NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Apparently, the NCAA selection committee was justified for relegating Cincinnati to a second seed despite the protests of Bob Huggins.
Freshman guard Dante Swanson and Marcus Hill ignited a decisive 14-0 run with 3-pointers and seventh-seeded Tulsa rallied to beat the Bearcats, 69-61, in a second-round South Region game.
Tulsa (31-4) advanced to the "Sweet 16" for the first time since 1995.
"We are to be taken seriously," Hill said. "We believed we could do this. I don't know how many people in the country have heard of us, but we are for real." Cincinnati (29-4), which went from tournament favorite to a shaky No. 2 seed after All-American center Kenyon Martin suffered a broken leg in a March 9 game, collapsed down the stretch and lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight year under coach Huggins.
After Cincinnati was bumped from a No. 1 seed in the wake of Martin's season-ending injury, Huggins was upset by what he perceived to be a "lack of respect" from the committee.
However, the Bearcats sorely missed Martin's inside presence and justified the committee's decision. Along with shooting just 35 percent from the field (19-of-54), Cincinnati was outrebounded by the Golden Hurricane, 44-39.
"We obviously had to change a lot of things without Kenyon, but I thought we could advance," Huggins said. "Give Tulsa a lot of credit. That's a very balanced, well-coached team." Eric Coley led Tulsa with 16 points and 16 rebounds. Swanson and David Shelton finished with 14 points apiece.
"This is no fluke," Swanson said. "We've been a consistent team all season and we think we can go even further in this tournament. We're a hungry bunch." After Ryan Fletcher made a pair of free throws to give Cincinnati a 50-45 advantage with 8:07 remaining, Swanson and Hill hit back-to-back 21-foot jumpers to give Tulsa the lead for good.
While the Bearcats went nearly four minutes without a point, Greg Harrington made a pair of layups and Swanson and Eric Coley each added a layup to open a 59-50 lead for Tulsa with 4:43 left.
A layup by Fletcher ended Cincinnati's drought with 4:19 remaining.
After a pair of free throws by Pete Mickeal pulled the Bearcats within 61-56 with 3:04 left, Harrington hit a 13-foot jumper and Tony Heard converted a layup to increase Tulsa's lead to 65-56 with 1:10 remaining.
Mickeal led Cincinnati with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Fletcher started for the injured Martin and finished with 13 points, but had just three rebounds.
The Bearcats' starting freshmen backcourt of DerMarr Johnson and Kenny Satterfield combined to shoot 4-of-19 from the field.
"We didn't shoot the ball well enough," Mickeal said. "The effort was there, but we missed too many shots." Cincinnati was eliminated in the second round of the NCAA Tournament by Temple, West Virginia and Iowa State in the previous three seasons.
Tulsa appeared to be on the verge of blowing Cincinnati out of the building, racing to a 19-7 lead in the first nine minutes.
After a 3-pointer by Cincinnati's Steve Logan, Tulsa went on a 9-2 run to increase its advantage to 28-12. Coley started the burst with a dunk and Shelton capped it with a 3-pointer with 7:20 left in the half.
But when it appeared Cincinnati was reeling, the Bearcats got off the ropes and put together a 12-1 run of their own to pull within 29-24 with 1:23 left in the half. Logan sparked it with a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws.
"A lot of people probably counted us out at that point, but our guys battled and got back into it," Huggins said.
A hook shot by Shelton gave Tulsa a 31-24 halftime lead.
Cincinnati scored eight of the first nine points of the second half to tie the game at 32-32.
The Bearcats took their first lead of the second half, 39-38 on a dunk by Jermaine Tate with 12:58 left. Fletcher followed with a layup and Logan added a pair of free throws with 11:16 left to give Cincinnati a 43-38 lead.