Bearcats Back Where They Belong

Having never lost faith in his ability to rebuild the depleted basketball program he took over, Mick Cronin has the University of Cincinnati back where they belong on the winning side of an NCAA Tournament game.

Thursday night, Cronin guided his team to a 78-63 victory over Missouri using defense, a deep bench, and the power of big man Yancy Gates who would score 18 points and 11 rebounds in the win.

Gates, who stated he would be returning for his senior season, has been playing the best basketball of his career in the past several weeks after a few days of turmoil.

Missouri, who failed to get production from their bench in the first half, saw four players reach double figures on the night, but shot only 38% from the field in the loss.

The Bearcats also got solid performances from Dion Dixon (16 points) and Cashmere Wright (11 points, 7 assists) in the much-anticipated next step in the recovery of the Bearcats proud hoop program.

Despite the exciting victory, Cronin will have to get his team ready to battle Big East foe Connecticut, Saturday, at 9:40 p.m. ET.

It is hard to believe it has been six years since Cincinnati won an NCAA tournament game when it defeated Iowa under former Bearcats coach Bob Huggins. While some felt the Bearcats could rebuild quickly under Cronin, the mess left behind prior to Cronin's arrival from Murray State, proved deeper and more severe than expected.

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