Another chapter has been added to the Georgetown-UConn rivalry, one decided inevitably by the efforts of a rising star in the name of Austin Freeman. Freeman has shown "primetime" ability in the past but never so consistently as he has this season. Since the Butler game, Austin has not scored less than 11 points (Washington) in a game. More importantly, since Big East opening play, Freeman hasn't scored less than 15 points in a game.
On a blisteringly cold but Sunny Washington, DC Saturday, the 6'4'' guard played the best game of his career, putting up 33 points and 7 rebounds. Freeman's second half effort alone included 28 of his points, nearly topping UConn's entire second half production (29 pts). So far this season, Freeman has proven the ability to step up when it counts. Georgetown's come from behind win over UConn was a must in a lot of ways. Losing early season back-to-back games against Big East opponents could have invoked memories of last year's January collapse. A collapse the Hoyas never recovered from.
Granted, this game was not a battle between two undefeated or top ten teams, but rather, a battle for inner conference establishment and leverage. With the win, Georgetown comes out of its first four Big East games 3-1. Georgetown is 4-0 against UConn in the past four seasons, ending an 0-11 drought against their Big East foe. Just two years ago, Roy's infamous 3 point shot towards the end of regulation sent a roar through the Verizon Center crowd that has yet to be matched. Along with this past Saturday's contest, I was fortunate enough to attend that game as well. These two recent home wins against UConn will be etched in the memory of all Hoya fans. And who can forget last year's epic upset against #2 UConn? Unfortunately, it was followed by ugly losses to Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, spiraling Georgetown to a 16-15 record. So all in all, these are solid signs that this season will be different.
Julian Vaughn's continued and consistent production is a critical piece in the Hoya's success. He has knack for making big plays when needed most. His put up on Greg's missed shot in the last minutes of the game was clutch to say the least. He continues to play with more and more confidence.
There's no doubt Chris Wright is a great talent. At times, he makes plays that creates stares of amazement and awe. His offensive production is crucial to Georgetown's ability to win games. I just question his decision-making ability. Not to harp on past games, but he was out of control against Marquette. His erratic performance was capped off with an aired three. You can't be airing shots to tie a game which would subsequently send it into overtime. With that said, Wright played excellent against St. John's and Depaul, putting up 21 and 18 points respectively. He just needs some consistency to his play. At times, the DC product plays with tunnel vision. And there is absolutely no reason to dribble and pass the ball as haphazardly as he did in the waning seconds of the UConn game. Unsurprisingly, his exceptional athletic ability allowed him to barely tip the loose ball towards Freeman who subsequently made a pass to an open Monroe for the last basket. But you have to give the point guard credit where it's due, Chris does play with an unwavering passion and confidence. For a player who at times makes multiple mistakes, he never let's it affect his confidence and desire to take the big shot. Confidence creates play-making ability and opportunities. You can't teach this quality, but rather, it comes natural.
I want to commend Jerrelle Benimon for his tough play and rebounding. He brings a physical presence under the basket and spark of energy of the bench. Henry Sims keep your head up. You've got talent there's no question. Believe in the system and it will grant you personal success soon. Your number will be called upon to step up big at some point this season.
Furthermore, Coach Thompson III showed why he is one of the premier coaches in the country. His halftime adjustments and ability to keep his players calm although down by 19 at one point shows resiliency. If he can coach the Hoyas to 5-1 in the next 6 games, then their looking golden. It starts with beating a very underrated Seton Hall team this Saturday.
Next Game: Thursday Jan. 14th vs Seton Hall, Verizon Center, 7pm on ESPN