CINCINNATI (AP)—For a team on a double-digit winning streak, 12th-ranked Georgetown doesn’t sound so happy.
Jeff Green scored 21 points and had a tone-setting block Wednesday night, helping the Hoyas extend their winning streak to 10 games with a 75-65 victory over Cincinnati that didn’t meet their standards.
The Hoyas (21-5, 11-2 Big East) took control with a 13-point run late in the first half, and the league’s toughest defense held off its worst team. Cincinnati (10-17, 1-12) has dropped nine in a row, its longest losing streak in 23 years.
The latest win in the streak was perhaps the Hoyas’ least satisfying. They were outrebounded 31-27 by a much smaller team and kept it close with 16 turnovers.
“I don’t think we’re there yet,” Green said. “We made a lot of mistakes. Cincinnati got a lot of rebounds and a lot of points in transition. We still need to grow up. We’ve got to trim those things down.”
The best thing Cincinnati did was take 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert out of the game. Hibbert and Green have sparked Georgetown’s best winning streak since it opened the 2003-04 season 10-0.
This time, they had a lot of help from their surrounding cast. Jonathan Wallace added 17 points, and freshman Jeremiah Rivers had consecutive 3s during the 13-point run that put Georgetown ahead to stay.
Green and Hibbert put an exclamation on the win in the closing minutes. Green emphatically blocked Deonta Vaughn’s attempt at a layup, and Hibbert finished the ensuing fastbreak with a tip-in.
Vaughn led Cincinnati with 19 points.
Hibbert had the best game of his career against the Bearcats last month, scoring a career-high 26 points and matching his career high with 11 rebounds in an 82-67 win. The Bearcats’ defense geared up to stop Hibbert, who scored only three points in the first half and fouled out with seven points and nine rebounds.
“Our guys did a great job of limiting his touches,” coach Mick Cronin said. “He had three baskets, and one of them was a 17-footer.”
The Hoyas showed they know what to do when a team pays so much attention to the big man.
“I expect every team to play him that way,” Green said. “They did their best to stop him, and we had to get the open shots and help out.”
Cincinnati had the extreme challenge of facing the Big East’s top offense and its best defense in back-to-back games. The Bearcats lost to high-scoring Notre Dame 76-64 on Sunday, and couldn’t sustain much against a Hoyas defense that allows only 56.1 points per game.
“I thought we gave them all they wanted tonight,” Cronin said. “I was proud of my team’s effort.”
The Bearcats made their first five 3-point shots for a 17-7 lead, their first double-digit advantage in three games. During that time, Hibbert got only one shot off against a defense that double- and triple-teamed him inside.
That’s when Georgetown coach John Thompson III knew it wasn’t going to be an easy night.
“We didn’t play well because of them,” he said. “They got off to that big lead. It felt like they made the first 10 3s they took. We didn’t do a good job guarding the 3-point line.”
Hibbert’s bank shot for his first basket cut the lead to 26-24, and the Hoyas finally pulled ahead with a 13-point run led by a freshman reserve. Rivers hit consecutive 3s, the second after he looked to pass but found himself unguarded and decided to let it fly.
With those two shots, Rivers matched his career high of six points.
“That was huge,” Thompson said. “They decided not to guard him. His man was doubling Roy, and he got two open looks. The last 2 or 3 minutes of the first half was the key.”
Wallace also hit a 3-pointer and stole an inbound pass for a layup during the run, which helped Georgetown forge a 36-31 halftime lead. Cincinnati hasn’t led at halftime in any Big East game this season—its last such advantage was against Miami of Ohio on Dec. 27.
Hibbert’s 17-foot jumper pushed the lead to 42-32 early in the second half. Cincinnati then played a little defense of its own, putting on a full-court press that forced turnovers and set up a seven-point spurt.
Jessie Sapp hit a pair of driving shots during an eight-point run that built the lead to 54-43 midway through the half. Cincinnati never got closer than eight points the rest of the way.