MEN'S BASKETBALL | Georgetown Upsets Louisville in Thriller
Published: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 1, 2013 01:02
Ladies and gentlemen, the Cardiac Cards are back in town.
Georgetown edged then-No. 5 Louisville in a 53-51 screamer Saturday afternoon, its second upset of a nationally ranked team this week.
Sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr. and junior guard Markel Starks scored 17 points apiece for the Hoyas (14-4, 4-3 Big East), who move into a seven-way tie for third place in the conference with the win. The Cardinals (16-4, 4-3 Big East) dropped their third straight game after starting 16-1, a streak that sent them down to No. 12 in Monday’s AP poll.
“Let’s get this straight: That’s a hell of a team. That’s one of the best teams in the country,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said of Louisville. “I think it speaks to how strong this league is that one of the best teams in the country could lose a couple of games in a row. ... That’s a very good win against an outstanding team.”
Georgetown controlled the game for much of the first half, but Louisville made a mid-second-half run that set the stage for a finish that will go down in Verizon Center history.
With the score knotted at 50 and just under four minutes left to play, freshman guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera broke free for a layup but missed his mark. Redshirt sophomore guard Aaron Bowen raced in from the wing, timed his jump perfectly and skied for a spectacular backwards tip-in that would prove to be the winning basket.
“The dead ball before his basket, he said, ‘I’ma get one, coach, I’ma get one.’ And then he goes out and does it,” Thompson III said.
“I tell him all the time that he’s one of the most athletic people on this planet,” Starks said. “He just came out of nowhere. ... It was unbelievable.”
After a few mostly fruitless possessions for both teams, Louisville junior guard Russ Smith elevated for a jumper at the top of the key with 35 seconds left and the Cardinals down a point. He missed badly, Porter grabbed an easy rebound and Louisville junior center Gorgui Dieng promptly wrapped up the Hoyas’ star.
The baseline referee initially seemed to indicate a foul on Dieng — which most of the arena believed to be accurate — but proceeded to call a jump ball, which returned possession to the Cardinals and provoked the loudest chorus of boos at Verizon Center in recent memory.
Louisville senior guard and Big East preseason player of the year Peyton Siva dribbled off a screen and tossed up a game-winning attempt that clanged off the back rim. Georgetown sophomore guard Jabril Trawick tipped the ball to Porter, who was fouled immediately and sank one of two free throws to seal the game.
The Cardinals were favored coming into the game despite their losing streak, as most experts agreed that the weak Georgetown offense would stand no chance against Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino’s high-pressure defense. But Louisville’s own inability to make shots meant that the Cardinals couldn’t set up their press as often as Pitino liked, so the Hoyas often advanced the ball unmolested.
“Our press is great. I think it’s one of the best presses in the country,” Pitino said. “The problem with us is we don’t get it on enough because we shoot such a low percentage. If we could ever shoot not great, just 45, 46 percent, our press would do serious damage.”
When the visitors did manage to score and set up their pressure, Starks dribbled around the defense and essentially served as a one-man press break. The junior played one of his best games of the season, holding Siva scoreless and hitting several big shots to stave off Louisville’s rally attempt, including a step-back jumper with a defender’s hand inches from his face.
“It’s easy to look at the points, and he hit big shots when we needed them,” Thompson III said. “But more importantly, fighting over their ball screens, getting in front of their guards — it’s work, hard work. And I thought he did that all night.”
The Cardinals shot 4-of-10 from the free throw line in the second half of their two-point loss. Georgetown won the battle of the boards against Dieng and the strong Louisville frontcourt, which Pitino cited as a major reason for his team’s result.
The Hoyas improve to 4-1 without the services of sophomore forward Greg Whittington, who remains academically ineligible.
“I’m thinking of suspending a player,” Pitino quipped afterward.