In the first half of Monday's game at Georgetown, Yancy Gates did exactly what a big guy is supposed to do on offense - he used his size and strength to get close to the basket, squared his shoulders toward the rim, and went up with authority.
And he still couldn't make a shot.
"Oh man - it was just one of those nights," Gates told me after the game. "Those were shots that I can make in my sleep, but I really wasn't frustrated by it. I was just trying to find other ways to get into the game."
Yancy finished with modest stats - 8 points and 7 rebounds - but head coach Mick Cronin said that the senior from Withrow High was a big key in the Bearcats 68-64 win over the 11th-rated Hoyas.
"I've never been more proud of Yancy Gates," said Coach Cronin. "He had 10 deflections which for him is off the charts. For any big guy - that's off the charts."
"I think that was a career high," Gates said with a laugh. "I had to find some way to contribute, so I tried to smack the ball around."
Gates spent most of the game guarding Georgetown center Henry Sims and forced him to commit five turnovers.
"Yancy played through a lot of things tonight that have been a challenge throughout his career," said Coach Cronin. "We do not win this game if he doesn't hang in there mentally with his defense. That was a huge, huge effort from him on the defensive end. A lot of other guys did a lot of things, but that was big for us."
The Bearcats managed to win even though Georgetown shot 59% overall and 60% (6-for-10) from 3-point range. UC overcame the Hoyas' hot shooting by forcing nearly twice as many turnovers (17) as they committed (9).
"Georgetown is the most precise offensive team in the Big East," said Coach Cronin. "They always shoot a high percentage, so what you have to do is get some turnovers. If you don't disrupt them at all, they'll just carve you to death. To get 17 turnovers was huge for us. Points off turnovers was the difference in the game - it was 20-7 for us. The kids are so committed to getting deflections right now - we ended up with 34 tonight and against Georgetown, that's a monster number."
"When you get deflections, it disrupts the other team's offense and helps keep them out of rhythm," said Gates. "Even if you deflect it and don't get it, they still have to run and pick it up and reset. That's been the focus since I got back so I've tried to be a part of it."
The win improved Cincinnati's record to 13-4 overall and 3-1 in the Big East and atoned for Saturday's discouraging home loss to St. John's.
"It's was a great win for our team - it shows them what we're capable of. But so does (last) Saturday," said Coach Cronin. "As (assistant coach) Darren Savino likes to say, 'You're a peacock today and a feather duster tomorrow.' The danger with this team is complacency. I have to find ways to keep these guys locked in. It's a long grind and we have to make sure that guys are showing up to play on game day. When they throw that ball up, you've got to be locked in and ready to go. In this league, anybody can beat anybody."
"We felt like we gave a home game away on Saturday," said Gates. "The good thing about playing in the Big East is that you lose that game, but you have a chance to come to a place like Georgetown and get a win. Saturday we play Villanova at home so we need to get another win and keep rolling."
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