Take us to your Iron Horse! Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE
Georgetown did exactly what its impassioned, grayed-out fans (and innumerable casualties) hoped on Saturday, smothering Villanova from the tip and never trailing en route to a 67-46 victory. The win was essential for the Hoyas to keep pace in an increasingly tight Big East race and to ensure a proper level of post-game jubilation at Third Annual Casual Extravaganza (#CXIII). And the men in gray recognized the game's import, using a variety of defensive looks to build an early seventeen-point margin. Some pre-half sloppiness was erased after intermission, when the Hoyas dominated the glass and again put on the clamps defensively, putting away a game that scarcely was in doubt. Otto Porter--filling in for Markel Starks, who dressed but did not play--and Jason Clark scored 15 apiece, leading four Hoyas in double figures.
More Hoya fun after the jump.
The Hoyas jumped on a hobbled Villanova squad from the tip, swarming the Wildcats in the half court while occasionally mixing in full-court pressure. The Wildcats were without starting guard James Bell and had little help from stars Maalik Wayns and JayVaughn Pinkston, the latter of whom turned an ankle falling on a ball in warm-ups and was ineffective in limited action. Against a spirited Hoya defense, the leftover visitors could do little offensively, managing just a pair of baskets over the first nine-plus minutes amid a flurry of early turnovers. Georgetown racked up the game's first six points, in part thanks to a flagrant Maurice Sutton elbow on Porter. Otto came right back, as he and Clark each proceeded to score in a variety of ways as the Hoya lead swelled to 25-8 with under six minutes remaining in the half.
Georgetown let up a bit defensively and got careless offensively, allowing Villanova to open up the court and close the gap quickly. Unforced Hoya errors and transition Wildcat baskets made it a four-point game just before the half. Just as visions of Howard and Providence were dancing through Hoya fans' minds, Porter hit a three to make the margin seven at the break. The teams traded baskets for the first several minutes after intermission, and Georgetown led by just seven with 14 minutes remaining.
As has been this team's calling card all season, the Hoya defense again took hold, limiting the Wildcats without a field goal over an eleven minute stretch that was emblematic of a game in which the Wildcats shot just 29 percent from the field. Meanwhile, Henry Sims (12 points, 6 rebounds), Hollis Thompson (10 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists), and the offensive glass (6 offensive rebounds during Villanova's second-half basket-less stretch) all contributed just enough for the Hoyas to put the game away. An eventual 21-6 stretch allowed for several minutes of late-game jubilation, featuring "WE ARE GEORGETOWN!" chants from the student section and the blowout-certifying Aaron Bowen basket and John Caprio appearance.
Of course, this win was important for the Hoyas' standing in the conference. Notre Dame lost Saturday to fall within one game of Georgetown; those teams will meet Monday, the day after a showdown between Cincinnati and South Florida, both of which are tied with the Hoyas in the loss column. With important games on the horizon, and after turning in a rare stinker earlier in the week, the win also was also important psychologically as a return to form. Once again, the Hoyas used their defense to shut down an opponent, their sixth Big East win holding an opponent to 50 points or fewer. And Georgetown was solid offensively, spreading the wealth while taking what was given to it.
JTIII was mum post-game on whether Starks's benching resulted from the mid-week embarrassment at Seton Hall (though the Twitterverse led me to an anecdote allowing for that inference) or whether the sophomore would play Monday. Whatever the reason, or the extent of the apparent punishment, Georgetown played ably Saturday with Porter excelling as a starter and Jabril Trawick running the floor smoothly in reserve.
There's little rest for the weary, as the Hoyas' clash with the Irish, their fourth game in eleven days, follows barely forty-eight hours after the conclusion of this win. But we can worry about that monumental showdown tomorrow, not to mention any lingering effects of today's revelry. In the meantime, enjoy CXIII!