- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 29, 2006

After back-to-back close games, No. 21 Georgetown delivered a no-doubt rout of Cincinnati yesterday at MCI Center.

With almost clinical offensive precision, the Hoyas dominated the Bearcats 76-57 before 12,016 that included a host of the program’s most prestigious hoops alums.

“Our guys need to understand all the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into this program over the years,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said of the blue and gray greats who were honored at halftime — a cast of 62 Hilltop heroes, including Paul Tagliabue, Craig Shelton, Michael Jackson, Jerome Williams and Victor Page. “I’m sitting there thinking, ‘I sure as heck hope we play well today, because I don’t want to hear it from those guys.’”

Thompson’s squad certainly played well, authoring the program’s most convincing Big East blowout since a 19-point trouncing of Rutgers in the 2002 regular-season finale.

With the team’s confidence continuing to blossom after last week’s upset of top-ranked Duke, the Hoyas (14-4, 5-2 Big East) dissected the Cincinnati defense in efficient fashion, recording 22 assists on 30 field goals and riding a superb performance from versatile sophomore forward Jeff Green, who finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

“I thought we played very well on the offensive end, and that’s a good defensive team,” said Thompson, whose team travels to DePaul on Tuesday in search of the program’s best league start since 1995-96 (7-1). “We had a nice mix of drives, jumpshots, backdoors and post-ups, and that’s just a function of our guys doing a good job of reading the defense and taking what was given.”

Georgetown began the game with buckets from four different starters on its first five possessions to cruise to a 9-4 lead and set the tone for the bludgeoning to come. Cincinnati (14-7, 3-4), recently one of the most feared defensive teams in college basketball, had no solutions against a Georgetown offense that seems to have hit its sprinter’s stride for the second half of the conference schedule.

No matter the method of Georgetown’s attack, the Bearcats seemed a step behind or a few inches short. The Hoyas patiently ventilated Cincinnati’s matchup zone with lobs to center Roy Hibbert (eight points, seven rebounds), slashing scores by Jonathan Wallace (10 points) and Brandon Bowman (12 points), pinpoint backdoor passes from Green and Ashanti Cook (five assists) and the customary array of 3-pointers from Green, Cook and Wallace.

And the Hoyas were nearly as impressive at the defensive end. Georgetown marched to a 36-20 halftime edge while employing a zone that neutralized the dribble-drive prowess of Cincinnati freshman point man Devan Downey, who was held scoreless for the first time in his career.

“I’m speechless I’m so disappointed,” said Downey, who entered the game averaging 13.4 points but finished 0-for-5 and was benched for nearly the entire second half.

Without Downey setting up his teammates, the entire Cincinnati offense revolved around the improvisational abilities of swingman James White (22 points) and the scrappy pivot play of undersized center Eric Hicks (13 points, nine rebounds). As often as not, however, that duo couldn’t find a shot, and the Bearcats had to settle for forced 3-pointers from one of its accuracy-challenged perimeter players. And true to their form as one of the league’s worst shooting teams, the Bearcats finished a miserable 4-for-24 from 3-point range.

“I think they are a tremendous team,” Cincinnati interim coach Andy Kennedy said after watching the Hoyas hand his team their fifth loss in six games. “We were exposed on both ends of the floor today by a better team. You see they had 22 assists on 30 field goals which tells you the Princeton offense was in full effect.”

The Hoyas didn’t let up coming out of intermission, boosting the lead to 57-31 on a layup by Bowman with 11:42 left before Thompson cleared his bench down the stretch.

“It does feel like things are sort of clicking together on offense,” Wallace said. “But we’ve just got to stay humble and keep bringing it every night.”

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