NASHVILLE, Tenn. — With Texas shooting poorly, Cincinnati grabbed a comfortable lead early — maybe a little too comfortable.
The Bearcats faded but still managed to withstand a late rally by Texas to win 65-59 on Friday in the second round of the NCAA tournament’s East Regional.
Sixth-seeded Cincinnati (25-10) jumped out to a 16-2 lead while Texas opened the game 1 of 14 and hit 16 percent for the entire first half.
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.
With 3:44 to play, Texas’ Jonathan Holmes hit a layup to tie the game 52-52, but the Longhorns couldn’t take the lead. Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates hit a shot over Clint Chapman’s head with 1:11 to put Cincinnati ahead 58-52, and the Bearcats hit five free throws in the final 36 seconds.
Gates finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds for Cincinnati. JaQuon Parker added 13 points, Dion Dixon had 12 and Cashmere Wright scored 11.
J’Covan Brown led No. 11 seed Texas (20-14) with 19 points, and Chapman had 10 points and 14 rebounds. Julien Lewis scored 14 points, and Sheldon McClellan added 10.
After drawing the early tip time in Nashville, Texas appeared to sleepwalk through much of the first half. The Longhorns got their first basket off a jumper near the free-throw line by Lewis just over 2 minutes into the game.
Texas wouldn’t score again for another 10:18. A foul by Jermaine Sanders sent Lewis to the free-throw line with 7:30 in the half.
Lewis hit both shots to make it 16-4. The crowd, which had been mostly quiet up until the point, erupted into cheers.
With 40 percent shooting before halftime, Cincinnati wasn’t doing much to impress offensively, either. What the Bearcats were doing was shutting down Texas around the basket in every way possible.
Cincinnati held a 26-18 rebounding advantage at halftime and had outscored the Longhorns 22-6 in the paint while keeping them from getting a single second-chance basket.