Games That Matter – March 10, 2010 (BET Quarterfinals)
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ESPN / USA Today: 22
Georgetown 69, South Florida 49
Balanced scoring and aggressive defense propelled the Hoyas to a convincing victory over the pesky Bulls on Wednesday afternoon at the Garden. Behind strong performances from Chris Wright (15 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 0 turnovers), Jason Clark (16 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals), and Greg Monroe (16 points, 8 rebounds), Georgetown raced out to an early 12 point lead, withstood a brief USF run at the beginning of the second half, and then cruised to a solid win in the last 8 minutes of the game.
Without question, the biggest reason for today’s win was our defense. Georgetown held South Florida to 29% shooting from the floor, including 1 of 10 from three-point range, and picked up 7 steals. Constantly switching from man to zone, the Hoyas kept Dominique Jones under control for most of the game and, more importantly, did not allow any other South Florida player to reach double figures. The halftime numbers were telling. South Florida only scored 19 points as a result of a prolonged 8 minute drought midway through the half. USF players not named Jones combined for 7 of these points.
After today’s nice payback victory, the Hoyas will once again look to exact some measure of revenge – only this time, the opponent is just a tad more talented.
Some quick-hitters on Wednesday’s second round win:
- The refs were just awful in this game. Monroe’s second, third and fourth fouls were a joke (especially the fourth). Vaughn fouled out with ten minutes to go. Wright and Hollis each played with four fouls for short stretches in the second half. I love when JTIII goes offense/defense midway through the second half – it really tells you something about our depth. On the bright side, I guess we should thank the refs for (1) missing Hank Sims’ blatant goaltending, and (2) allowing some of our players, especially Vaughn, to relax on the sidelines and get rested up before tomorrow’s big game.
- On a day when Austin was out of sync and Greg and Julian were in foul trouble, Chris Wright was the difference-maker. From the very start, he was aggressive, he penetrated whenever he saw an opening, he hit a number of shots from the perimeter, and most importantly, he never forced anything. He looked more like a point guard in this game than he has at any other time this season. He was the floor general: breaking the press, pushing the ball when Georgetown had opportunities, and slowing things down when the Hoyas started pulling ahead. What’s most impressive is that in 35 minutes of action he didn’t commit a single turnover. Well done, C Wright. Well done.
- Our defense in the last two games has been phenomenal. Reminds me of our defense from 2006-07. Kudos to Clark for staying in front of Dominique Jones and really limiting his production in the first half. Clark had one of his most complete games of the season.
- Here’s a quote from today’s espn.com recap: "Even when the Hoyas' only legitimate inside threat, Julian Vaughn, fouled out with about 9 minutes remaining, the Bulls couldn't sustain a run. The lead swelled to 20 as a small contingent of sleepy fans began chanting "Let's Go Hoyas" -- no doubt unaccustomed to the early start that comes with being a high seed in the Big East tournament." Who the hell wrote that paragraph – an intern? Since when is Julian our "only legitimate inside threat"? And why is there a need to pick on the "sleepy" Georgetown fans who are "unaccustomed to the early start that comes with being a high seed" in the BET? First of all, the Georgetown fans clearly outnumbered the USF fans (obviously – I mean, it doesn’t make any sense, at least geographically, for South Florida to even be in the conference). Second, I think we know what it’s like to play noon games in the BET. We played at the same time when were a #1 seed and we’ll play again as a #8 seed. I’m not even sure what the sentence is supposed to mean. Someone should fire the intern who wrote this.
- "Vaughn may have been happy to take a seat on the bench even with plenty of time left. After a timeout in the first half, the 6-foot-9 junior walked over to a bucket sitting courtside and promptly vomited. Vaughn didn't even bother to get a drink of water, wiping his face on his jersey and heading back onto the court moments later." What? Did they even show this on TV? I was at the game, so I wasn’t exactly paying attention to Julian’s sideline behavior. This paragraph leads me to two conclusions: (1) Julian is sick. I wonder if he has the flu. (2) Julian is bulimic. (3) Julian is the man. I love the attitude. Vomit, wipe your face, turn down water, and get back out there. It’s the Big East Tournament.
Preview of Thursday's Game: Georgetown v. Syracuse, 12pm
It’s time. We wanted another shot and now we have it. After two bad losses to Syracuse earlier this year (one frustrating, one heartbreaking), we’ll get another chance. February 18 was (likely) the only time all year that we lost to an opponent when our Big Three scored at least 20 points apiece. It really says something about how good Syracuse is. It also tells you something about how bad the rest of our team played that cruel night at the Phone Booth. Julian Vaughn was held scoreless. Our bench contributed a pathetic two points (thanks to Hank). We just fell too far behind and couldn’t get over the hump in the closing minutes of the game. Tomorrow at the Garden, it’s payback time.
