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 NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne