Chris Wright has picked up the slack for Georgetown basketball

Chris Wright (4) and Coach John Thompson III will have to come up with a plan to face Cincinnati on Wednesday. The Bearcats have one of the best defenses in the Big East.
Chris Wright (4) and Coach John Thompson III will have to come up with a plan to face Cincinnati on Wednesday. The Bearcats have one of the best defenses in the Big East. (Washington Post)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 22, 2011; 8:18 PM

In the moments after Saturday's victory, Georgetown senior guard Chris Wright was asked when, exactly, he realized it was time to seize the starring role in the offense against South Florida. Before he could answer, Coach John Thompson III interjected, saying with a smile, "When he gets out of bed."

Thompson was kidding, of course. But he sure was glad Wright did it again.

After scoring a season-high 26 points against the Bulls, Wright has led No. 11 Georgetown (21-6, 10-5) in scoring seven times this season, including each of the past three games. Those performances have come as Austin Freeman, the team's primary source of offense, has struggled.

Wright's 21.7-point average over the past three games is, in fact, the most productive in-conference stretch of his career. Overall, Wright is second on the team in scoring average (13.6 points) behind Freeman (17.2) and just ahead of Jason Clark (12.2).

"He's done an outstanding job of managing the team and managing the game this season," Thompson said of Wright. "He's got an understanding of certain games where it's, 'Okay, the opportunities are there for me.' "

It's possible Wright will need to call his own number again Wednesday against Cincinnati (21-6, 8-6), particularly if the defense keys on Freeman or Freeman slogs through another poor shooting night. Freeman has been one of the Big East's most efficient shooters but has averaged only 11 points the past three games while shooting a combined 32.5 percent.

"Night in and night out, do we need more points from Austin Freeman?" Thompson said. "Absolutely."

Thompson said he isn't concerned about Freeman's slump because the senior shooting guard has continued to get open shots. But there's another reason Freeman's drought hasn't caused his coach more consternation: Wright's recent surge.

"We have enough flexibility and versatility that if [opponents] want to totally take Austin out of his game, we have other pieces," he said.

Over the past three games, not only has Wright been scoring more, he's been more efficient as well. He's made 50 percent of his shots, up from his season average of 43.2 percent, and knocked down 57 percent of his three-point attempts, up from 36.2 percent.

Wright and the rest of the Hoyas' scorers figure to be challenged by Cincinnati, which boasts one of stingiest defenses in the Big East. It gives up 63.6 points. The Bearcats have won two of three, including their only victory against a ranked opponent, a 63-54 win over No. 16 Louisville. The Cardinals had their second-lowest scoring total this season.

Cincinnati, however, will bring a 20-game road losing streak against ranked opponents to Verizon Center.

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