This is it.
This is the Big One.
When: Saturday, 7 PM
Where: Carrier Dome
Series: Syracuse leads 51-44
Last meeting: Patrick Ewing picked up his first coaching win against Syracuse last season, 89-79 behind 26 points from Mac McClung
TV: ESPN (Dave O’Brien & Seth Greenberg)
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, SiriusXM 386, Radio.com (Rich Chvotkin, 47th season)
KenPom Ranking: Syracuse 36, Georgetown 108
KenPom Projection: Syracuse 78, Georgetown 67 (84 percent)
Line: Syracuse -10.5, o/u 146.5
I’m not going to say that a win at Syracuse would by itself equal a successful season, but in this particular season, it would go a long, long way. It would most likely be THE favorable memory of this unusual campaign.
Last year we were able to talk with Jagan Mosely before this matchup and he was focused on getting his career mark to .500 against Syracuse before he left the Hilltop. Mission accomplished for Mosely and now that’s exactly what Jahvon Blair and Jamorko Pickett will try and do.
Coach Patrick Ewing (52-53) dropped to below .500 as a coach in the loss at Butler Wednesday night but he has a chance to get back to even both overall and against Syracuse.
Ewing went 8-3 against the Orange as a player but is 1-2 as a coach after guiding the Hoyas to an 89-79 win last season.
In both losses the Hoyas had double-digit leads before losing. In the first meeting the Hoyas led by as many as 13 while they led by as many as 15 two seasons ago. Veteran college basketball reporter Patrick Stevens put out a thread on twitter going over the trend of Georgetown losing after holding double-digit leads in the Ewing Era. It’s now happened 15 times in Ewing’s 53 losses.
Check out the thread below which had to be updated after Butler:
So I was a bit curious here in the last half-hour about Georgetown's problems with holding leads during the Ewing era, so did a quick box score dive.— Patrick Stevens (@D1scourse) January 3, 2021
On Friday, Ewing began to start to talk about how Pickett had a nice game rebounding against Butler but that he needed to pick it up overall. This eventually morphed into some overall feelings on the team from the head man.
“In order for us to be successful we need for our older guys to step up and get the job done,” Ewing said.
“We can’t afford for any of us to have lackluster performances. We need everyone to step up. For those guys they have to be seniors. For our fifth year guys they have to be fifth year guys and continue to teach our younger guys what it’s like to be a Division 1 Athlete. We’ve showed that we can compete with anybody in the country that we’ve played so far. Our problem is we don’t do it for the whole game. We do it for 37 minutes or for 30 minutes and then we self destruct. It has to stop.”
With so many new players on this year’s Georgetown roster - transfers and freshmen - Ewing had to go over what this rivalry means to him and the program.
“We talked about it with them yesterday,” Ewing said when asked about if his players understood the magnitude of this game.
“We talked about this rivalry goes back to even before when I came here to when coach Orr was playing against us. We definitely put it on their radar. We let them know how big this game is but also we’ve lost four in a row. We have to come out filled with a lot of emotion to get a win up there.”
Here’s Ewing on what Georgetown needs to do AND not do tomorrow if the Hoyas can pick up a big upset on the road.
“When they are set up you have to do an outstanding job of taking care of the ball,” Ewing explained about the Orange zone.
“They play long, arms always out extended. They get deflections, they get turnovers and they turn them into baskets. They are an outstanding 3-point shooting team. We can’t turn the ball over which we have. This has been our Achilles heel all year long. Things we can not do come tomorrow. We have to make great decisions. We can’t just drive in their wildly and throw things up or just make blind passes. We have to make pass fakes to get the pass where we need to be able to get it.”
Syracuse isn’t very intimidating down low this season as Marek Dolezaj has to play some minutes at the five spot. This should be an area where Georgetown should take advantage but it can’t be forced. When that zone collapses, Qudus Wahab has to find the shooters. Outside of Blair and Pickett possibly getting hot from deep, this could be a big moment to shine for Don Carey or, if Ewing gives him a shot early on and he’s hitting, T.J. Berger could become a cult hero in an empty Dome.
Alan Griffin leads the Orange in scoring at 16.4 points per game and is a good three-point shooter. Buddy Boeheim takes a lot of threes (7 per game) but doesn’t make a whole lot (24 percent). Quincy Guerrier also scores 16 points per game and leads Syracuse with 9.4 rebounds per game.
Just like the Hoyas, Syracuse has their own problems holding leads. Pittsburg rallied back from 18 in the Carrier Dome to pick up a 63-60 win during the week.
If you include games against Big East schools and Syracuse, Ewing’s Hoyas are now 7-38 when scoring fewer than 80 points. Yes the players change but that’s a lot of data now. These Hoyas don’t do well in lower scoring games. They just don’t. I gave that stat as my key to the game while on Syracuse radio on Friday.
On today's show with @ESPNRain and @ESPNURMatt, they talk to @MatthewGut21 from @TheAthletic, @Marcel_LJ from ESPN, @BobbyBancroft from @CasualHoya and Syracuse legend @BouieRoosevelt, plus more on this edition of #TheJamesMitsubishiPodcast! https://t.co/HNohNAYdoW— #TheSportsZillaShow (@ESPNSportsZilla) January 8, 2021
THANK YOU CUSE
This will be the first meeting between Georgetown and Syracuse since the passing of John Thompson Jr. This heated rivalry that helped shape the BIG EAST and college basketball’s rise on cable TV wouldn’t have happened if not for Big John. We all know what he did in grabbing the mic and closing Manley Field House but there’s far mroe than that. While he hadn’t coached in 20 years, the Hall of Famer was still involved with the Hoyas program as a mentor and father.
The last Georgetown-Syracuse game to take place without Big John took place on Dec. 12, 1967.
Syracuse put out a tweet honoring John Thompson Jr on Friday.
As we head into Saturday's meeting with an old foe, we do so while honoring and respecting the legacy of Coach John Thompson. pic.twitter.com/fuq103IJSG— Syracuse Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) January 8, 2021
POSSIBLE NEW KICKS TONIGHT?
COUNTDOWN TO 1,000
Not much has changed here since we last checked but Jamorko did pick up a point on Jahvon as Georgetown scored a season low in a loss at Butler.
As it stands now:
Blair 920 (should get there in about 4 games)
Pickett 916 (should get there in about 8 games)
BOBBY’S PREDICTION - Georgetown 82, Syracuse 77. I think Georgetown has at least one big win in them this season. This is it.
Leave your witty (and non-witty) in-game comments here!