CINCINNATI — All of the 12-point lead was gone, wiped away in a few wild minutes. The Hoyas’ top scorer was on the bench in foul trouble. No. 15 Georgetown’s long winning streak was very much at risk on the road.
The two players that have steadied them through the last few weeks had a few good moments left.
Otto Porter Jr. scored 16 points while playing in foul trouble, and Markel Starks hit the biggest shots down the stretch, rallying the Hoyas to their seventh straight win on Friday night, 62-55 over Cincinnati.
Starks hit a go-ahead 3-pointer and made five free throws in final minute, helping the Hoyas (19-4, 9-3) stay atop the Big East. They were tied with Syracuse and Marquette heading into the weekend games.
Cincinnati (19-7, 7-6) has lost three of its last four games with poor shooting. The Bearcats shot only 31.5 percent from the field and went 4 of 24 behind the arc. JaQuon Parker led with 15 points.
After Parker’s driving basket put Cincinnati ahead 51-50 with 6:53 to go, the Bearcats managed only one field goal and two free throws the rest of the way against one of the nation’s stingiest defenses.
Point guard Cashmere Wright established a Cincinnati record for career steals, but went only 5 of 14 from the field while scoring 12 points, ending the Bearcats’ recent success in the series. The Hoyas had lost their last four games in the series and hadn’t won in Cincinnati since the 2006-07 season.
“We panicked in the first half,” coach Mick Cronin said. “We let our offensive struggles affect our defense. You can’t do that in basketball. I was really disappointed in that.
“We’d never panicked against Georgetown. That’s why we’ve been able to be successful. We went five years not giving up a backdoor layup to Georgetown. Five years! We gave up four or five of them tonight.”
Now, the Hoyas have the longest active win streak in the Big East, winning with a patient but low-scoring offense — only 64.3 points per game — and a defense that allows only 55.7 points per game, seventh nationally.
After pulling ahead for the last time with 6:53 left, the Bearcats managed only one more field goal the rest of the way.
“We haven’t won here in some years,” Starks said. “It is good to come out and finally get a win here. It’s a tough place to play.”