Big East showdown pits Hoyas against Bearcats

The 15th-ranked Georgetown Hoyas hit the road for a rare Friday night clash, as they take on the Cincinnati Bearcats in Big East Conference action at Fifth Third Arena.

The Hoyas have been on fire of late with wins in six straight games, the most recent of which being an important 63-55 decision against No. 18 Marquette on Monday. With the win, Georgetown is tied with the Golden Eagles and sixth- ranked Syracuse atop the tightly contested Big East. The Hoyas boast an 18-4 overall record, making them one of six teams in the conference with at least 18 wins. Georgetown returns home to face DePaul in its next matchup.

A two-game slide knocked Cincinnati from its perch in the Top-25 last week, but the Bearcats made amends on Tuesday with a convincing 68-50 victory over a tough Villanova squad. With the win, the Bearcats are 19-6 overall. However at 7-5 against league foes, the Bearcats are tied for eighth in the standings. A tough two-game road trip awaits UC with tilts against Connecticut and Notre Dame.

These teams had never met before becoming conference foes back in 2006. Since then, Cincinnati has a 6-5 edge, and the Bearcats have won the last four meetings.

Behind 21 points from Otto Porter, the Hoyas were able to overcome a 38.5 percent shooting effort against Marquette to collect a crucial win. The key was ball security as the Hoyas posted a 24-9 edge in points off turnovers, while forcing 19 takeaways.

Georgetown isn't the type of team that will blow past anyone with high-flying offensive showings. The Hoyas are the second-lowest scoring team in the Big East (64.3 ppg). That has been more a symptom of the methodical tempo they play though, as they still shoot an efficient 46 percent from the field. That grinding offensive style meshes well with the Hoyas' defensive scheme, as they allow the ninth-fewest points per game (55.7) in the country, on the nation's 11th-lowest opponent field goal percentage (.378). Interior scoring is where the Hoyas have gotten the bulk of their offensive production, led by Porter (15.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg). There is also talent in the backcourt, led by Markel Starks (12.4 ppg).

Cincinnati also shot less than 40 percent from the field (.396) in its most recent win, but still managed to top Villanova by playing stingy defense and shooting well from long range. The Bearcats forced 19 turnovers and made good on 12-of-25 attempts from 3-point range in the victory.

Like Georgetown, Cincinnati relies more on its play at the defensive end. The Bearcats are letting up just 58.4 points per game on 38 percent shooting this season, and both marks are among the 25 best in the country. Controlling the boards is key for Cincinnati, which leads the Big East in rebounding (41.1 rpg), while ranking eighth nationally. The backcourt trio of Sean Kilpatrick (18.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg), Cashmere Wright (13.4 ppg, 3.4 apg) and JaQuon Parker (10.9 ppg) has been tough for foes to handle. Kilpatrick has been especially strong as the Big East's fourth-best scorer. Cheikh Mbodj (5.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.4 bpg) is the anchor inside and the second-best shot blocker in the Big East.