Markel Starks, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera lead Hoyas into semis
NEW YORK -- His coach and Georgetown teammates believe Otto Porter Jr. deserves every bit of acclaim he has received over the course of the season.
After all, they stand to benefit, even if they don't get their fair share of the credit.
"But we are on the scouting report," said junior guard Markel Starks, who along with the rest of the backcourt propelled the fifth-ranked Hoyas to a 62-43 Big East quarterfinal victory over Cincinnati at Madison Square Garden. "Knowing that he's going to have that attention, we have to step up."
|No. 5 Georgetown|
|vs. No. 19 Syracuse|
|When »||Friday, 7 p.m.|
|Where »||Madison Square||Garden, New York|
Porter, the Big East player of the year, finished with a game-high 18 points. But more than half came at the line, where he was 11-for-11, and most of those were down the stretch after the Hoyas (25-5) had successfully beaten back a Bearcats rally over the last five minutes of the first half and first four of the second.
Meanwhile, Starks (14 points), D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (13 points) and Jabril Trawick (nine points, three steals) each had a pair of 3-pointers. All three also played crucial roles in getting Georgetown out in front early and again in the second half.
"A lot of teams are starting to key in on him more," Smith-Rivera said. "I think more of the strategy for them is to try to stop him and kind of worry less about the other guys on our team. Guys like Nate [Lubick], Markel, myself, we're starting to get going."
Trawick, whose rugged defense rattled the Bearcats (22-11) in the second half, got things started early with a pair of 3s in the first half and finished a nifty pass from Lubick (six points) for a 13-5 lead.
"I work on my shot, I'm confident and if I'm open, I'm supposed to make shots," Trawick said. "I was able to get some early ones to go down and set the tone for the game."
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Porter and Starks extended the Hoyas' lead to 24-8. But it also inspired Cincinnati to go for broke from the perimeter. They hit four 3-pointers in a span of 3:35 late in the first half -- three from Cashmere Wright (14 points) -- to reset the contest. Wright tied the game at 31-31 less than two minutes into the second half with his fourth of the afternoon.
"Whenever you have a big lead and the other team gets back in it, sometimes you kind of get the 'Woe is me,'?" Hoyas coach John Thompson III said. "I think our guys quickly snapped out of it. We went through a phase there where we stopped defending. I didn't recognize my team on defense."
It was much more familiar after that. The Hoyas didn't allow Wright to take another 3-pointer the remainder of the game and forced a turnover on Cincinnati's first possession immediately after a timeout with 15:08 left. Trawick grabbed a steal, and Smith-Rivera knocked down a rhythm jumper to put the Hoyas back in front. Moments later, Starks powered through the lane to complete a 9-2 run. While the Bearcats hit only two field goals over the game's final 11:33, Porter cemented the result with eight free throws in a row in the final three and a half minutes.