Georgetown’s game against Marquette on Saturday will be about remembering. It will be about reflecting back on 100 years of Georgetown basketball, and such dates as April 2, 1984, when Georgetown won its first national championship, and Jan. 21, 2006, when the Hoyas upset then-undefeated and top-ranked Duke. But perhaps most importantly, it will be about remembering March 9, 2006 – the day the Hoyas defeated Marquette 62-59 in the Big East Tournament and held the Golden Eagles’ standout guard, Dominic James, to eight points on 2-of-15 shooting.

In order to beat No. 11 Marquette (21-4, 8-2 Big East) this time around and take sole possession of second place in the Big East, the No. 22 Hoyas (17-5, 7-2) will once again need to keep James on a tight leash, though Head Coach John Thompson III admitted that repeating last year’s defensive performance against the 5-foot-11 sophomore will not be an easy task.

“I think that that game was one of those days where the stars were just aligned right for us,” Thompson said. “He’s too good of a player and he’s too competitive and they run too many different things for him to go into a game anticipating, or even hoping, that we can hold this guy to making only two baskets. You do your best, but he’s too strong to think that that’s going to happen.”

Thompson’s players know the depth of the challenge that awaits them in defending James just as well.

“You’ve got to stay around Dominic James a lot,” junior guard Jonathan Wallace said. “He’s a guy who’s going to be in perpetual motion. He’s trying to score every possession. You’ve just got to stay in front of him and force him to take difficult shots.”

Although James, named the 2005-06 Big East Rookie of the Year, is Marquette’s best player, the Golden Eagles are not a one-man team. At 15.6 points per game, James ranks ninth in the Big East in scoring, and with 4.68 assists per game ranks sixth in the conference. But sophomore guard Jerel McNeal is not far behind him, averaging 14.6 points and 4.1 assists per contest.

Sophomore guard Wesley Matthews and junior forward Ousmane Barro are also solid contributors. Matthews averages 12.4 points, while Barro scores 8.9 points and grabs 6.8 rebounds per game.

“I think most people give [Marquette] a lot of credit for being balanced – that’s what their strength is.,” Thompson said. “They put five guys on the floor and then bring a couple off the bench that can hurt you. At both ends of the floor, they’re very effective.”

The Golden Eagles certainly have been effective as of late – they have won eight games in a row, currently the longest winning streak in the Big East. The Hoyas have been surging as well – their six-game winning streak ranks second in the conference.

“We’re playing as a team extremely well,” Georgetown junior center Roy Hibbert said. “Everybody trusts each other when we’re out there. Every day we’re getting better and better.”

Marquette’s current streak contains one particularly impressive victory and one rather poor win. The Golden Eagles traveled to No. 7 Pittsburgh and handed the Panthers their only conference loss so far this year by a score of 77-74 on Jan. 21. A week later, Marquette struggled on the road against hapless South Florida but managed to survive 70-68.

The Golden Eagles’ 8-2 Big East record is somewhat remarkable considering the way they began conference play. In their first two Big East games, they lost at Providence 74-59 and then fell at home to Syracuse 70-58. Marquette’s most embarrassing loss of the season came on Dec. 2, however, when they lost on their home court to North Dakota State 64-60.

Still, quality road wins at Duke on Nov. 21 and at Louisville on Jan. 15 suggest that the North Dakota State loss was an aberration, much like Georgetown’s Nov. 19 loss to Old Dominion. arquette also proved its mettle by crushing West Virginia 81-63 at home on Jan. 13.

Saturday’s match-up figures to be a battle of quickness versus height. Marquette’s guards are as good as just about any in the country, while Georgetown boasts one of the nation’s tallest and most talented frontcourts with 7-foot-2 Hibbert and 6-foot-9 junior forward Jeff Green.

“It’s going to be a great ball game, a tremendous challenge for us because we’re kind of small and quick and they’ve got a lot of length, especially on that front line, so it’s going to be a contrast in styles, for sure,” arquette Assistant Coach Jerry Sichting said. “They play the Princeton Offense and really do a great job of passing and sharing the ball and using the shot clock a lot of times, and we really want to run the ball up the floor and play a flashy type of game, so one of the big keys may be who gets off to the best start.”

Georgetown’s team field goal percentage is the best in the Big East at 52.6 percent. Marquette ranks ninth in the conference with a 45.1 percentage. According to http://kenpom.com, the Hoyas now have the most efficient offense in the country.

“[The Golden Eagles] are very explosive and quick, both offensively and defensively,” Wallace said. “They’re a team that plays with a lot of intensity, and we’re really going to have to match that. But at the same time we’re going to have to use our size and use our offense and our system of play to gain an advantage over them.”

Barro’s defense and rebounding will be critical for the Golden Eagles. Hibbert holds a significant height advantage over Barro, who at 6-foot-10 is the Golden Eagles’ tallest player who averages over three minutes of playing time per game.

“[Barro] is a really strong defender,” Hibbert said. “He goes off of the offensive glass extremely well, and he’s a very strong presence. We’re just going to have to make sure he doesn’t hurt us. We’re going to have to limit his rebounds and points.”

Thompson said that he is not sure how the 100 Years of Hoya Basketball festivities will affect Georgetown’s performance, but stressed that the Hoyas need to maintain their focus. Green echoed Thompson’s sentiments.

“There is a lot of tradition coming back to Georgetown on Saturday,” Green said. “But we have to focus on the game. We can’t look too much into the types of events that are going on – we have a game to try to win against a good team.”

Saturday’s opening tip is set for noon at Verizon Center. The game will be televised on ESPN.

– Hoya Staff Writer Brenna McGee contributed to this report.

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