How’s life in the ACC, Mr. Boeheim? Your Georgetown Hoyas continued along to their third consecutive win against major conference opponents today, juicing the rotten Syracuse Orange by a score of 89-79. Head Coach Patrick Ewing was down four players, but the team that took the court today played like a driven, cohesive unit. There was consistent focus and very few mistakes.
Terrell Allen knifed inside the zone defense like he had been busting that set for years, running the offense cleanly and finishing with 14 points & 6 assists. Omer Yurtseven looked flummoxed by being swarmed inside during the first half, but regrouped admirably after the break to tally 19 points, including a pair of memorable dunks. Jagan Mosely is no stranger to having a big game against Syracuse, even when drawing the unenviable task of defending their leading scorer, Elijah Hughes. In addition to locking down the man who lit up Georgia Tech last week, Mosely was everywhere, racking up 7 rebounds and 6 assists to complement his 16 points. Finally, Mac McClung was feeling it today, hitting 9 of 10 from the line (and JWall nods approvingly) while shaking off cold early shooting to score a team-high 26 points.
Out of the tipoff, Allen got the Hoyas on the board first with a smooth jumper, but it was quickly answered by a triple from Hughes at the other end. Given that he was the player that most needed to be stifled, this was concerning. However, making more baskets than your oppoenents cures all ills, and back-to-back threes from Jamorko Pickett and Mosely had Georgetown up 8-3. While Hughes was continued to be a problem and Joey Girard III was draining his first three of the game, the Hoyas were drawing fouls and converting on their freethrows. Crisp, disciplined ball movement under the watchful eye of Allen, combined with accurate, well-selected shots, were key to the early success.
Marek Dolezaj was taking it directly at Yurtseven on the defensive end, and the Georgetown center was being swarmed when he had the ball near the basket, largely neutralizing the 7-footer early in the action. A pair of jumpers and another triple from Hughes, and the Orange had it tied up 15-15 at the 14 minute mark of the first half. Georgetown responded with heavy firepower, including a pair of triples from Mosely and one from the Jahvon Blair Swish Project. At this juncture, one of the early questions about the Hoyas new rotations was answered; George Muresan entered the game for the Hoyas. He acquitted himself well, playing solid straight-up defense on Dolezaj (who made the shot anyway) and passing well within the offensive set.
A triple from McClung and a pair of freethrows from Allen gave the Hoyas their largest lead of the game, up 27-20. The Georgetown defense struggled to shut down Hughes, and Howard Washington Jr. capitalized off of a Yurtseven turnover, but Syracuse was unable to stop the Hoyas without fouling, and McClung & Allen were keeping things even with accuracy from the line.
With 4:56 remaining in the first half, Hughes’ jumper tied it up at 34 apiece — that was the last time Syracuse would get close to the lead. Mac missed a long three, and received a glare from Coach Ewing that might have actually melted some of the ice in the young man’s veins. Foul trouble also seemed like it could have made the team play scared and tip things in favor of the Orange, but that future thankfully did not materialize. Georgetown closed out the half on a 14-2 run, with Mosely and Allen contributing, plus a backdoor layup off a recovered miss from Qudus Wahab and buzzer-beating three from McClung that swept the Hoyas and their fans into the break on an adrenaline high.
Pickett had picked up his third foul late in the first, but he was back on the court at the start of the action after the break. As Bobby Bancroft pointed out, Coach Ewing’s faith was well-founded, as PIckett had only fouled out once before in his college career. After a Dolezaj miss, we saw more patient offense from the Hoyas, as the ball flipped between Wahab, PIckett and Allen, before the transer point guard finally buried a second chance shot. A 14-point advantage provided minimal peace of mind to fans, and the players’ intensity similarly showed no abatement.
Freshman Girard knocked down a three, and Yurtseven answered with a pair of freethrows. When Hughes missed a long transition three, Coach Boeheim indicated his displeasure at his star’s shot selection. At the other end, Mac made a contested three so smooth that the nylon barely shuddered as the ball passed through. The Hoyas stubbornly refused to let the lead drop below double digits. Despite playing with three personal fouls, Yurtseven was beginning to assert himself and learn to work within the Syracuse zone. Battling alongside Pickett in the paint, he was calling for the ball and fighting for every rebound. In one particularly relatable moments for those of us with long hair, Yurtseven’s locks broke free during the course of the action and he was trying to restrain it with a hair tie while maintaining position during a critical offensive set. He prevailed over his coif, and Mac hit another triple.
Allen continued to navigate through the Orange down low and Mosely hit a running jumper as the shot clock expired, while Buddy Boeheim and GIrard were doing their best to keep Cuse close. However, with Hughes largely neutralized and Blair bookending the U8 with a pair of threes, the Hoyas were keeping Syracuse contained. Ahead 75-65 with just under five minutes remaining, Ewing called a timeout, likely to give the guys a breather. Only six Hoyas saw the court during the second half, a situation with which we will likely become familiar as the season continues. Georgetown’s first possession after the whistle saw them successfully breaking the press but failing to convert, but Yurtseven’s jumper the next time down the court brought him into double figures for the day after a cold start.
Terrell Allen reeled backwards into the Syracuse bench trying to defend a 3-point shooter, and was seen exchanging words as he attempted to extricate himself. Video replay indicated that Jalen Carey had tried (with moderate success) to trip Allen, and for this he was sent to the locker room, though no technical foul was assessed. Yurtseven was fully operational at this juncture, finishing through contact in one instance and following soon after with a two-handed dunk.
The Orange gained some ground when McClung was assessed a technical foul for his reaction to a foul whistled against him, and the spawn of Boeheim knocked down another three, but Georgetown calmly regrouped. Mac fired a pass to Yurtseven, who put it away from point blank range. Allen stripped the ball away from Girard, and the Hoyas were officially in clock-burning mode. McClung and Mosely broke the press, but they dribbled it out instead of going for a spectacular play that would take less time off the clock. Boeheim nailed another three before fouling out, at which point he was serenaded with a “Who’s your Daddy?” chant emanating from the student section.
As McClung dribbled and watched the numbers tick down, Coach Ewing — who had only seconds before been firing up the crowd — was savoring his first win over a man who had unsuccessfully recruited him decades earlier. This Georgetown team has experienced a lot of public turmoil in the past few weeks, and likely dealt with even more behind closed doors as four of their teammates elected to transfer. However, the eight players that saw the court today were the best version of a team fans could have asked for.
They played smart, and made few mistakes. They played hard, and didn’t let up. They played to each other’s strengths, and took on whatever role was asked of them. They were the Georgetown that fans love to see, and were cheered on accordingly.
Next up, Georgetown faces UMBC at 6:30pm on Tuesday at Capital One Arena.