question to ask.

Selden is a former top 15 recruit. He is a guy who was expected to go one-and-done that played poorly in the first big game of his third year on campus. But after three days it Maui, it appears that the old Wayne Selden is gone.

[MORE: Kansas got Cheick Diallo news today]

He capped an MVP performance in the Maui Invitational with 25 points and seven boards on 8-for-11 shooting as the No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks knocked off No. 19 Vanderbilt, 70-63, in the title game. Selden was terrific for the entire weekend, averaging 21.5 points in the two games against Division I competition and shooting 12-for-17 from beyond the arc in the three game tournament.

It was the best that we’ve seen Selden play during his Jayhawk career, and it came in a game the Jayhawks desperately needed it. Vanderbilt is a damn good team. They’re ranked 19th, which may actually be too low, and they seem to clearly be the biggest challenger to Kentucky in the SEC. They jumped out to a double-digit lead on Kansas in the first half as the Jayhawks seemed to be sleep-walking early in the game.

Enter Selden. He drilled three threes in the first half and scored 13 of the 26 Jayhawk points to keep them close. In other words, he played like a star on a night Kansas desperately needed someone to step up and play like a star. Remember: this is a dude that had enough talent and potential in high school to be considered a McDonald’s All-American and a potential lottery pick. The ability is there:

(That move is filthy.)

The question has always been whether or not he is capable of putting it all together, of being the guy that can be relied upon to make the big play in the big moment, to carry a team with title aspirations.

And to be fair, the jury is still out in that regard. Are we just going to ignore those four free throws he clanged down the stretch?

But seeing Selden have this kind of performance in a game like this against a team that is this good is unquestionably a positive for Kansas moving forward.