Georgetown and Syracuse are 6-6 against each other in the Big East Tourney. The last time Georgetown defeated Syracuse (I think) was in 2000 (ironically, when the #9 seeded Hoyas defeated the #1 seeded Orange). This time around, Syracuse is coming off a frustrating loss to Louisville and will be seeking to right the ship in advance of the NCAA Tourney next week. Win or lose, the Orange are a lock for a #1 seed. The Hoyas, on the other hand, will be seeded anywhere between a #6 seed (unlikely, but could happen) and a #2 seed (if we man up and win the whole damn thing).
One of the biggest obstacles tomorrow will be the crowd. Syracuse locked up the #1 seed two weeks ago and its fans purchased tickets well in advance of the Tourney. Syracuse fans always travel well, and that is especially true whenever the Orange play at the Garden. Syracuse fans will be everywhere tomorrow. To avoid a Syracuse South situation, I urge all of you to find a way to get to the game. Beg, borrow and deal. Go on craigslist and buy some overpriced tickets from overconfident Cuse fans who would rather make some money and skip the quarterfinals. Better yet, buy $55 tickets for Saturday’s championship game from the Hoya Hoop Club and trade them to a Cuse fan for Session 5 tickets. Get to the game! No matter what it takes. I already have my tickets. I can’t wait. If you find yourself outside the Garden, trying to identify where to purchase tickets, the Syracuse fans are easy to spot. They’re fat. They look like pumpkins.
Keys to the Game:
1. Roughing up Rautins: Rautins is clearly Syracuse’s most important player. I know Wes Johnson is the most talented player, but Rautins is the most important. He’s the catalyst at the top of the Orange zone and he’s also the most consistent shooter and distributor on the team. He needs to be stopped. The last time he faced the Hoyas, he scored a season-high 26 points and pulled down 7 boards. We have to limit turnovers, prevent Rautins from leading the break, and force Rautins to shoot with one or two hands in his face. Jason Clark did a nice job defending Jones. Tomorrow, he needs to do the same against Rautins. Fun fact: did you know that Andy Rautins is the son of former Syracuse star Leo Rautins? Wow. I’m so happy tomorrow could be the last time we ever have to hear that again. I hope Julian vomits on him.
2. Limiting Turnovers: It’s easier said than done. We only committed ten turnovers in our February matchup, though Monroe had 5 turnovers and Clark had 4. We need to be equally careful with the basketball tomorrow. Syracuse thrives on deflections and steals at the top of their zone – Rautins, Jardine and Joseph love to push the ball and score in transition as often as possible. Wright and Clark need to be smart. Limit the turnovers and prevent fast breaks. I think we can do it.
3. The Foul Situation: Both of our games against ‘Cuse were heavily influenced by fouls. Monroe was limited in both games, particularly the first. Wright picked up 4 fouls in the second game and Clark fouled out. For Syracuse, Onuaku only played 13 minutes before fouling out, and Rick Jackson fouled out late in that game too. Both teams play only 7 guys regularly, so any foul is a big foul. In the first 10 minutes, we should know whether Georgetown has a legitimate chance. If Monroe and Vaughn are in foul trouble early, we’re in trouble. On the other hand, if Onuaku, Jackson and/or Rautins pick up quick fouls, Syracuse will struggle. Georgetown’s bigs need to be careful in this one.
4. Austin: We need Austin in this game. Part of me is happy that Austin picked today’s game to have a sub-par performance. We’ll need all of him and more tomorrow afternoon. We need his penetration, his outside touch and his smart passing. Bring it back, Austin. Lead your team.
5. #10: Remember when we clawed all the way back from a 20+ point deficit against Syracuse with under 12 minutes to go? Remember how we did that? Throw the ball to #10 and let him go to work. Onuaku and Jackson can’t guard him. Greg is the best center in the conference. Give him the damn ball and force Syracuse to make adjustments. Don’t wait until the second half to turn on the switch. Give it to Greg early and often.
I don’t like Syracuse. I was hoping we’d get another chance to beat them sometime in the BET. I just didn’t expect this opportunity to come so soon. As annoying as it is to have to play ‘Cuse on Thursday instead of on Friday or Saturday, just remember this: as unhappy as we may be with our path to the championship, Syracuse is even more worried. A #1 seed has to go through Georgetown, ‘Nova and WVU? Ouch. So let them be scared.
On February 18, we battled hard and fell just one or two possessions short of pulling off what would have been a monumental comeback victory. Although we lost, we sent a very important message to the Orange: we can beat you. We may not be a fancy #1 seed. We may not be the Louisville Cardinals (which somehow beat ‘Cuse twice). And we may not even be the better team this year. But come tomorrow, none of that matters. We’re Georgetown, and when Georgetown plays Syracuse, the stats and the seedings and the standings are irrelevant. When Georgetown plays Syracuse, everyone watches.
If Syracuse wants to win the BET, it will have to get through Georgetown a third time. Let them try.
We’ll be waiting.
Let's go Hoyas. Beat Syracuse.