Big East Player of the Year Otto Porter Jr. and the top-seed Georgetown Hoyas will hit the floor at Madison Square Garden on Thursday afternoon in the quarterfinal round of the Big East Tournament against ninth-seed Cincinnati.
In its second-round matchup with eighth-seed Providence on Wednesday, Cincinnati came out of the gates hot and then coasted the rest of the way for a 61-44 victory. It was the third win in the last four games for the Bearcats who weren't exactly firing on all cylinders down the stretch with losses in six of their last nine games to end the regular season.
Porter and the rest of the Hoyas really turned it on down the stretch to take their 10th Big East regular-season crown. After stumbling to a 2-3 mark in the first five league games the Hoyas then ripped off 12 wins in their final 13 games of the regular season to skyrocket up not only the conference standings but also the national rankings.
These teams met just once in the regular season with the advantage going to the Hoyas, 62-55, in Fifth Third Arena. The win was the first for the Hoyas against the Bearcats in the last four meetings. Georgetown leads the all-time series, 7-5.
The winner of this game will take on either Syracuse of Pittsburgh in the semifinals.
UC roared out of the locker room in the first half against Providence with a 15-4 run. The Bearcats would never lead by fewer than 10 points the rest of the way, stretching their advantage to as many as 18 by holding the Friars to just 28.1 percent shooting.
Playing well on defense hasn't been an issue for the Bearcats. They rank among the top 20 teams nationally in both points allowed (58.7 pg) and field-goal percentage defense (.384). However the Bearcats are not one of the better offensive teams as they rely to heavily on one-on-one plays which has led to a low shooting percentage. In fact the Bearcats are second to last in the Big East in assists (12.3 pg) and field-goal percentage (.403). Sean Kilpatrick (17.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg) came on strong after a quiet first half to score 17 points against Providence, while JaQuon Parker (11.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg) knocked in a pair of shots from beyond the arc and finished with a 15-point, 10-rebound double- double.
The Hoyas had a bye in the first two rounds and have not been in action since the regular-season finale. In that contest the Hoyas routed longtime rival Syracuse, 61-39, to earn a season sweep of the Orange. Markel Starks had 19 points and five assists and Porter scored 10 points, collected eight rebounds and dished out seven assists as the Hoyas held the Orange to just 31.9 percent shooting.
John Thompson Jr. was named Big East Coach of the Year in leading the Hoyas to the regular-season crown. Thompson's squad was a team focused on defense. The Hoyas were among the top 15 teams nationally in points allowed (57.3 pg) and opponent field goal percentage (.377). Porter (16.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg) became just the fourth Big East Player of the Year winner for the Hoyas after tearing it up in league play. The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 18.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game against the Big East. Starks (12.4 ppg) is a strong second option while taking the lead on ball handling responsibilities in the backcourt.