Georgetown's loss to Cincinnati earlier this season ultimately cost it a coveted double-bye in the Big East tournament.
The 13th-ranked Hoyas hope they won't be kept from further goals by the surging Bearcats.Fourth-seeded Cincinnati takes on fifth-seeded Georgetown in the quarterfinals on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.The Hoyas (23-7) were the only ranked team in the Big East not to receive a double-bye in the tournament. The Bearcats won the tiebreaker over Georgetown after finishing with the same conference record thanks to a 68-64 win over the Hoyas on Jan. 9.Senior center Henry Sims led a strong performance from Georgetown's frontline in a 64-52 victory over Pittsburgh on Wednesday in the second round of the Big East tournament. Sims had 20 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, while freshman Otto Porter added a season-high 20 points on 7 of 11 from the field in his fourth straight start.Georgetown had a 36-25 rebounding edge and went on a 13-5 run midway through the second half to push the lead to 14 with less than 6 1/2 minutes remaining.The Hoyas, winners of five of seven, are looking to make a deeper run after they lost to eventual champion Connecticut in the second round of last year's Big East tournament."When it came to the tournament last year we had an early exit, and me and (fellow senior) Jason (Clark) talked and we didn't want that to happen this year, and I did my best to make sure that didn't happen today," Sims said.Sims has been productive down the stretch for Georgetown, averaging 12.3 points and 8.5 rebounds the last four games.The Hoyas' frontcourt will need to be very good again going up against Yancy Gates on Thursday.The 6-foot-9 Gates had eight points and seven rebounds in the win against the Hoyas, but he's become a bigger presence on the glass since, recording at least nine boards in 10 of his last 13 games.Cincinnati (22-9) has won two straight and five of six."The thing I'm most proud of about him, right now, is for four years, I've tried to turn him into a rebounder, and he's embracing being a rebounder," coach Mick Cronin said. "If he continues to do that, it takes our team to another level. His rebounding has been excellent lately."The senior, who was handed a six-game suspension for his role in a brawl against Xavier on Dec. 10 and returned to a team that became more guard-oriented in his absence, is averaging 11.8 points and a career-high 9.4 rebounds.While the Hoyas will be wary of Gates, they were hurt by Cincinnati's backcourt in the last meeting as Sean Kilpatrick scored 27 points and Dion Dixon 22 for the Bearcats.Georgetown failed to protect a six-point lead in the final six minutes and was held to one field goal down the stretch.Cincinnati's double-bye is its best showing since the 2006 tournament. The Bearcats reached the quarterfinals last season before losing to Notre Dame."I think our players would probably say you think you have a chance to win it when you only have to play three games," Cronin said. "It's tough when you know the other teams only have to play three, and you have to play four or five -- not to say someone's not going to win it playing four or five."Only playing three gives them a realistic chance of winning the thing, instead of just trying to get to Friday night."The winner will face either No. 2 Syracuse or Connecticut on Friday in the semifinals.