If basketball was a sport where every shot had to be taken 10 feet or more away from the basket, then Missouri might have had a chance against Cincinnati tonight. But unfortunately, as we all know, that is not the case at all, and tonight the Bearcats abused the Tigers most glaring deficiency en route to their first NCAA Tournament victory since 2005.
Unable to defend the post, the Bearcats sustained a double-digit first half lead by scoring their first nine second half field goals right around the basket. The tactic was so effective it became laughable, as what appeared as mis-matches were just undersized Mizzou forwards attempting to guard behemoth Bearcats frontcourt players, highlighted by Yancy Gates who led all scorers with a game high 18 points. Despite a slow tempo, UC still managed to score a cool 78 points, due in large part to lay-ins and baby hooks, attributing to the team’s highly efficient 53 percent field goal percentage.
Because it was done in fairly convincing fashion, we may be overlooking the fact that this victory may have saved Mick Cronin’s job. The program’s biggest win since he was hired as head coach in 2006, many Bearcat fans have been hoping for a bit more out of his tenure, but this may be just what’s need to spark a tournament run. It will be very interesting to see if Cincinnati’s frontcourt is able to prevail against UConn’s backcourt in round two, and I think that the showing UC put out tonight makes Saturday’s match-up just a wee bit more intriguing.