NEW YORK – Trailing by eight, with just under five minutes remaining in the first half, Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III called a timeout. It was just a 30-second break – enough time for the Hoyas (16-5, 6-2 Big East) to settle down and think about their next offensive possession – but it proved to be the turning point in Georgetown’s 72-48 win over St. John’s (12-10, 3-6) in Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.

After the timeout, the Hoyas played with a focus that was lacking for most of the first half. In the first 15 minutes Georgetown made just five field goals; in the last five minutes they connected on three. Freshman forward DaJuan Summers knocked down a three from the top of the arc, junior forward Jeff Green made a pair of free throws and then guards junior Jonathan Wallace and sophomore Jessie Sapp nailed back-to-back treys to cut the Red Storm’s eight-point lead to just one as the teams went into the break.

“In a half in which we didn’t necessarily play well, to go into halftime down one was key,” Thompson said. “But it was just our intensity picked up during that latter stretch and carried right over to the start of the second half.”

In the second half the Hoyas were not just intense – they were on fire. Georgetown scored the first 11 points of the half and then went on a 22-5 run that sealed the Hoyas’ fifth consecutive victory.

In under 11 minutes in the second period, Georgetown scored 28 points – one more than it had scored in the entire first period – en route to a 45-point second half effort, the Hoyas’ highest scoring half during conference play.

“[Our second half] was pretty good, but it started at the other end,” Thompson said. “It started with our defensive intensity. It started with us running down loose balls. It started with us getting rebounds and that just carried over to an easy flow and the hardness that we had at the offensive end.”

After shooting just 39 percent from the floor in the first period, the Hoyas shot a lights-out 74 percent in the second. They also played shut-down defense, holding the Storm to just eight field goals on 32 percent shooting in the second half.

“Give Georgetown a lot of credit,” St. John’s Head Coach Norm Roberts said. “They really played well in the second half and shot the ball well. We didn’t do a good job of guarding and we got off to a bad start. . We did a good job in the first half and they did a good job in the second half.”

Though the Hoyas played like two different teams in the two halves, one player was consistent: Green. The Wooden Award candidate played with intensity from the opening tip-off, leading the Hoyas with a career-high 24 points – 12 in each half – plus eight rebounds and four assists in a team-high 36 minutes.

Wallace was the only other Hoya in double digits with 13 points. Sapp added nine, junior center Roy Hibbert had eight and Summers had six to round out scoring for the Georgetown starters.

In the first half, St. John’s had balanced scoring – nine points each from senior forward Lamont Hamilton and junior guard Eugene Lawrence. But Hamilton fouled out in the early minutes of the second half, and Lawrence, even with seven second-half points, could not carry his team to victory.

“I don’t think we responded to their run,” Roberts said. “Even when we did make some plays, we bobbled balls. We got fast-break layups, and we bobbled the ball. We got some wide-open shots we made in the first half that we didn’t make in the second half. We just have to be able make those plays.”

The Hoyas, after committing only 12 turnovers in their previous two games combined, were sloppy on Thursday night. Georgetown turned the ball over on three of its first four possessions and committed 16 turnovers overall, which the Red Storm converted into 19 points.

But Georgetown, after collecting just 10 first-half rebounds, crashed the boards in the second half and collected 20 rebounds, allowing St. John’s to get to just seven second-half boards. The Hoyas also had four blocks – three from Hibbert – and eight steals that provided all the room the team needed to dominate the inconsistent St. John’s.

“On the defensive end I felt we communicated very well,” Green said. “We made all of the hustle plays. If we keep communicating and make all the hustle plays, we can play like we did in the second half.”

The Hoyas will travel next to the always-tough Freedom Hall to take on the Louisville Cardinals (16-6, 6-2). The Cardinals, coming off a 9-53 victory over Cincinnati, have won 11 of their last 13 games.

Led by Rick Pitino, Louisville will play Villanova tomorrow before facing the Hoyas next Wednesday. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

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