UC Crushed By Georgetown - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

UC Crushed By Georgetown

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

Free-man."

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

ovation.

"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

player."

 

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

 

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