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NOT SOLD IN STORRS: No. 2 Huskies Hold Off Hoyas, 84-73

Despite a 7-point second half lead, Georgetown fails to upset UConn

Georgetown v Connecticut Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images

With the exam period behind them, your Georgetown Hoyas traveled up to Storrs, Connecticut to take on the 2nd best team in the country in the UConn Huskies. Georgetown opened up as 23.5pt underdogs, which is the largest underdog spread the Hoyas have faced since the Big East was founded in 1979. Despite the long odds, Georgetown put up a strong effort and tested the Huskies more than any other team has so far this season, as this was the first game all year in which UConn trailed at any point in the 2nd half. However, thanks to a deep bench, UConn held off the Georgetown upset and prevailed by 11.

The UConn faithful welcomed Akok Akok (10PTS, 5 REBS) back to Gampel Pavilion with a standing ovation and Akok wasted no time greeting his former teammates and coaches with a corner 3 directly in front of the Husky bench. Over the next several minutes, the teams traded buckets before Akok Akok again said hello to an old friend with a monster block that sent UConn guard Jordan Dawkins (15PTS) to the floor as the Hoyas captilized on the fast break with a Brandon Murray (10PTS, 8TOs) jam. The Huskies had a couple of consecutive turnovers, but Georgetown failed to take advantage of their mistakes and went into the under 12 timeout down 4.

Ewing opted for the full court pressure out of the timeout, but UConn guard, Andre Jackson Jr. (7PTS, 8REBS), made him pay with a wide-open dunk. Play continued to be back and forth with Wahab (16PTS, 9REBS), Heath (10PTS), and Spears (19PTS, 3ASTs, 4TOs) all getting in on the scoring action. Wahab capped off a solid 4 minutes of play with a silky hook shot to give Georgetown a 25-23 lead before an official TV timeout at the 8 minute mark.

Inside the huddle, coach Ewing stressed defensive effort and communication, and while it may have been the right idea, the UConn scoring continued. However, silly mistakes by the Huskies plus strong offensive possessions from Georgetown kept the high-scoring game close. Of note, Andre Jackson Jr. drilled a 3 in front of Coach Ewing but directed some lipservice toward the Hoya bench and was awarded with a technical foul. Headed into the under 4 timeout, Georgetown trailed by 3.

UConn tried to stretch the lead before the end of the first half as Adama Sanogo (14PTS, 7REBS) and Jordan Dawkins knocked down a couple of triples, but Jay Heath alleviated some of the scoring pressure with a 3 of his own. Overall, the first half was a track meet with the Hoyas hanging in there on the offensive side of the ball, as the defense continued to struggle. UConn had knocked down 9 threes and went into the half leading 47-40.

After the break, Georgetown came out with a vengeance. Heath fired up the offense with 5 straight Hoya points. Then, Jackson Jr. committed the first Husky turnover in 13 minutes of game play and Brandon Murray and Primo Spears cashed in on the Husky turnovers with a couple of acrobatic layups to tie the game at 49. After another dud possession from UConn, Primo, ever the play-with-no-fear type of point guard, dropped a dime from half-court to Akok Akok for a flashy alley op, forcing UConn head coach Danny Hurley to burn his 2nd timeout early in the 2nd half.

Out of the timout, the Huskies continued to struggle hoisting 3s to no avail and giving Georgetown extra possessions. Things keep going Georgetown’s way as Sanogo was called for a 3-second violation and Danny Hurley’s less-than-calm response earned him the Huskies’ second technical foul of the evening. By the under-16 minute timeout, Georgetown had traded in their halftime 7 point deficit for a 4 point lead.

UConn tried to quell with the 12-0 Hoya run coming out of the break, but with Gampel Pavilion on its feet, Primo Spears oh-so-coldly buried his patented mid-range jumper to silence the crowd. Bryson Mozone (4PTS) then followed with a mid-ranger jumper of his own to stretch the lead back to 7: 60-53.

Then with 11 minutes left, the game flipped.

Danny Hurley tapped point guard, Joey Calcaterra to come off the bench and Patrick Ewing called on Malcolm Wilson (?). In an inexplicable move, with Georgetown playing their best basketball of the year, beating the #2 team in country, Malcolm Wilson checks in. For those unfamiliar, Wilson played center last year, but was moved to a team manager role this year. Up until this point, he had not been listed on the active roster.

Back to the game, Calcaterra was the spark that lit the UCONN comeback and he wasted no time getting into the action, converting an old fashion 3 point play and then dropping a behind the back pass to the 7’2” C Donovan Clingan who flushed a wide open dunk to send Gampel Pavilion into a frenzy. Ewing tried to quiet the crowd with a timeout, but Georgetown forgot that the first step of answering the Husky run was getting the ball inbounded. Heath turned it over in the full-court pressure, and UConn cashed in an easy layup: part of an 11-0 run in which the Huskies hit 3 straight triples to reclaim a 6 point lead. Ewing had no choice but to call another timeout, using his 2nd and 3rd timeouts in under 2 minutes of play.

But things continued to unravel and Georegtown’s free throw shooting (16-23) did them no favors. Wahab missed a couple of free throws and Murray picked up his 4th personal. Georgetown panicked offensively, throwing up contested jumpers and clanking shots inside the paint. With Gampel Pavilion on its feet, the Huskies pulled away. Calcaterra could not miss hitting yet another 3-pointer and then, in one of the weirdest baskets I have ever seen, used one hand to gracefully deflect a pass toward the hoop in a layup-type-of-way to extend UConn’s lead to 10. The under 4 timeout mercifully brought the chaos to an end with Georgetown trailing by 9 and its bench being outscored 23-9.

Unfortunately, the Hoyas didn’t have another rally in them, and that 7-minute stretch from the under-12 timeout to the under-4 timeout proved to be the difference. UConn completed the comeback and held off the Georgetown upset, winning 84-73.

Georgetown will return to action after the Christmas Holiday, Thursday, 12/29 at 8:00PM, at DePaul, in what may be their best chance to steal a BIG EAST Conference win this season.

Hoya Saxa.