Sooners' defense solid but offense struggles to hit shots; Blair scores team-high 15 points.
Dec. 18, 2010
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) --
Dion Dixon and Cashmere Wright both scored 12 points as Cincinnati remained undefeated with a 66-56 win over Oklahoma Saturday at the All-College Classic.
The Bearcats (10-0) used nine second-half points from forward Yancy Gates to keep the Sooners (5-6) from catching up.
Gates finished with 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting and led the Bearcats in rebounding with seven.
The win was Cincinnati's first outside of Ohio this season and its first against one of college basketball's six power conferences. The unranked Bearcats are one of nine remaining unbeaten teams.
The Bearcats' lead shrunk to seven with a 1:30 left, but they made their free throws to extend their lead late.
"It showed we can stick together and stay focused whether it's ugly or pretty," Gates said. "Games like this you just want to get out of the gym with a win."
It was a game neither coach would call pretty as the Sooners and Bearcats both struggled at making open shots. Cincinnati shot 42 percent, and Oklahoma shot 33.3 percent.
"It was an ugly game on both sides," Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said. "Neither team could make a shot. I don't know if it was good defense or just really bad offense."
Andrew Fitzgerald, Oklahoma's leading scorer coming into the game, struggled on the offensive end against Cincinnati's big men and finished with 10 points. That forced the Sooners to look to their guards for scoring help. However, Oklahoma finished the game 4 of 22 from behind the arc, and guard Cade Davis was 0-for-5 on 3-pointers and 1-for-10 overall.
"It wasn't too difficult to get shots," Davis said. "We got good shots, we just didn't knock them down. I don't think we'll have another game where we shoot this bad."
Cincinnati also struggled from the floor, finishing 21-for-50. Coach Mick Cronin said the Bearcats were impatient at the start of both halves, forcing jump shots instead of going to Gates in the post.
He put this on Wright, who finished the game with 12 points, two assists and three turnovers. Cronin said his team got in its own way on offense.
"I thought we were overconfident early," he said. "Our point guard (Wright) was playing too fast and trying to do too much. He's played really well lately, and that's why we've been scoring so much and our offense has looked so fluid. But guys get excited playing on TV and in an NBA arena, and he's a young kid."
Gates also got in foul trouble in the first half, which put more pressure on Wright and the other guards. Gate had two points in just five minutes at halftime. He said he came out in the second half determined to make a difference.
"Coming back in the second half I tried to come in and be a presence in the middle," Gates said. "I wanted to draw attention."
Cincinnati's pressure defense pestered the Sooners' guards throughout the game. It led to 13 Oklahoma turnovers, a number Cronin said he would have liked to have been higher. Guard Carl Blair, who led the Sooners with 15 points, handled the pressure well for most of the game but was responsible for six of the Sooners' turnovers.
Cincinnati's own struggles with ball security in its half-court offense led to 13 turnovers of its own and helped keep the Bearcats from extending their lead in the second half.
"We didn't play very smart down the stretch," Cronin said. "We put them on the line, and you can't do that with a lead."