- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 28, 2007

Add braised Bearcat to Big Roy’s list of favorite entrees.

Cincinnati brought an undersized team to lunch at Verizon Center. And Georgetown center Roy Hibbert brought his appetite.

The Hoyas’ 7-foot-2, 283-pound center enjoyed a career-high 26-point game against the diminutive Bearcats yesterday, lifting Georgetown to an 82-67 victory that was never in doubt.

With their fourth consecutive win, the Hoyas (15-5, 5-2 Big East) moved into a tie for second in the conference as they prepare for a four-game road trip beginning Thursday at St. John’s.

Georgetown came into the game knowing it enjoyed a significant size advantage against the Bearcats (10-10, 1-5), a team with no contributor taller than 6-8, perimeter-happy center Marcus Sikes. Given the Hoyas’ starting front line of Hibbert, 6-9 power forward Jeff Green and 6-8 swingman DaJuan Summers, logic dictated a frontcourt-driven rout.

But logic already had stuttered twice this season in similar matchups, as Old Dominion and Oregon managed to beat the Hoyas behind dispassionate performances from Hibbert and Green.

Yesterday was a different issue with Georgetown’s dynamic duo, who treated the vertically challenged visitors in a manner befitting a pair of potential future NBA first-rounders.

Hibbert devastated Cincinnati on the low block, finishing 11-for-13 from the field with 11 rebounds, two blocks and no turnovers in 29 minutes. And Green did most of his damage from the elbow, dropping 17 points and four assists on the hapless Bearcats.

“It was their size,” first-year Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said of the key to the game. “There’s such a size disparity. Not just at the 5 spot, but the 3, 4 and 5. They got 4 or 5 inches in each position.”

Said Hibbert after bettering his previous career scoring mark by a point: “Obviously, their big guys were undersized, so I tried to establish myself down inside from the start. I look to do that every game, and today it was working.”

That’s an understatement.

Georgetown’s offense was functioning so efficiently against the Bearcats’ defense that the Hoyas marched out to a 38-21 lead with 3:56 left in the first half and then decided to stop defending the 3-point arc.

The result was a comical 10-minute, Mutt-and-Jeff scoring exchange, as Georgetown scored at will inside on one end of the floor only to give up a 3-pointer to the Bearcats on the other end. The Bearcats, who cut the score to 40-35 by halftime and pulled within 53-48 near the midpoint of the first half, maintained contact with the Hoyas by draining 11 of their first 13 3-point attempts.

In Georgetown’s defense, not all of Cincinnati’s 3-pointers were because of late closes and shoddy defense. Sikes (19 points), who drilled all five of his 3-pointers before fouling out trying to guard Hibbert with 13:19 left, banked in one of his 3s and made two others falling away with a hand in his face. Marvin Gentry (15 points), a 6-3 guard, made another over Hibbert after a rotation.

Most mystifyingly, such an unconscious shooting display came from a Cincinnati team that entered the game ranked 15th in the Big East and 287th in the nation in 3-point shooting, connecting on an abysmal 29.5 percent of its attempts from behind the arc.

But none of the 13,106 fans in the building thought the Bearcats’ glorified H-O-R-S-E routine could last all game. With Georgetown’s offense functioning near optimum efficiency (17 assists, season-low five turnovers), the Hoyas seemed more amazed and amused than threatened by the Bearcats.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Georgetown junior forward Patrick Ewing Jr. said. “They started out hot from deep, were like seven-of-nine at the half and never let up. … All you can do is keep working on defense and know they can’t all go in.”

That’s precisely what happened for Cincinnati, which made exactly two 2-point field goals in the second half. The Bearcats crew converted only three of its last 11 3s, and the Hoyas turned the final 12 minutes into a casual walkaway, riding Hibbert and Green to a 15th double-digit victory on the season.

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