WASHINGTON (AP) - The scoreboard kept track of Austin Freeman's
points. The trainer kept track of his blood sugar levels.
Both were fine, and so was No. 19 Georgetown. Six days after
being taken to the hospital and diagnosed with diabetes, Freeman
scored 24 points Saturday as the Hoyas clinched a first-round bye
in the Big East tournament with a 74-47 win over Cincinnati in both
teams' regular season finale.
"I'm proud of him," teammate Greg Monroe said. "It's so
serious. It's a life-changing thing that you find out, but once he
was back on the court, he was the same. Off the court, he was the
same. He just took it all in stride."
With the doctor who heads the Georgetown Diabetes Center and
trainer Lorry Michel watching his every move, Freeman played 30
minutes and made 8 of 15 shots, including 4 of 7 3-pointers. Monroe
had 19 points and 15 rebounds, and Chris Wright had 16 points as
Georgetown (20-9, 10-8) finished in the top half of the 16-team Big
East, avoiding the dreaded Tuesday game in a conference tournament
that has been expanded to five days.
"I'm fine, I'm fine," the soft-spoken Freeman said. "It was
just good to be out there again to be playing with my teammates and
just doing what I do. It was just a lot of fun to be out there. ...
It was just the same."
Oh, but it wasn't. Georgetown didn't have any seniors to honor
on senior day, so Saturday became a de facto Austin Freeman Day. It
started when he was given a standing ovation when presented with a
game ball by coach John Thompson III in recognition of the junior
guard's 1,000th career point, scored a few games ago.
Then came another standing ovation when Freeman was announced
with the starting lineup. He scored Georgetown's first basket with
a layup, then hit a pair of 3-pointers. Then he drove the paint,
drew heavy contact but no foul as he forced his way to a layup that
prompted Cincinnati to call timeout, the crowd to rise to its feet
and several sections of fans to start chanting "Aus-tin
Among the homemade signs at the Verizon Center: "Awesome
Austin," "We love you, Austin" and "AFREE15," a reference to
his jersey number. Freeman played only four minutes fewer than his
average of 34. When he left the game, he would sometimes sit near
the far end of the bench next to Michel, who would monitor his
blood sugar levels.
Thompson called the week "emotional" and "trying" but
expressed guarded confidence that his leading scorer was back to
his old basketball self.
"As long as we can limit the sways in his levels, we're going
to see a lot more games this year like that," the coach said.
Freeman was thought to have a stomach virus when he missed
Monday's loss to West Virginia and was limited in a loss to Notre
Dame two days earlier. He was diagnosed Monday night, returned to
practice Wednesday and will have the university doctor attending
all of his practices and games for the rest of the season.
The bench-thin Hoyas need Freeman to have any chance at making a
run in the postseason. There is no reliable scorer outside the
starting five, a lack of depth that was starting to show as
Georgetown entered Saturday's game on a 1-4 skid.
"The last two games, one of the key parts of what we do was not
feeling good," Thompson said. "So to go in there today, knowing
he's going to be there, makes a big difference."
Freshman Lance Stephenson scored a career-high 23 points to lead
Cincinnati (16-14, 7-11), one of the eight teams that will have to
play five games in five days to win the Big East tournament. Deonta
Vaughn, averaging nearly 12 points, went 0-for-3 from the field and
finished with two points.
The Bearcats have lost five of six, including three in a row to
top 20 teams. They trailed 29-26 at the half before Freeman and the
Hoyas turned the game into a rout.
"The second half we got totally outplayed," Cincinnati coach
Mick Cronin said. "We struggled to make layups, we struggled to
make free throws, struggled to make open shots. Playing hard,
focused and all that stuff, that's just talk. You've got to get the
ball in the basket. We play in the Big East. We're not going to be
able to just outhustle people. That only goes so far."
Freeman made the score 40-32 early in the second half with a
3-pointer, and pushed the lead to 50-35 with two free throws when
he was fouled after making a steal - leading to another standing
"I'm not happy he came out and killed me today," Cronin said.
"But I'm very happy for him that he's able to play and he's going
to be healthy and have a great career, because he's a great
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)