NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 09: Dion Dixon #3 of the Cincinnati Bearcats dribbles passed Shaun Noriega #22 of the South Florida Bulls during the second round of the 2011 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament presented by American Eagle Outfitters at Madison Square Garden on March 9, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
This version of Yancy Gates is pretty fucking scary for anyone who has to face this UC team. I am not going to go into any sort of histrionics about how an active and interested Yancy Gates is an absolute game changer for any opposing defense. All of that is true but discussing that topic is at this point pretty tirite. This version of Gates is the new reality and when he plays at this level the Bearcats are a nightmare.
Beyond Yancy Dion Dixon has also lit it up of late. This is something that has flown way under the radar. The conflict between Cronin and Gates made for a much more interesting story, and as such it was hammered home for about two solid weeks. No one has really talked about the fact that Gates had a starting partner on the bench during that same stretch, and it was Dion Dixon. For two weeks Larry Davis drew the start over Dixon. Dion was in a bit of a slump at the time, but Davis was in an even worse slump when he was starting. But since returning to the starting lineup Dixon has been on a tear. He has gone for at least 12 points in six of his last eight games, capped with a very, very quiet 21 points.
The performances of Gates and Dixon are going to draw rave reviews and a ton of headlines across the nation and will probably be featured heavily in the SportsCenter package that will run for the next 22 hours. That is all well and good, both were exceptional. But as ever UC won because of defense. 35 per cent from the field and 33 from three will win a lot of games for teams. With this performance UC has held 6 of the last 8 opponents to under 40 per cent from the floor. That kind of consistency on the defensive end is going to be the key for UC to go on a BET run.