MEN'S BASKETBALL | Porter Jr., Hopkins Key in Hoyas' Escape at the RAC
Published: Saturday, February 9, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 02:02
Neither icy weather nor a red-hot opponent could stop No. 20 Georgetown (17-4, 7-3 Big East) from earning its fifth straight victory on Saturday afternoon, a gritty 69-63 win over host Rutgers (12-10, 3-8 Big East).
Junior guard Markel Starks scored 20 points to lead the Hoyas. Sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr. added 19, 14 rebounds and four assists, and it was his clutch three-point with less than six minutes to go that put his team on top for good.
It was clear from the start that Georgetown wasn’t going to have an easy time. The Hoyas ran into trouble early on when junior forward Nate Lubick, who was coming off the best game of his career, picked up his second foul less than five minutes into the game.
Rutgers sophomore Eli Carter quickly caught fire, hitting circus shot after circus shot and keeping Georgetown on the defensive. But Starks and freshman guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera answered nearly every Scarlet Knight three with a timely bucket of their own, and the teams entered the locker rooms knotted at 33.
With their best rebounder and passer benched, their star player struggling from the field and their hosts lighting it up from three-point range, the Hoyas were in desperate need of a spark. They got it, but it came from an unexpected source.
Oft-criticized sophomore center Mikael Hopkins scored 10 of his team’s first 15 second-half points, including a rim-rattling tip dunk that all but silenced the Rutgers Athletic Center crowd. But both the Scarlet Knights’ hot hands and the Hoyas’ foul trouble continued into the second frame — sharpshooting guard Myles Mack began to heat up, and Georgetown sophomore Jabril Trawick picked up his fourth foul early in the half.
After Lubick fouled out with six minutes to play, things were looking grim for the Hoyas. Porter Jr. and Hopkins would come through, though, as a series of clutch rebounds and free throws delivered the win.
Hopkins and Smith-Rivera scored 14 and 13 points, respectively. Carter scored 23 to lead the Scarlet Knights.
Porter Jr. and Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams are considered the frontrunners for the Big East player of the year award, and the former’s late-game performance today will certainly add fuel to his candidacy.
Georgetown returns to the capital in 48 hours to take on No. 24 Marquette. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.