MEN'S BASKETBALL | Juiced: Hoyas Finally Win at Syracuse
Georgetown 64, Syracuse 56
Published: Thursday, February 10, 2011
Updated: Friday, February 11, 2011 03:02
The climb continues.
Since falling to 1-4 in the Big East, the Hoyas (19-5, 8-4 Big East) have won seven straight games, the latest a 64-56 victory over archrival Syracuse (20-5, 7-5 Big East) at the Carrier Dome — Georgetown's first win on the road against the Orange since 2002 and Head Coach John Thompson III's first ever at the Dome.
"This Georgetown-Syracuse [rivalry]," he said. "This is big for this conference. This is big to me. This is big to our school. So did I know that I hadn't won in this building, absolutely."
At the perfect time, the Hoyas have shown maturity and a seeming determination to rise above the inconsistency and disappointment that have plagued them over the past two seasons. During their current streak, no win exemplifies how far Georgetown has come more than the grind-it-out victory it got over Syracuse — the Orange's third straight defeat at home — when no one starred and the Hoyas simply made timely plays.
"This game was big for us," said senior point guard Chris Wright, one of five Hoyas in double figures. "It's a big rivalry. It has a lot of history and tradition. We just wanted to come here and execute and get a win in a hostile environment."
Having never won in the building, Wright, along with fellow senior guard Austin Freeman and senior forward Julian Vaughn, played like veterans when it mattered most. The Hoyas used Wright to break down the vaunted 2-3 zone, and the captain delivered with nine assists and just one turnover against a difficult Orange defense. Freeman worked for 14 points and Vaughn continued to roll with 12 points and eight rebounds. Junior guard Jason Clark chipped in 12 and sophomore forward Hollis Thompson came off the bench with 11.
As a team the Hoyas assisted on 20 of their 24 field goals and shot just well enough (9-of-21) from beyond the arc.
Much maligned for their overall performance on the glass, the Hoyas, who actually have a positive rebounding margin for the entire season and in the Big East, outdid Syracuse on the boards, 28-21, and fought to a 10-10 stalemate on the offensive glass.
"We did a good job at the end of getting the rebounds we needed to get," Thompson said. "We had a few timeouts where all we talked about — if you can call it talking — was, 'That's the game. That is the game.' We're causing them to miss. Are we going to get the rebound or not? Do we want to win or not?"
Still, Georgetown trailed by four late in the second half, but it ended the game on a gutsy 15-3 run, fueled by a game-tying Thompson three-pointer with 3:47 to go and two Clark layups off back cuts.
"They [the Hoyas] made their shots at the end, and we had some miscues and they capitalized," said Syracuse junior forward Kris Joseph, who led the Orange with 14 points.
A huge moment in the game came at the 14:40 mark of the second half when bruising senior forward Rick Jackson picked up his fourth foul, prompting Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim to bench him until 5:37 remained. On paper, he provided the Orange with an asset in the paint, but Jackson, averaging a double-double, had a season-low four points and was outplayed by Vaughn.
"The refs really took me out of my game," Jackson said. "After you've been sitting out and you come back in, you don't want to foul, so you play a little timid. In a game like this, a rivalry like this, you'd think the refs would let you play your game. They blew the whistle a lot. What can you do?"
Georgetown returns to the court Sunday against Marquette looking to push its longest Big East winning streak since its 2007 Final Four season to eight. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. at Verizon Center.