In a tournament lacking a signature buzzer-beater throughout its opening weekend, Dion Dixon’s steal and subsequent dunk might go down as the most remembered play — by those watching a game that ended after midnight on the east coast.
After teammate Yancey Gates made two free throws to tie the game with 1 minute 40 seconds left, Dixon stole a pass in the back court and went in for an uncontested dunk that sparked sixth-seeded Cincinnati to a 62-56 victory over third-seeded Florida State in an East Region round-of-32 game Sunday in Nashville.
Florida State came unraveled after the turnover and Cincinnati made its free throws to secure a Sweet 16 meeting against second-seeded Ohio State on Thursday night in Boston. Joined by Xavier and Ohio, there are four teams from the Buckeye State in the final 16, the first time any state has advanced so many teams this deep in the tournament.
It will be the Bearcats’ first Sweet 16 appearance since 2001.
The night’s final game — sorry that it ended to late, student-athletes — was a slugfest throughout. Until the final minute, neither team led by more than three points in the second half.
Sean Kilpatrick (18 points) made a pair of big three-pointers for Cincinnati, but ACC champion Florida State kept responding and went ahead, 50-49, on two free throws by Luke Loucks with two minutes left.
Cincinnati, which continually worked the shot clock to its final seconds, went to Gates on its next possession and he made the second of two free throw to tie it 50-50.
As Florida State brought the ball upcourt, Dixon made the play of the night, intercepting a pass for the play that changed the game.
“I seen him looking back so I was cheating a little bit and got the steal,” said Dixon, who scored 15 points. “It was a momentum swing.”
Loucks led Florida State with 14 points.
Box score: Cincinnati 62, Florida State 56
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