With 8:27 left in the first half, Mick Cronin, Cincinnatti’s head coach, received a technical foul for a screaming fit after one of his players got called for pushing a Hoya. Immediately, Otto Porter Jr., Big East Player of the Year, sunk both free throws without a second thought. This put the Georgetown Hoyas up 17-7 over their Cincinnati Bearcat counterparts, who had bested them in the Big East Tournament in double-overtime last year. The moment summed up the game: Cincinnati failed to display composure or even a working game-plan, while Georgetown maintained their fundamentals for all of the forty minutes, even during the sparse stretches in which the Bearcats appeared threatening.
The opening of the game set the stage for things to come. Georgetown held Cincinati to a measely 5 points during the first 11:20, a period in which the Bearcats’ offense was uglier than their plaid shorts. Georgetown played a very tight zone defense centered around the paint, which left Cincinnati passing uselessly around the perimeter until one of their players would throw up a deep three-pointer to appease the ever-diminishing shot-clock. Even with 8:40 gone in the game, the Bearcats’ game plan still allowed for an airball three-pointer, followed on the next possession by a puzzling offensive foul in the paint by big man Cheikh Mdobi while the ball was still on the perimeter.The Hoyas were sparked early on by Jabril Trawick, a bench player averaging 5.6 points a game on the season, as he hit two three-pointers and had 9 of the team’s 18 points. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera jumped in on the action with a flashy turn-around jumper to give Georgetown their biggest lead so far, 26-11, with four minutes remaining in the first half. However, the half ended with a dominant Hoya team only leading 29-24. In the final three-and-a-half minutes, Cincinnati’s sporadic offense began to succeed in it’s objective all game: hit three-pointers. Guard Cashmere Wright hit three long-range jumpers to bring it to 29-22 with fifty seconds left.
As is often the case with hot streaks, the success was short-lived. Cincinnati chose to live and die by the three, having been outscored 16-4 in the by paint with 17:24 left, and the mid-way point of the second-half left them gasping for air. Georgetown actually relinquished the lead with 16 minutes left, falling behind 33-31, but stopped any and all bleeding there, going on an 11-2 run. The momentum clearly shifted, but as an audience member it was barely noticeable as the Hoyas simply stuck to their same precise offense and stifling defense without a single hint at what the score was.
Business as usual is a good way to be playing in March. Porter, the best player on the court, managed to avoid much announcer recognize all game long, while he still quietly put up an 18 point, 6 assist game. The free throws, including those at the end that stretched the lead all the way to 19, were dropped at a 13-18 clip, with each player stepping confidently up to the line to kill any chances of a final comeback one point at a time. Georgetown will now be playing rival Syracuse Friday night at 7, a rematch of the recent 61-39 drubbing that gave Georgetown a share in the Big East Regular Season Title. Fans are certainly hoping that there are no breaking headlines about the Hoyas tomorrow night; one would probably signify a loss, since at this point Georgetown is reminding us that any success they have is so expected it becomes unremarkable.