LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Hoyas sure know how to ruin a party.

On the night that the court in Freedom Hall was dedicated to Louisville’s Hall of Fame Coach Denny Crum, No. 22 Georgetown (17-5, 7-2 Big East) marred the celebration with a dominant 73-65 victory over the host Cardinals (16-8, 6-4).

“They were a much better basketball team than us,” Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino said. “I think we could have played them 10 times and they would have won nine. We knew that going in, that it would be a very difficult game. We would have had to play almost perfect to win and we were far from perfect.”

The Hoyas’ victory moved the team into third place in the Big East, and leaves them in good position to take second with a win over No. 11 Marquette Saturday afternoon.

“We still can continue to get better, but we definitely are settling into a groove,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said. “But this is the Big East. It doesn’t get any easier. We have a terrific Marquette team coming in and so we just have to hone in and focus and get ready for our next opponent, which is a terrific opponent.”

The win extended Georgetown’s winning streak to six games, but unlike the previous five, Wednesday’s win came against a team in the top half of the Big East standings and anything but a cakewalk. The Cardinals, looking to keep their tournament hopes alive, challenged the Hoyas down the stretch, going on runs that kept the game close. But Georgetown, demonstrating a maturity and poise that was lacking in early-season losses, held on for the eight-point victory, their first single-digit win of the year.

“It’s just maturity,” Thompson said. “As the season has progressed, we’ve gotten better. We’ve been in this environment, in very difficult environments, a lot this year. The crowd gets into it, they go on a run and our guys are used to that. We did a good job of just settling down.”

The Cardinals, who have been a solid defensive team this year, could not stop the Hoyas. Louisville has held its opponents to 39.8 percent accuracy on the season, but Georgetown went off for 56.5 percent shooting, making the Hoyas just the third team this year to hit 50 percent or better against the Cardinals.

The Hoyas’ impressive offensive production was due in large part to the dominating play of the front court. Junior center Roy Hibbert and junior forward Jeff Green, who had seemingly been taking turns having big games, combined their powers for an unprecedented offensive explosion Wednesday. Hibbert went 9-for-10 from the floor, notching 20 points and 11 rebounds for his second double-double this year. Green, hitting shots from an array of spots on the floor, went 7-for-10 for 16 points and added seven rebounds and four assists.

“We just couldn’t stop their big guys,” Pitino said. “They’ve got two potential lottery picks down there in Hibbert and Green who are almost impossible to stop. And when they go 16-of-20 from the field, you’re not going to beat them.”

Louisville’s shooting percentage plummeted pathetically: The Cardinals shot just 33.3 percent for the game. Louisville kept it close in the first half with three-point shooting, at one point eliminating the Hoyas’ lead by hitting four straight treys, but the Cardinals could not match the Hoyas’ height in the paint. Hibbert held Louisville’s big man, 6-foot-11 junior center David Padgett, to just one field goal, and sophomore forward Terence Williams went an abysmal 3-for-17 on the night.

“His presence at both ends was felt,” Thompson said of Hibbert. “At the defensive end he was a presence. I didn’t want David to get into comfort zone and start to go off. I thought Roy’s size would kind of contain him a little bit.”

In their first meeting since Louisville joined the Big East, both teams meticulous basketball. The Cardinals set a Big East record with just one turnover in the game and the Hoyas, who are not known for consistently taking care of the ball, turned it over just seven times on the night.

Facing a serious press for the first time since its loss to Villanova, Georgetown responded well and did not make the same mistakes.

“After the Villanova loss we went back to the gym and decided we can’t have those turnovers because those turnovers come back to haunt you down the road,” Green said. “We know a lot of teams are going to pressure us after that game so we just have to continue to hold onto the ball, be strong with the ball and not turn it over like that because we will lose a lot of games like that.”

The Hoyas also kept the glass clean, out rebounding the Cardinals 35-30. Louisville collected 16 offensive boards, but only converted them into 14 points, a number offset by Georgetown’s 12 second-chance points.

“I felt like, particularly when we had to, our guys did a good job of hitting the boards and getting the rebounds,” Thompson said. “Coming into the game, we wanted to try to limit their second chance – we gave up 16 offensive rebounds, that’s too many. I felt like we got big rebounds when we needed both Jeff and Roy on the offensive end I thought were very good.”

Both Green and Hibbert will have to be excellent for the Hoyas to collect their seventh straight win. Playing host to the Golden Eagles (21-4, 8-2) will be Georgetown’s biggest challenge in nearly a month. A victory over a top 25 opponent would be a valuable accolade on the Hoyas’ season resume.

Tip-off Saturday is set for noon at Verizon Center.

Notes:

Upsetting the home team on a special occasion is nothing new to the Hoyas. Georgetown did it twice to Syracuse, beating the Orangemen in the final game in Manley Field House and then again on the night that their court was dedicated to Head Coach Jim Boeheim. The Hoyas defeated Villanova as it celebrated the 20th anniversary of its upset over Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA title game. The Hoyas beat the Wildcats 66-64, the reverse score of the 1985 game.

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