After two close wins, the men’s basketball team was ready for a blowout victory.

Georgetown looked comfortable in its newfound role as a nationally ranked team, taking an early lead and holding on for a comfortable 76-57 win over Big East newcomer Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon.

The Hoyas (14-4, 5-2) displayed an all-around team game, dishing out 22 assists on 30 field goals, and received help from the Bearcats’ (14-7, 3-4) weak shooting.

“I think just things fell in place today. I thought our offense looked pretty good. Our guys did a good job of reading off each other and seeing what was there,” John Thompson III, Georgetown head coach, said.

On the whole, it was a fitting way to end a week that saw Georgetown soar onto the national scene, downing undefeated Duke and edging past Notre Dame in double overtime in South Bend, Ind. The team also landed in the AP poll at No. 21, its first ranking in almost four years, and yesterday the team jumped up four more spaces to a current rank of No. 17.

For the 12,000 fans at MCI Center and the thousands more following Georgetown this season, this was a refreshingly drama-free game for the Hoyas. Cincinnati held the lead for fewer than four minutes before sophomore forward Jeff Green posted a jump shot to put Georgetown ahead 5-4. While the Bearcats went on a 1-for-8 run, the Hoyas steadily climbed away in the next six minutes to take a double-digit lead, 18-6, with 11:49 left in the half.

Cincinnati continued to miss shots while Georgetown remained smooth on offense, working the Princeton offense well, moving the ball around the court and waiting for the open shot. The patience, along with decent shooting (46.7 percent for the half), gave the Hoyas a commanding 36-20 lead going into the locker room at the end of the first half.

Cincinnati did its best to take itself out of the game with 24.2 percent shooting from the floor and a dismal 1-for-12 record from behind the three-point arc. Senior forward James White, a D.C. native, led his team with a mere five points in 20 minutes.

“We’ve lost a little bit of our edge. I think we’re tentative; it seems as if we’re not as confident a group,” Cincinnati Head Coach Andy Kennedy said.

The Bearcats picked up their intensity in the second half, scoring more and getting more second chances. All of this, however, was to no avail as the Hoyas kept up their effort. Georgetown’s stellar shooting (57.1 percent), which has buoyed it through its four-game win streak, kept the team steadily ahead. Even as White and fellow senior forward Eric Hicks managed to work their way into the paint for a combined 24 points, Cincinnati could not find a way to get back in the game.

“They played hard right until the end and they competed and they fought,” Thompson said. “We knew James was going to have a good game. He’s made himself into a very good basketball player and that’s just credit to how hard he’s worked. As long as he was out there I was a little nervous. He scores points in bunches.”

By the time the clock had run down, Thompson began cycling the bench onto the court, fielding 14 players in the end. Junior forward Kenny Izzo did not suit up for the game, having sustained an injury during practice earlier in the week. The Hoyas waltzed away with the victory, and the 76-57 decision marks the team’s most lopsided conference win in four years.

“In a league like the Big East, against an opponent like Georgetown, who is playing as well as anyone in the country right now, on the road you certainly can’t expect to back your way into any success,” Kennedy said. “You have to go out and be aggressive and you have to be assertive. Our inabilities on both ends of the floor tonight were exposed by a better team, and we didn’t fight the way that we have up until this

past week.”

Green led the Hoyas on the stat sheet with 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Senior guard Ashanti Cook tied Green with five assists while Bowman and Wallace both reached double-digits in scoring. White had a game-high 22 points white Hicks joined him as the only other Bearcat in double-digits with 13 points.

Green, last year’s co-Big East rookie of the year, has received criticism this season for not putting up the same numbers he did last year. Saturday’s game could be seen as a vindication of sorts, although Thompson has maintained that Green has been playing as well as ever.

“A lot of people who don’t really understand the game equate playing well with scoring points. Jeff Green has played well all year for us,” he said. “Some games he’s scored, others he hasn’t. In the past few games he has scored, but he has played well all year. We have found a way to hit the open man and play and take what’s there. He does a good job of figuring out how to help.”

The team’s win over Duke placed it in the polls, and its win streak has allowed Georgetown to climb this week in the AP poll. The team has not made it that far up the polls in five years, when it reached the No. 15 spot. The Hoyas also made their first appearance this season in the ESPN/USA Today poll at No. 22.

Now that Georgetown is regaining some of its slightly faded shine, it was perhaps only appropriate that halftime featured a reunion of 62 past Hoya players, including members of the 1984 National Championship team.

“I don’t know whether it affected our guys, but I’m sitting there thinking `I sure as heck hope we play well today,'” Thompson said. “It’s important that all our former players showed up today because we are a part of them and they are a part of us. As we continue to go forward and progress, our guys have to have an understanding of all the caring and tears that all of those guys put into this program.”

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