MEN'S BASKETBALL | Hoyas Stun No. 7 Spartans
Published: Saturday, February 1, 2014
Updated: Sunday, February 2, 2014 12:02
With its season hanging in the balance, Georgetown (12-9, 3-6 Big East) secured its biggest win of the year with a 64-60 upset victory over No. 7 Michigan State (19-3, 8-1 Big Ten) on Saturday afternoon in New York.
"You lose a couple in a row and life is hard. It's hell," Head Coach John Thompson III said, according to the Associated Press. "It's a good win, and I would feel that way regardless of the opponent the way we've been going."
Losers of five straight coming into Saturday’s game, the Hoyas finally found the right combination of frontcourt and backcourt play and found scoring opportunities beyond senior guard Markel Starks and sophomore guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera.
Junior forward Mikael Hopkins scored Georgetown’s first six points, part of a concerted effort to challenge a Michigan State squad that was depleted by the absence of senior center Adreian Payne and junior forward Branden Dawson.
Led by sophomore guard Gary Harris, the Spartans retreated to the backcourt, making five three-pointers in the first half.
Hopkins and senior forward Nate Lubick’s strong post play, however, kept the Hoyas in the contest, and Michigan State carried a narrow 30-29 lead into the intermission.
Just 18 seconds into the second half, freshman forward Reggie Cameron nailed a three-pointer to give Georgetown a lead that it would not surrender.
Although the Hoyas would extend their lead to as many as eight points, the Spartans never quite went away. A Harris three cut Georgetown’s lead to 56-54 with less than two minutes to go, but junior guard Jabril Trawick slammed home a missed Starks jumper, and a Starks free throw on the next possession extended the advantage to 59-54.
"It's a relief to get a win," Starks said after the game. "It feels good, finally."
A Trawick dunk with 28 seconds remaining and Smith-Rivera’s three made free throws in the final minute sealed the deal for Georgetown.
Scrappy play in the game’s final minutes was a theme throughout the game, with the Hoyas outrebounding the Spartans 37-30 on the afternoon.
"You're not going to beat Michigan State or any team in the Big East if you aren't physically tough," Thompson said. "You need to be tough enough to make the hustle plays, run down the loose balls, run down the long rebounds and have communication on defense."
In the final minute — and throughout the game — Georgetown also had Michigan State’s measure at the charity stripe, where an emphasis on committing fewer fouls and drawing more paid off for the Hoyas.
By the end of the game, Georgetown had committed just 14 fouls and sunk 18-of-24 free-throw attempts, much better than the Spartans 9-for-16 from the charity stripe.
Whether Georgetown can post a similar effort against a Big East opponent will be put to the test Monday night at DePaul.
The Blue Demons, perpetual residents in the league’s lower echelons, have lost four straight, including a 77-72 home loss to Providence on Saturday.
Tipoff against DePaul is set for 9 p.m. The game will be televised on Fox Sports 1.