Georgetown passed and shot and passed its way to its eighth straight win, notching a season high in points en route to a one-sided 90-66 win over visiting DePaul. Four Hoyas scored in double figures, but freshman D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera stole the show, pouring in a career-high 33 points and helping blow open a game that the Blue Demons kept respectable for the better part of a half. The comfortable margin after intermission allowed Georgetown fans to think about bigger issues, like how far the Hoyas can take this win streak, whether they can pull off the win at Syracuse on Saturday, and what happened to Hoya star Otto Porter.
Last item first: Porter twisted his knee about midway through the first half, getting caught in a mess of players after teammate Jabril Trawick drew a charge on DePaul guard Worrel Clahar. Porter came up in obvious pain that was pretty obviously not extreme, and continued to play after the incident. Although he suffered through an off shooting night, Porter was otherwise effective, and even after a short trip to the locker room during the second half spent the duration of the game on the bench, with a sleeve on his knee. After the game, JTIII reportedly seemed optimistic on his star player's condition.
If Otto's knee is indeed okay, then Wednesday may have been a blessing in disguise, as it gave a Hoya offense that had been at times overly dependent on Porter a chance to find its way without him. Also giving the Hoya offense plenty of chances was the DePaul defense, which was non-existent. The Blue Demons' offense kept things close, at one point scoring on five straight possessions. But they couldn't--and at some points didn't try to--stop the Georgetown attack. As it happened, the Hoya offense, once beleaguered and seemingly satisfied to reach 50, did DePaul two better by scoring on seven straight possessions. That set the tone for Georgetown's hot-shooting night, which resulted in 63.5 percent shooting by the Hoyas and 22 assists.
Smith-Rivera was the obvious story line. He was typically opportunistic early on, hitting a 3, converting a nifty pass from Moses Ayegba, hitting a step-back baseline jumper, and canning a floater in the lane. But his first-half output was incremental, and plenty of other Hoyas got in on the act as well. Trawick, who finished with 13 points, 2 steals, and 2 blocks, scored in ways nearly as diverse as DSR, including an open 3, a drive to the rim capped with a powerful spin move, and a pair of transition lay-ins. Both of those latter opportunities came courtesy of Markel Starks who, rather than hunting his own shot, spent much of the night setting up others, finishing with 7 assists. When he wasn't setting up Trawick, Starks found an open Nate Lubick, who frequently beat a lax DePaul transition defense down the middle of the floor en route to 15 points and 8 rebounds.
Each of those Hoyas contributed to a 15-4 that took Georgetown into the half up 14 points. Things only got better after the break. A quick Porter post and a Starks-fed Lubick lay-in staved off any Blue Demon comeback dreams. Then DSR really went to work, first with a nifty double-pump lay-in, then with a pair of threes that pushed the lead to 19. Two Starks-assisted Lubick lay-ins (are those patented yet?) sandwiched around a Markel triple pushed the lead to 24, putting the game out of reach.
After that, the remaining drama largely concerned how many points DSR would score, whether the Hoyas would cover, whether our season was screwed because of Otto's knee, and how many Aaron Bowen .gifs we'd get out of this night. The answers were 33, yes, probably not, and probably 2, respectively. Smith-Rivera's output was the most by a freshman under JTIII and just one short of the overall record under JTIII (Chris Wright, Harvard, Linsanity!) and of Victor Page's overall freshman record. After struggling to find his shot for much of the year, Smith-Rivera has settled in a bit of late, hitting 13 of his past 25 shots before tonight's 10-of-12 eruption.
Porter's tender knee gave JTIII need for warm bodies on the wing, leading to extra run for Bowen (12 minutes, his most since Louisville) and Stephen Domingo (11, most in conference play). The freshman looked a bit jumpy but better than his very tentative recent performances. Bowen played with his characteristic manic energy, committing a silly travel but then more than redeeming himself with two highlight-worthy dunks in the closing minute, the latter a reverse that Bowen allowed himself to enjoy by hanging on the rim for an extra second. It was a fitting end to a win that, save for lingering concerns about Otto's knee, was thoroughly enjoyable.
Tonight, your Hoyas also handled the immediate task, avoiding a trap and putting away a winnable game early. Saturday won't be so easy. Syracuse took care of business Wednesday as well, running Providence out of the Carrier Dome and keeping pace with Georgetown and Marquette atop the Big East standings. That lofty perch, the Hoyas' winning streak, and the bad blood of a longstanding rivalry all will be on the line as the Hoyas enter hostile territory. Tonight, Georgetown can savor the win. Tomorrow, it's back to business.