MEN'S BASKETBALL | Georgetown Blows Out Syracuse
Hoyas Secure Share of Regular Season Title
Published: Saturday, March 9, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 14, 2013 16:03
In a rivalry that began when John Thompson Jr. declared Manley Field House “officially closed,” Georgetown (23-5, 14-4 Big East) didn’t just write the final chapter but firmly closed the book with a 61-39 rout of Syracuse (23-8, 11-7 Big East) on Saturday afternoon at Verizon Center.
The Hoyas secured a share of the conference regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament with the win. In the trophy presentation ceremony after the game, Head Coach John Thompson III led the remaining crowd in a “We Are Georgetown” chant.
“It’s really special, on a lot of different levels,” Thompson III said. “I’ve been a head coach 13 years, and this is my sixth regular season championship. And right now, this one feels nicer than any of the rest of them.”
Rebounding from a 67-57 loss at Villanova Wednesday, Georgetown’s backcourt came ready to play and managed to overcome a quiet game — at least in the points column — from sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr., who was named a Wooden Award finalist just before tip-off.
Junior point guard Markel Starks led the way with 19 points and five assists, including five three-pointers. Freshman guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera had a huge all-around day with 15 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Porter Jr. scored only 10 points in what may be his final game in the Phonebooth, but he still stuffed the stat sheet as usual: The star forward finished with eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals and a block.
“They knew we wanted to get it to him in the middle, and they did a good job of not letting us do that,” Thompson III said. “In the second half, collectively, we figured out some different ways to enter it into him. ... Once it got in there, they were almost matching up man-to-man with him. He was able to start picking them apart and finding open teammates.”
“I would just assume he’d get 30,” Boeheim said of Porter Jr. “We just didn’t do a good job defensively on their guards. ... You just cannot let those guys shoot the ball.”
On the other end, Georgetown’s mix of high-pressure zone and man-to-man defensive looks forced Syracuse into one of its worst offensive games of all time. The Orange shot 15-for-47 — just 31.9 percent — including a 1-for-11 effort from three-point range.
Sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams had 17 points, five turnovers and just two assists, while junior forward C.J. Fair had nine points on three-of-10 shooting.
“Our guys take pride in not only the one-on-one challenge of ‘I need to stop my man’ but [also] the understanding that the other four people have to support,” Thompson III said. “They’ve done a great job of helping each other.”
Saturday’s crowd was announced at 20,972 fans, the largest-ever attendance for a indoor sporting event in the D.C. metropolitan area. Many of the Syracuse fans who filled the upper deck left, disappointed, with minutes left to play.
After the game, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim cited Georgetown’s physicality on defense and a failure to defend the Hoyas’ guards as the primary reasons for his team’s defeat, which was an especially disappointing way to end the Big East rivalry.
“It’s been a 30-year rivalry and it’s had its ups and downs. It’s been a great rivalry and it’s been pretty competitive,” Boeheim said. “This was probably one of the least competitive. … We’ve had a few like this, but not many.”
Boeheim was in an unusually good mood after the loss, especially considering Syracuse’s 39 points marked the lowest point total in conference play during the veteran coach’s tenure. He responded to questions about the Big East with five-minute soliloquies on the origins of the conference, then joked with press about his impending retirement.
“I’m not very emotional, so I’m just going to smile,” Boeheim said. “I’m pretty much ready to go play golf someplace. If I was 40 years old, I’d be pretty upset. I’m not 40 years old.”
Thompson III reflected on the nature of the win with an allusion to his father’s days in the early years of the Big East.
“That makes it very special,” Thompson III said when asked about his continuation of Thompson Jr.’s rivalry with Syracuse. “The Big East as we have known it is ending. Georgetown won the first one, and now Georgetown has won the last.”
Of course, don’t mistake the coach’s satisfaction for complacency.
“The regular season is a phase, and we accomplished what we wanted to with that. The Big East tournament is the second phase, and then the NCAA tournament is the next phase.” Thompson III said.
“Hopefully we can keep getting better. We’re better today than we were last week, and hopefully we’ll be better next week than we are this week.”