UC beats Georgetown; earns 1st round bye

CINCINNATI (AP) - No. 17 Georgetown isn't getting anywhere with its one-man offense. Yancy Gates scored 10 of his 13 points from the free-throw line, where Cincinnati was nearly flawless, and the Bearcats completed a sweep of the injury-sapped Hoyas with a 69-47 victory on Saturday that left Georgetown with big worries at tournament time.

The fading Hoyas (21-9, 10-8 Big East) take a three-game losing streak into the conference tournament. Senior point guard Chris Wright has missed the last two with a broken left (non-shooting) hand that required surgery.

Georgetown hopes to get him back before the NCAA tournament. On Saturday, he sat on the bench in a suit and watched helplessly as an offense that now revolves around guard Austin Freeman struggled to find open shots.

"Is it hard to deal with?" coach John Thompson III said. "I can't sit here and say everything is peachy. But that's what athletics are about. There are injuries. You have to play the hand you're dealt."

The Bearcats (24-7, 11-7) took full advantage of Wright's absence and completed a breakthrough regular season, putting themselves in position for their first NCAA tournament appearance since Bob Huggins was coach. They won five of their last six, including a pair over the Hoyas.

"It shows progression from last year to this year," Gates said. "This is the perfect time to find what you do best to help you win. For us, it's defense."

And free throws. Cincinnati made 20 of them in a row while pulling away, finishing 24 of 30 from the line.  Cincinnati knew Georgetown would have to rely on Freeman, who missed eight of his first 10 shots. He finished 7 of 23 for the field for 21 points - not nearly enough to keep up.

"We just tried to make it as hard as possible for them," said Rashad Bishop, who covered Freeman most of the time. "He was really the only person who could create shots for himself. If we eliminate him, it was going to be tough to beat us."

Freeman played 37 minutes and seemed to wear down. Georgetown leads the conference with a 48.5 percent field-goal percentage, but made only 32 percent against Cincinnati's full-court pressure.

"Knowing that Chris is out of the lineup, I have to be aggressive on both ends of the floor," Freeman said. "I tried to get some baskets, get fouls. I just tried to be aggressive and help as much as possible."

Sean Kilpatrick hit a pair of 3s during a 16-3 run that blew the game open midway through the second half. Kilpatrick finished with 13 points. Dion Dixon had 14.

The Bearcats got a breakthrough win at Georgetown on Feb. 23, holding the Hoyas to four field goals in the second half of a 58-46 victory that snapped a streak of 20 straight road losses against ranked teams. Wright broke his hand during that game.

Cincinnati's strong finish put it in line for its first NCAA appearance since 2005, Huggins' last season as coach. The Bearcats hadn't even managed a winning conference record in their first five seasons as part of the Big East.

The Hoyas came out pushing the pace and got fast-break baskets during a 12-4 run. Cincinnati used its defensive pressure to get back into it. There were four lead changes and three ties in the first half, which ended with Cincinnati getting a technical foul and a bank shot to go in its favor.

After Freeman made a driving bank shot with 44 seconds to go, he got a technical for something he said. The Bearcats made both free throws, and Gates took an inbound pass and banked in a long 3 from the top of the key as the buzzer sounded for a 30-24 halftime lead.

Hoyas reserve center Henry Sims limped off the court with 5:50 left in the first half. A trainer checked his left knee, which already was covered in a brace. Two minutes later, forward Julian Vaughn picked up his third foul, leaving the Hoyas' front line temporarily short-handed. Sims returned for the second half and finished with three points and four rebounds in 16 minutes.

Neither team could put together much of a run because of poor shooting through the first 30 minutes. Both were shooting 33 percent from the field with 10:04 left and Cincinnati up 41-36.

A pair of free throws by Gates and Kilpatrick's 3 started the clinching run.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)