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

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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 JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

POSTERIZED: Pensacola State’s Jamal Thomas dunks through block attempt, makes coach go nuts

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A solid poster dunk went down in the junior college ranks last night as Pensacola State sophomore Jamal Thomas finished a dunk through a block attempt against Northwest Florida State.

The 6-foot-3 Thomas used his power and momentum to go through the opposing shot blocker and the play made his head coach, Pete Pena, go nuts with an over-exaggerated fist pump. The video is short, but be sure to watch for Pena’s reaction near the logo at the top right of the screen.

VIDEO: Boise State robbed of insane, buzzer-beating win on incorrect timing by officials

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It looked like James Webb III of Boise State had hit the season’s craziest buzzer-beater.

With 0.8 seconds left, he caught an in-bounds pass on the run on the right wing, hoisted up a prayer of a three and watched as it banked it as the buzzer sounded.

It’s pretty fantastic:

And it also clearly left his hands before time expired, but there was a reason for that. According to the officials, the clock (for the road team, mind you) did not start when the ball was caught.

They were right.

Where they were wrong was determining that it took more than a second for Webb to catch and release the shot, meaning that they were wrong to waive off the bucket.

This awesome slo-mo clip of the shot from Matt Stephens of the Coloradoan is all the evidence I need, but if you need more, Sportscenter anchor Scott Van Pelt clocked it at 0.7 seconds:

The game would go to overtime, where Colorado State would go on to win, 97-93.

As you can imagine, Boise State players and coaches were livid with the call.

“I hope it’s not a situation where you get an apology later but don’t get the win. I don’t understand it,” head coach Leon Rice said in a radio interview after the game. “I hope they got it right somehow, some way. I don’t know. It didn’t look right to me, but I’m not the official.”

This comes just four days after officials blew a call in a game between New Mexico and San Diego State that allowed the Aztecs to force overtime and eventually beat the Lobos. (That call may have determined the outcome of the Mountain West regular season title, to boot.)

New Mexico was essentially told, “my bad”, but the league as a result.

And Boise State will probably get the same treatment despite the fact that, if the league determines that the referees botched this call as well, the tame technically was over then.

Will they have the guts to award the Broncos a road win that they earned and deserve?

I doubt it.

UPDATE: Here’s a statement from the officiating crew: