Georgetown outlasts Cincinnati, takes first place in Big East

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Georgetown let a 12-point second half lead get away, but the Hoyas made the free throws down the stretch while Cincinnati couldn’t connect from deep. The fifteenth-ranked Hoyas escaped Cincinnati with a 62-55 final, taking sole possession of first place in the Big East in the process.

The Bearcats trailed 45-36 before going on a 16-5 run to take a one-point lead, with Cashmere Wright and JaQuon Parker did all the damage in the second half run. Parker’s jumper with 6:54 to go gave Cincy’s first since it was 7-6 with 12:46 to remaining in the first half.

While Otto Porter, Jr. was carrying four fouls, Markel Starks lifted the Hoya offense, scoring four consecutive points that gave Georgetown the lead back and for good. After making 1-of-2 free throws, the junior point guard heaved up a contested three and drilled it to give the Hoyas a 54-51 advantage.

Cincinnati got it to one, 54-53, with 3:54 to go, but the Bearcats hurt themselves with missed threes and turnovers late in the game. Cincy missed the last four 3-pointers – on a 4-of-24 night from deep — and had three turnovers. The Bearcats were held with a field goal for over six minutes after taking the lead.

In the meantime, Georgetown didn’t hit a field goal either after Starks’ three. The Hoyas went 8-of-10 from the line in the last 3:35 to secure the road win.

Georgetown, the team that scored 37 in a win against Tennessee on Nov. 30 now leads the Big East by half a game. The Hoyas are 9-1 since losing Greg Whittington to academic issues, and have won games in South Bend, and against then-No. 5 Louisville during this seven-game winning streak.

Porter’s play has picked up in conference play. The sophomore has gone for 20 or more four times in the last nine games, as opposed to  just once in the first 13 games. Starks, who made the big shot on Friday, also has picked up the production as of late, averaging 16.3 over the last six games.

With an improved offense, the Hoyas are making a move at the right time with six games remaining until the Big East tournament.

Terrence is also the lead writer at and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Boise State loses guard Harwell to torn ACL

Leon Rice
Associated Press
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Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.

Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.

Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.

Knee injury sidelines Illinois forward Leron Black

Josh Hart, Leron Black
Associated Press
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Illinois will be shorthanded in its front court for the time being, as during the team’s media day Thursday head coach John Groce announced that sophomore forward Leron Black is out due to injury.

Black will undergo surgery Friday to repair a meniscus tear in his knee, and he’s expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. A return after four weeks would have Black back on the court just before the Fighting Illini open their season November 13 against North Florida. Any longer and the Memphis native would wind up missing some game action.

Black averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action per game as a freshman. He’s one of the players expected to contribute in the front court for the Fighting Illini, who lost their best interior defender and second-leading rebounder in Nnanna Egwu at the end of last season (guard Rayvonte Rice, who led the team in rebounding, is also gone).

In addition to Black and junior Maverick Morgan, Illinois adds redshirt freshman Michael Finke and grad student Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte) to their front court rotation.