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Georgetown Hoyas Rout #4 Villanova Wildcats, 78-58, Vault into First Place in the Big East

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Hoyas Lock Down Wildcats, Scorch the Nets En Route to Upset Blowout

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Georgetown held #4 Villanova scoreless for more than eight first-half minutes while rattling off 17 straight points, blowing open a close game with hot shooting and disciplined defense en route to a 78-58 win. The Hoyas' best performance on the season, particularly on defense, resulted in a blowout win over a top-five opponent, landing Georgetown alone atop the Big East standings.

Things were nip-and-tuck for a while early, as Georgetown struggled to score in the half court but held Villanova in check on defense. On defense, the Hoyas rotated precisely into help positions, closed out just enough to contest opponents' shots but not enough to expose themselves to Villanova drives, and for the most part didn't bite on Villanova's many, many pump fakes.

But then Georgetown started connecting on offense, and the defense hummed right along. The Hoyas scored on nine straight possessions to turn a nail-biter into a blowout, scoring pretty much wherever they wanted to: in transition, on the offensive glass, in the post, from three, and at the charity stripe. Four different Hoyas contributed to the 17-0 run, with Isaac Copeland sparking the run with a put-back dunk, his first points on his way to a career-high 17 points.

The Hoyas continued to pour things on for the rest of the first half, connecting on 60 percent of their shots before the break, while the visiting Wildcats hit just 27 percent of their field goals. Like Copeland, Jabril Trawick (10 points, 3 steals, 2 blocks) followed up Saturday's heroics over Butler with another strong showing Monday. The senior wing buried a pair of threes to fuel Georgetown's continued first-half run, while Aaron Bowen, Paul White, and LJ Peak all found their way to the rim, exploiting transition opportunities off Villanova misses and turnovers.

After the break, things got ugly, if not exactly close. The Georgetown lead swelled to 26 points before the referees became overly concerned about chippy play and began whistling any errant breath. Villanova reacted accordingly, driving at the rim with the sole purpose of drawing fouls, embarrassingly pump-faking and leaning in any and every effort to draw contact, and in general turning the game's latter half into a free-throw shooting exhibition. Some hot shooting from media favorite Ryan Acridiacono made things particularly uncomfortable, but the Hoya defense remained tight. After a few tense minutes when Villanova closed within 12, Georgetown eventually put the game away, appropriately enough, from the free-throw line.

Victory has a thousand fathers, so this blowout should have had many more. Every Hoya contributed to holding Villanova to just 30 percent from the field and 7 of 23 from three. Bowen, Trawick, Copeland, Peak, and White managed to stay in front of their Wildcat opponents, stifling Villanova drives and encouraging contested jumpers. The Hoyas also got their hands in passing lanes, as D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (17 points, 3 steals), Trawick, and Bowen (5 points, 2 steals) all forced multiple turnovers. And Georgetown's bigs avoided foul trouble just well enough, and drew just enough foul trouble on Villanova's front line, to keep that battle even.

On offense, Copeland continued his emergence, scoring in double figures for the second straight game and playing half the game or better for the third straight outing. The freshman forward's confidence seems to have waxed and waned early in the season, but he's been dialed in of late, crashing the offensive glass, hitting mid-range jumpers, putting pressure on the defense as a weak-side cutter, and generally playing with some fire in the belly. Trawick, Smith-Rivera, and White (9 points, 2 three-pointers) contributed just enough outside shooting to space the floor offensively, while Joshua Smith (9 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals) beasted in the post. And Georgetown collectively took advantage of Villanova's over-aggressive defense, apparently employed without any knowledge that previous Big East foes have enjoyed success by packing things in against Georgetown.

Aside from the Xs and Os, Georgetown also played this game with plenty of hard. Barely 48 hours after sleep walking through the first half of an eventually thrilling win over Butler, the Hoyas were locked-in from the tip against Villanova, digging in defensively, pushing the issue on offense, and winning one loose ball after another. Trawick was perhaps the best example of this energy, protecting the rim, jumping the passing lanes, returning to the game even after an inadvertent shot to the head took him out of the game with a swollen eye to block another shot. For a team that has seemed occasionally lethargic, Monday may have been evidence of an awakening.

Georgetown can enjoy this win for a day or two before hitting the road to play Marquette. That game will be yet another test in a Big East slate full of them. But after this statement win, the Hoyas have convinced even the must cynical that they can be up to the challenge.