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Freshman guard Jason Clark

It is easy to get excited by impressive numbers, and in an 88-74 drubbing of the Syracuse Orange the Hoyas had plenty of stellar stats to go around. However, shooting streaks, both hot and cold, are part of any season and the two performances from Wednesday that should really excite Hoya fans were the play of freshman backup guard Jason Clark, and, believe it or not, senior starting guard Jessie Sapp.

So far this season, Clark has been inconsistent off the bench. With minute totals ranging from 25 to seven, and a paltry five three-point makes in 22 attempts, Clark’s flashes of brilliance have shown potential, but his shot selection and a .75 assist-to-turnover ratio led to many of the questions that have surrounded the Georgetown bench’s depth. Tonight, however, the former high school All-American’s 12 points, including two three-pointers on just six shots from the field, showed the kind of efficiency coaches love in a sixth man.

Outside of the box score, Clark exhibited the ability to hit when it counted. A three nearly four minutes into the second half put a stop to the Orange’s 8-0 run to start the half. Coach John Thompson III credited the team’s ability to get into a groove after this early run as his favorite achievement of the game, and it was Clark’s big three that got the wheels in motion.

In the game’s final challenge, Clark also scooped up a loose ball with 8 seconds on the shot clock, and with a clear awareness of the dwindling shot clock, he drove from half-court to the basket, putting the final nail in Syracuse’s coffin.

After the game, Thompson praised his freshman guard saying, “Jason is just someone you put on the floor and he makes plays . Scoring points is something that just happens with him.”

With his season-high 28 minutes, Thompson showed he was willing to put Clark on the floor, and even when the Syracuse defense started to wake up, the freshman handled the ball with poise and made the press seem futile.

Clark was also stellar on the defensive end for the Hoyas. He helped keep the explosive Jonny Flynn in check for much of the second half, as he played the kind of aggressive, hands-in-your-face defense that draws the ire of opposing players and fans.

eanwhile, third-year starter Jessie Sapp was unable to break his month-long funk. The senior scored just two points on four shots, and he played only 19 minutes, tying his season low. However, unlike the losses against Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, where his combined 10 points on 14 shots hardly warranted his 31-minute average, Sapp earned every second on Wednesday.

Rather than simply getting frustrated with his limited minutes and trying to shoot his way back into the rotation, Sapp attempted only two three-pointers, and he seemed to be passing up open looks to find a teammate with the hotter hand.

Instead of shooting, the senior guard shifted his focus to playing the kind of aggressive defense that was instrumental to the Hoyas’ first-half dominance.

Sapp pulled down three offensive boards to lead the team, and Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim felt the sting saying, “They really made some big shots, got some big offensive rebounds early in the game, and we got in such a hole.”

Sapp wasn’t draining the big shots, but he found another way to help the Hoyas.

Fans may cringe at the comparison, but it was almost as if graduated guard Tyler Crawford was back in uniform. Despite rarely lighting up the box score, Crawford’s effort, leadership and defense made him a fan – and perhaps coach – favorite. Wednesday, the Georgetown crowd, which had plenty of dunks and pretty shots to enthrall them, chanted for every Sapp offensive rebound and cheered all three of his steals.

Of course Sapp has, throughout his career, shown a lot more talent than Tyler Crawford ever did. It’s not as if Sapp has suddenly turned into a terrible shooter, and even if this slump continues for another month of agony, it would be foolish to count him out when the postseason rolls around.

On a night when the back-up, Clark, hit a season-high in scoring and minutes converged with the starter, Sapp, experiencing a season-low, backcourt change may be in the wind, but even if Clark takes half of Jessie’s minutes in the games to come, it’s encouraging to know that Sapp can thrive in the role of hustling senior.

On a night where every shot seemed to drop for the Hoyas, two of the team’s biggest missing pieces may have found their proper place.

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