NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Rebounding has been an issue for Georgia State, and Cincinnati took advantage in a big way.
The second-seeded Bearcats held a whopping 46-26 edge on the boards, leading to 24 second-chance points and a 68-53 win Friday in the opening round of the NCAA South Regional at Bridgestone Arena.
The Bearcats, 31-4 overall, advance to face Nevada, 28-7, which edged Texas, 87-83, in overtime.
“Obviously our size advantage, but that was a big part of the game plan, Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. “If we don’t turn the ball over, we rebound the ball at a high clip, almost 39 percent of our misses we usually get. We thought we would get more than that today if we didn’t turn it over.”
“The Maneater?” Georgia State coach Ron Hunter said. “That’s cool, man. They said the Maneater guys. They man-ate us on the glass. That is about the best I can say. We knew that was going to be a problem. That is what they do. The difference in the game for us was just the rebounding.”
Despite the overwhelming edge on the boards, Cincinnati needed a 21-4 surge in the second half to put the stubborn Panthers away.
The Panthers used a 7-0 run to take a 45-44 lead midway through the second half. That’s when the Bearcats took control.
Cincy’s Kyle Washington scored from the key on a second-chance situation, and after a layup by D’Marcus Simonds, Gary Clark drained a 3-pointer, and Washington scored two straight hoops to make it 53-47 with 6:55 left. Jacob Evans buried a 3-pointer for a 56-47 lead. Georgia State never got closer than seven the rest of the way.
Washington scored nine in the second half, taking a little pressure off Jarron Cumberland, who sparked Cincinnati to a 35-30 halftime lead with 16 of his game-high 27 points.
“I think I was rushing a bit in the first half, and I think I just wanted to contribute for my team,” Washington said. “I had to just read the defense and see how they were playing me a little bit. This team is known for strips and taking the ball away from the post once you turn around and show the ball. I had to have some composure in the second half and my teammates did a good job of finding me. Gary did, Jarron did. I wanted to help my team out however I could.”
Cincinnati used a big 26-14 rebound advantage to grab a 35-30 lead at the half. Fourteen offensive rebounds led to 18 second-chance points.
If it wasn’t the Bearcats dominating on the glass, it was Cumberland dominating everywhere else. Cumberland went 5-for-10 from the floor, including three 3-pointers en route to 16 first-half points.
Despite the dominance on the offensive glass, Cincy didn’t take the lead, 26-25, until 4:46 remained in the half on a follow shot by Cumberland.
D’Marcus Simonds’ 18 points kept Cincy on the losing side of the ledger for the first 15-plus minutes of the half.
Cumberland scored 10 straight to give the No. 2 Bearcats a 31-25 lead. Malik Benlevi ended the drought with a 3-pointer to make it 31-28 with 2:01 left. A triple by Justin Jennifer made it 35-28 before Simonds scored on a layup.