MEN'S BASKETBALL | Porter Jr. Silences Carrier Dome
Published: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 00:02
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The “Hoya Saxa” chants rained down from the rafters as nearly 35,000 Syracuse fans shuffled out of the Carrier Dome in stunned silence.
There was still a minute left on the clock.
Sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr. singlehandedly lifted No. 11 Georgetown (21-4, 11-3 Big East) to a 57-46 win over No. 8 Syracuse (22-5, 10-4 Big East) Saturday afternoon, in what is likely to be the archrivals’ penultimate meeting as conference foes.
Porter Jr.’s 33-point, eight-rebound, five-steal performance cemented him as the favorite for Big East player of the year and added to his case for Wooden Award consideration.
“He just dominated the game,” Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim said of Porter. “He really won the game. He had to make plays, and he made them all day.”
“I thought I was pretty good,” Porter Jr. said afterwards.
The game had all the makings of an instant classic, and for much of the afternoon, it appeared that it would come down to the final seconds. The Orange leapt out to a 12-4 lead in the opening minutes, but the Hoyas climbed back quickly and took a one-point lead on a thunderous Porter Jr. dunk.
The two teams fought a war of attrition for the remainder of the half; with baskets nearly impossible to come by, even a five-point lead seemed comfortable. Syracuse forwards C.J. Fair and James Southerland countered Porter Jr. by stopping each Georgetown run with a well-timed basket, but none of the stars could score often enough to give his team a real cushion.
That is, not until the second half.
After a Syracuse run to close the opening frame and a back-and-forth start to the second, Porter Jr. took over the game. He scored in every way imaginable — three-pointers, tip-ins, free throws — somehow imposing his will on the Orange without breaking the flow of the complex Georgetown offense.
“To play like that up here against that kind of opponent — that takes a special kind of player,” Head Coach John Thompson III said.
After holding the advantage for much of the gritty first half, Syracuse bowed out with a whimper rather than the roar that Hoyas fans have become accustomed to. Offensive futility in the face of Georgetown’s zone turned into frustration, frustration into defensive breakdowns and defensive breakdowns into wide-open looks for Porter Jr.
With 4:52 to play and the Hoyas up four, Porter Jr. elevated for a long three to cut off the Orange momentum and put the game nearly out of reach. Syracuse senior Brandon Triche ran into the Georgetown star on his closeout, sending both players tumbling to the ground.
And because it was that kind of day, the shot went in.
“I don’t how that went in, but it did,” he said. “I was speechless.”
Speechless or not, Porter hammered the nail home by sinking the free throw and completing the four-point play. The orange-clad crowd began streaming toward the exits minutes later, having witnessed a home loss for the first time in 39 games over the course of more than two years.
The Hoyas move into sole possession of first place in the Big East with the win and Marquette’s loss to Villanova. They play at Connecticut Wednesday, but that wasn’t on anyone’s mind Saturday night.
Instead, McDonough Arena was aglow with the kind of joy only a win over Syracuse can bring.