Sapp, Freeman lead No. 11 Georgetown to win

WASHINGTON (AP) -- For one day at least, Georgetown is back on top of the Big East.

A thorough 73-53 victory over Cincinnati on Saturday moved the 11th-ranked Hoyas (No. 12 AP) a half-game ahead of Louisville (No. 23 ESPN/USA Today, No. 18 AP) in the conference standings. The Cardinals (21-6, 11-3) play at Pittsburgh on Sunday.

The Hoyas (22-4, 12-3), who reached the Final Four last season, were ranked fifth in the preseason Top 25 and were co-favorites with Louisville in a poll of Big East coaches.

Georgetown coach John Thompson III professes to ignore any talk about expectations for his team.

"This is a long season," he said. "I don't really care how we're being judged. ... We just want to win the next game."

Thompson's philosophy has trickled down to his players.

Roy Hibbert, the Hoyas' leading scorer and rebounder, had 12 points and five blocked shots -- one short of his career high -- against Cincinnati.

"I don't even know what we're ranked," Hibbert said.

John Williamson, who along with Deonta Vaughn led Cincinnati with 13 points, opened the second half with a layup to bring the Bearcats within 34-29, but the Hoyas went on a 16-4 run to put the game out of reach.

Hibbert had 10 of his 12 points in the second half. Jessie Sapp, who led Georgetown with 16 points, also had 10 in the second half. Freshman Austin Freeman added 13 points for the Hoyas, who won their 19th straight game at the Verizon Center.

The Bearcats (13-13, 8-6) were seeking their season-high fourth straight win but instead suffered their worst loss of the season.

"They're by far the best defensive team we've played all year," Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said.

"People have been unjustly saying negative things about their team. They're playing in the Big East. They're playing in the deepest conference in the history of college basketball. ... I'm glad we don't play them again."

The Bearcats scored the first four points of the game, but Georgetown scored the next 10 and outscored the Bearcats 32-14 to take a 32-18 lead with 2:27 remaining in the first half.

Cincinnati's offense was stifled by the Hoyas' swarming defense. Hibbert, who blocked a career-high six shots in Georgetown's win over Providence on Monday, had four blocks in the first half. The Bearcats missed nine of their first 11 shots from the field and didn't make their third field goal until 7:23 remained in the half.

The Hoyas, who entered Saturday holding opponents to 35.7 percent shooting from the field, held Cincinnati to almost exactly that -- 36.4 percent.

"We know our offense is going to be there," Sapp said. "We just want to focus more on the defensive end."

That gives Hibbert more incentive to block shots.

"I just felt that it was my natural job," Hibbert said. "I want to alter as many shots as I can."

Vaughn hit three 3-pointers in the final minutes of the half and Jamual Warren's layup with a second to play cut the Hoyas' halftime lead to 34-27. The Bearcats hit six of their final nine field goal attempts in the half.

As a timeout was called with 15:51 remaining, Sapp and Williamson began jawing and both teams swarmed onto the court. Both players were assessed technical fouls.