The mark of a good team is how well it responds to adversity. Today, the Georgetown Hoyas continued to show just how good of a team they are. The Hoyas beat Marquette 69-60 with star guard Austin Freeman hobbling through an ankle injury and standout big man Julian Vaughn plagued with foul trouble. Chris Wright picked up Freeman, his senior backcourt mate, scoring 20 points and adding 5 assists in the face of a strong Marquette defensive effort. Henry Sims, the recently announced GUSA Vice President candidate, was able to leave the campaign trail for a bit to secure a Hoyas victory. Sims scored the biggest basket of the game with the Hoyas clinging to a 52-50 lead with 7:07 left in the game. Sims made a pretty drop step move, nailed a layup, fouled out Davante Gardner, and made the and-one free throw. From there the Hoyas never looked back, winning their eighth consecutive Big East battle.
Freeman, obviously hobbled by an ankle injury suffered at the end of the first half, gutted through the second half, scoring crucial baskets when the Hoyas needed them most. He and Wright combined for 37 points, and both continue to make their cases that they belong on the 1st Team All Big East squad at season's end. This season, it has felt like Freeman has finally received the praise he deserves, but Wright continues to fly under the radar. Yet, during this eight game winning streak, he has played his best basketball of his career, affecting games in very different ways and showing how complete a point guard he has become. He has led the Hoyas to victories by scoring (Marquette, Louisville) and distributing (Syracuse, Villanova), while consistently stopping the other team's point guard with his dogged defensive efforts.
This is just getting impressive, more thoughts after El Jump.Today's game was one in which the Hoyas could have very easily packed it in. They missed their first seven 3 point attempts and were getting outhustled and outworked for most of the first half. Freeman, the preseason Big East Player of the Year, went down with the Hoyas trailing by seven. I, like many others, assumed this would be one of those days and just hoped that Freeman's ankle injury wasn't too serious. We'd take a loss and focus on Wednesday's game at UConn. Luckily, fans don't play for the Hoyas, and the players have a bit more resolve than us. Chris Wright put the Hoyas on his back, and Freeman found it in himself to get back on the court and provide an emotional lift in the second half.
What has been so refreshing about this year's team, particularly during this winning streak, is that we are getting great contributions from different players each night. On Wednesday, Julian Vaughn and Markel Starks played phenomenal, while Henry Sims and Nate Lubick looked completely overmatched. Today, Starks didn't impact the game and Vaughn sat in foul trouble throughout, while Sims and Lubick combined for 15 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. On Wednesday, Hollis Thompson knocked down four coldblooded three pointers. Today, he only scored 5 points, but added a career high 12 rebounds.
Georgetown is playing as well as any team in the country right now, getting it done both offensively and defensively. Today, the three point shooting was not good (7-27), but they made up for it by hitting 16-18 free throws. The Hoyas have learned to win games at the line, from beyond the arc, and from inside the paint, with different guys stepping up each night and impacting the game in different ways. In a one and done atmosphere like the NCAA Tournament, this is crucial. Three pointers aren't going to go down every night, but finding other ways to win a gritty game like today will pay dividends in March. Next up for the Hoyas is a date with the reeling UConn Kembas on Wednesday night.
Today was another great day to be great for the Hoyas.