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Strong defense leads Georgetown past Cincinnati

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- Georgetown showed why it's considered one of the top defensive teams in the country, shutting down Cincinnati in a 62-43 victory in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

The Hoyas, who advanced to the semifinals for the 21st time in 34 years, were led by the Big East Player of the Year, Otto Porter Jr., who scored 18 points, including 11-of-11 from the line. Markel Starks contributed 14 points and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera added 12 points.

No. 5 Georgetown (25-5), the tournament's top seed, ranks second in the Big East in scoring defense and is 10th in the nation, allowing just 56 points a game.

It marked the 10th time this season the Hoyas have allowed fewer than 50 points and was the second straight defensive gem turned in by coach John Thompson III's team. Georgetown shut down Syracuse 61-39 in the final regular season game.

Cincinnati (22-11), seeded ninth, shot just 36.8 percent from the field against multiple Georgetown defenses that the Bearcats found difficult to negotiate around. Cashmere Wright led the Bearcats with 14 points, while their leading scorer during the regular season, Sean Kilpatrick, made just two of his 12 shots, for four points.

"With them (Cincinnati), I don't think you can necessarily say let's focus on one person," Thompson said. "Because if you focus on (Sean) Kilpatrick, (JaQuon) Parker can hurt you. If you focus on Parker, Cashmere (Wright) can hurt you.

"So Jabril (Trawick) was on him (Kilpatrick) most of the night and I thought Jabril did a pretty good job of not getting stuck on screens and chasing him."

The Bearcats took their first lead of the second half when Wright dropped in a floater for a 33-31 lead with 16:18 to play, but Georgetown pulled ahead for good thanks to a 22-6 spurt that made it 53-39 with 3:30 to go.

"We struggled to score," Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. "We only had 38 field goal attempts and that's not enough. Georgetown is a low-possession game. They're going to work you deep in the clock. The way they play, running the Princeton offense and being so deliberate, every possession gets magnified."

The Bearcats overcame an abysmal start to the game by closing the first half strong. At one point in the half, Cincinnati went 10:14 without making a basket. The Hoyas took advantage of the drought by going on a 7-0 run to move ahead 15-5.

The Bearcats used the long ball to get back into the game. Wright drained three 3-pointers and JaQuon Parker connected for one when the Bearcats used a 16-3 burst to close the half, trailing 29-24.

Trawick led the Hoyas with nine points in the half and Porter Jr. contributed eight points. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera contributed 13 points off the bench.

Traditionally a stellar defensive unit since Thompson took over the program in 2004, the coach stopped short of anointing this group his finest stoppers.

"I think I probably want to wait until the season is over before I make that statement," he said. "But it's up there. In 2007 we had Roy (Hibbert) sitting in the back. We don't have Roy sitting in the back right now. Hopefully, we'll be playing for a few more weeks here so I won't have to make that assessment for a while."

NOTES: Cincinnati sported the new Adidas uniforms with orange numbering and lettering and camouflage shorts. ... Kilpatrick's 554 points this season for Cincinnati tie Deonte Vaughn (2008) for the most points by a Bearcat during the Mick Cronin era. ... Thompson has led Georgetown to a least 20 wins in seven of his nine years at the helm. He moved into fourth place on the all-time wins chart for the Big East Tournament with 13, tying him with P.J. Carlesimo and Rollie Massimino. ... Wright became Cincinnati's all-time leader in games played at 138.
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