Hoyas romp Bearcats, advance to Big East semifinals
New York, NY – Otto Porter scored 18 points and grabbed six rebounds, leading fifth-ranked Georgetown to a 62-43 victory over Cincinnati in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden.
Markel Starks added 14 points and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera chipped in 13 for the Hoyas (25-5), who shared the regular-season Big East title with Louisville and Marquette but earned the tournament's top seed.
Porter, the Big East's Player of the Year, made only 3-of-9 shots from the field, but canned each of his 11 free throws to lead Georgetown into the semifinals. The Hoyas, who improved to 15-1 as the Big East's top seed, will next face Syracuse in Friday's semifinal.
"A lot of teams are starting to key in on (Porter) more, and I think more of the strategy for them is to try to stop him and kind of worry less about the other guys on our team," said Smith-Rivera. "Guys like Nate (Lubick), Markel, myself, we're starting to get going."
Cincinnati (22-11) reached the conference tournament final last year for the first time since joining the Big East, falling to Louisville, and will now have to await its NCAA Tournament fate. The Bearcats stumbled down the stretch with a 3-6 mark in their final nine regular-season games before beating Providence in the second round on Wednesday.
Cashmere Wright scored 14 points and JaQuon Parker added 12 for Cincinnati on Thursday, as the Bearcats endured a couple of ugly scoring droughts against the tough Georgetown defense. Sean Kilpatrick, the team's leading scorer at 17.3 points per game, made just 2-of-12 shots and finished with four points.
"Obviously, we struggled to score the basketball," said Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin. "We just really struggled on offense. Obviously (Kilpatrick) didn't have a great game for him."
Cincinnati battled back from a 16-point first-half deficit and had a 33-31 lead early in the second half on a basket by Wright. Georgetown followed with an 11-2 run and held the advantage the rest of the way.
Smith-Rivera broke a 33-33 tie with a three and followed with another bucket on the next Hoyas trip. A layup by Cincinnati's Chiekh Mbodj briefly interrupted the surge, but baskets by Porter and Starks then gave Georgetown a 42-35 edge with 12 1/2 minutes remaining.
"I want to say the first three, four possessions of the second half, we looked extremely flat," said Georgetown coach John Thompson III. "But then we turned it up at the defense. We started getting stops, which then helped our offense."
The Bearcats got only as close as five from there and the Hoyas were able to expand their lead as Cincinnati converted only two baskets in the next nine minutes. Two free throws from Porter made it 53-39 with 3 1/2 minutes to play.
Porter added six more from the stripe down the stretch to help seal it.
Cincinnati started the contest ice cold, making just 1-of-9 from the floor. After Parker's three gave the Bearcats a 4-3 lead, the Hoyas responded with 21 of the next 25 points.
Jabil Trawick scored nine during the surge and back-to-back threes by Porter and Smith-Rivera gave Georgetown a 24-8 cushion with 5 1/2 minutes left in the half.
The Bearcats, though, clawed back and trailed just 29-24 at the break, then opened the second half with a 9-2 run to grab the lead.
Georgetown earned a 62-55 victory in the lone regular-season meeting with Cincinnati and leads the all-time series, 8-5 ... The Hoyas are trying for their first Big East tourney title since 2007 and their eighth overall crown, which would snap a tie with Connecticut. The Huskies are ineligible for this year's tournament ... Georgetown's only loss as the No. 1 seed came in the 2010 final against West Virginia ... Trawick finished with nine points.