Gates leads Cincinnati over No. 24 Vanderbilt
LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP)—Yancy Gates was ready to go as soon as breakfast was over.
The 6-foot-9, 260-pound forward scored 12 points in an 18-2 first-half run that set the tone for Cincinnati’s 67-58 victory over No. 24 Vanderbilt on Monday in the first round of the EA Sports Maui Invitational.
“We were really focused at breakfast this morning,” Gates said of the game that started at 12:30 p.m. “There wasn’t a lot of running around. I felt ready to go from the tipoff. The players were asking me, `Are you ready?’ My game plan was to be ready to go on the glass. I was able to get out ahead and get some easy buckets. That really got me going.”
Cincinnati will face No. 21 Maryland, which beat Division II Chaminade 79-51, in the semifinals on Tuesday.
“I think this is a statement game for us,” Gates said. “We were actually watching it this morning, me and my roommate. We watched it and we saw they were No. 24 and that kind of gave me some incentive. We feel we needed to get the win and after breakfast some of the guys were texting about it.”
Ranked for the first time since March 17, 2008, the Commodores (2-1) didn’t come out like a team that broke into the Top 25 earlier Monday.
“The right team won. They were much more aggressive, much more physical,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. “We certainly congratulate them. They did the things to us we wanted to do to them.”
Behind Gates, the Bearcats (3-0) broke from a 4-4 tie to take a 22-6 lead midway through the first half. Gates finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while reserve Dion Dixon added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
“I thought our players came out with tremendous effort today,” Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. “That was the best defensive effort of the year. We finally played defense like we have in practice. Our rebounding was the best I have had as head coach here and our defensive rebounding carried us.”
Jarmaine Beal had 16 points for Vanderbilt, which was 14 of 51 (27.5 percent) from the field.
The Bearcats outrebounded the Commodores 53-32.
Stallings, who got a technical foul in the second half, said it wasn’t just Gates who dominated.
“We make all-stars out of everybody. We are just kind of used to that at this point it wasn’t just him,” Stallings said. “At halftime he had almost as many offensive rebounds as my team had defensive rebounds, so that is kind of embarrassing.”
Cronin said his team was able to overcome its own poor shooting. The Bearcats were 27 of 68 (39.7 percent) for the game, including 3 of 15 from 3-point range.
“We were able to overcome a poor shooting effort and we are better shooting team than that,” Cronin said. “It is encouraging to beat a Top 25 team when you shoot like that.”