Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh that’s Georgetown basketball baby hhheeeeelllll yeah
— jeff (@unclejeffgreen) January 5, 2012
The No. 9 Georgetown Hoyas (13-1, 3-0 Big East) notched another huge victory tonight, coming back from 14 down at halftime to defeat No. 20 Marquette (12-3, 1-1 Big East) with a frenetic effort in the closing minutes. Junior Hollis Thompson sat for most of the second half, but entered and responded with three clutch shots to complete the astonishing Hoya comeback. He finished with 16 points and senior Henry Sims contributed 13 of his own to go alongside a strong defensive effort. Fellow senior Jason Clark steadied the Hoyas throughout the game, keeping them in the game almost singlehandedly at times while putting up 26 points.
After a promising start to the game, things quickly spiraled out of control for Georgetown. The Hoyas trailed by 17 with 13 minutes left in the second half, a seemingly insurmountable margin considering their ineffectiveness at both ends of the court. At that point, Georgetown’s five consisted of Clark along with four freshmen–Otto Porter, Jabril Trawick, Greg Whittington, and Mikael Hopkins.
For many teams, putting that much inexperience on the floor at such a crucial moment might look like a white flag. Georgetown’s freshmen, however, have shown a precocious ability to handle the pressures of Big East basketball, and they rewarded head coach John Thompson III’s faith in them yet again.
The first signs of life came when Clark hit a three-pointer, followed seconds later by Trawick swiping a Marquette pass and feeding Hopkins for a fast break layup. From there, it was a slow and steady march back to even, made possible by a revitalized Hoya defense. After spending much of the game in a porous 2-3 zone, Georgetown employed a suffocating man-to-man defense. The key was the length (not to mention the tenacious effort) of the freshmen, in particular Whittington, who locked down Marquette’s Darius Johnson-Odom (only five of his 18 points came in the second half) and secured a steal with just over two minutes remaining that led to the Hoyas’ first lead of the second half.
“We were just rolling,” Hollis Thompson said of watching Clark work with the four freshmen. “They couldn’t score. I don’t know how long it was but it felt like they couldn’t get a basket for a long time.”
Of course, there could be no comeback unless the Hoyas started hitting shots. They did so with ease in the second half, shooting 76.2 percent from the field and missing just two field goals the rest of the way after going down by 17. (Georgetown’s shooting from the free throw line was a different story–the Hoyas were an abysmal 13-for-23 from the stripe.) While the freshmen were the key on defense, it was the upperclassmen who took control on the offensive end.