Georgetown and South Florida each feature All-Big East first-team players in Greg Monroe and Dominique Jones, respectively. It’s second-team member Austin Freeman, however, who has drawn the headlines with his health in question for the No. 22 Hoyas.
Freeman will try to put aside his past poor performances in the Big East tournament Wednesday when Georgetown looks to gain revenge for a regular-season loss to the Bulls.
The Hoyas (20-9) got a spectacular junior season from Freeman, who averaged a team-high 17.3 points on a career-best 54.2 percent shooting. His play, though, became a secondary matter when Freeman was diagnosed with diabetes in the wake of a 78-64 home loss to Notre Dame on Feb. 27.
After missing a game, Freeman made a triumphant return to the lineup with 24 points in a 74-47 rout of Cincinnati on Saturday.
“I’m fine, I’m fine,” Freeman said. “It was just good to be out there again to be playing with my teammates and just doing what I do. It was just a lot of fun to be out there. … It was just the same.”
Freeman has had a minimal impact in four conference tournament games, averaging 7.8 points. He scored eight and Monroe fouled out with 13 in a 64-59 loss to St. John’s last year as the Hoyas were eliminated in their first game.
Monroe, the Big East rookie of the year last season, was second on the Hoyas in scoring (16.0) and fourth in the conference in rebounds (9.6).
“Speaking for myself and probably most of my teammates, I am very excited,” Monroe said. “Definitely for the Big East. I am not looking past the Big East right now. I’ve been there and I know it was only one game, this time I am trying to make a bigger splash than we did last year.”
Georgetown looked to be in line for a high seed in the NCAA tournament before losing five of its last nine, starting with a 72-64 home loss to South Florida (20-11) on Feb. 3. Jones scored 22 of his 29 points in the second half as the Bulls overcame a nine-point deficit at the break.
“We were very fortunate, we played well at Georgetown, especially in the second half,” coach Stan Heath said. “Dominique had a phenomenal game and I am sure they will make some adjustments against him.”
Jones led the conference in scoring in Big East games (23.2) and helped the Bulls record nine league wins after never having more than four since becoming a member in 2005. He scored 20 as South Florida earned its first Big East tournament victory Tuesday, 58-49 over DePaul.
The Hoyas received a bye into this round and are secure in knowing they should receive an NCAA at-large berth, but South Florida is not. The Bulls, winners of four straight, need a strong showing this week to gain their first NCAA bid since 1992.
The winner will advance to Thursday’s quarterfinals to face third-ranked Syracuse, the top seed.
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