Georgetown appears to be vastly improved from last season's 23-win team that was upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament. That's probably bad news for a Cincinnati team that was blown out in last year's trip to the nation's capital.
The 11th-ranked Hoyas will be trying to stretch their home win streak to five games Wednesday night while the Bearcats are in search of a victory to boost their NCAA tournament chances.Georgetown (21-6, 10-5) matched its total of Big East victories from last season after winning 61-55 at South Florida on Saturday. The conference's best-shooting team finished at 51.2 percent, as Chris Wright scored a season-high 26 points."I just think in games like this, we're more up for games like this because we understand going through that process last year, and losing those games," Wright said. "We have to take the approach of every game is a top-10 team, top-five team, whatever you want to approach it."Wright picked up the slack as leading scorer Austin Freeman missed 8 of 10 shots and scored a season-low four points. Freeman, though, found a way to contribute despite his poor shooting with a team-high eight rebounds."It's good to have players that know how and when to help each other, to pick each other up and to cover for each other," coach John Thompson III said. "There's going to be different people's turn on different nights, and tonight it was Chris."Freeman is averaging 11.0 points on 32.5 percent shooting in his last three games, perhaps feeling the effects of an ankle sprain. Wright is averaging 21.7 points and hitting 50.0 percent in that span.Cincinnati (21-6, 8-6) has lost 20 straight on the road against AP Top 25 teams since an 85-73 victory at then-No. 21 Marquette on Jan. 14, 2004. One of those losses was a 74-47 defeat at Georgetown last March 6.Freeman had 24 points and Wright 16 in that one. The Hoyas outscored the Bearcats 45-21 in the second half to avoid a third straight loss in the series.Cincinnati also hurt itself by making 7 of 17 free throws. That remains a problem this season, with the Bearcats shooting 65.8 percent from the line for one of the conference's worst marks.The Bearcats have won three of four, scoring the first 10 points of overtime in Saturday's 93-81 victory at Providence. Senior Rashad Bishop scored a career-high 23 points and Yancy Gates added 21 and eight rebounds.Cincinnati appears poised to reach the NCAAs for the first time in coach Mick Cronin's five seasons. The Bearcats, although just 1-4 against ranked teams this season, are also trying to win nine conference games under Cronin for the first time.Georgetown will visit Cincinnati in the regular-season finale March 5 after hosting No. 17 Syracuse on Saturday."We just want to play every game to our maximum capacity and just go out there and get after it," Wright said.