Heading into the locker room at halftime, Georgetown appeared to be overmatched by a fast-paced UConn team that had asserted its will on both ends of the floor. Walking off the court after an improbable 72-69 victory, however, Austin Freeman and the Hoyas proved that the complexion of a game in the Big East can change on a dime.

Playing sloppy offense and seemingly unable to stop Stanley Robinson, John Thompson III’s team needed a spark as it faced a 15-point halftime deficit and the prospect of falling to 2-2 in league play. As if on cue, Freeman dialed up the best half of his Georgetown career, which included 28 points and a few key defensive plays, and when he took his total game to the next level, his teammates followed.

“Austin was rolling,” Thompson said. “He did a terrific job of getting to the basket. He’s done a terrific job lately of seeking contact and getting to the rim, and he did that in the second half today.”

Known primarily as a three-point shooter his freshman year, Freeman, like many of his teammates, struggled to find consistency last season. A year older and several pounds lighter, he has re-emerged as an offensive catalyst. In telling fashion, he appeared to recognize that the Hoyas were on the brink of getting run out of the arena, and using his sweet stroke and aggressiveness, he turned the tide.

“They had Austin Freeman in uniform, that helps an awful lot,” Connecticut Head Coach Jim Calhoun said of how Georgetown pulled off the comeback. “With good systems like Georgetown’s, they will get the ball to the right players in the right places.”

Indeed, with the style of offense the Hoyas employ, it is rare for one player to fill up the stat sheet game in and game out. For as much as Freeman took control of the action and capitalized on opportunities the Huskies gave him, his teammates were aware of the situation and were successful in doing their part to allow the former McDonald’s All-American to shine.

“I’ve said this several times. We have a lot of guys in that [locker] room that can score,” Thompson said. “One day it will be [Monroe], another day it will be [Freeman], another day it will be [Wright] or [Clark]. This is an unselfish group, and I think they’re doing a very good job at both ends of the floor for the most part. . Austin was rolling, the guys were unselfish, and that’s when we’re at our best.”

Even as Freeman was having one of the better performances in recent Georgetown history, the Hoyas’ intensity on defense in the second half indicated that they have come a long way since stumbling to a 16-15 finish a year ago. At a time when last season’s young team might have folded and allowed its opponent to cruise to an easy win, Thompson’s unit rose to the occasion, erased a 15-point halftime deficit through methodical execution on both ends, and took advantage of the Huskies’ mistakes down the stretch to come away with the biggest win of its season so far.

Georgetown simply looked like a different team once Freeman got hot. The opening moments of the second half resembled the entirety of the first period, with the Huskies tallying the first bucket of the half and keeping the Hoyas at bay. Yet the DeMatha product began to explode from beyond the arc and with his dribble drive, Connecticut lost its offensive rhythm, and the Georgetown defense began to force turnovers and make stops.

While there is plenty of basketball left to be played, the Hoyas’ furious come-from-behind victory can be considered a landmark win for this group of players, most of whom endured last year’s frustrating tailspin. In front of a national television audience and faced with considerable adversity, Freeman and No. 12 Georgetown took a giant leap in the right direction.

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