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Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III was named Big East Coach of the Year yesterday afternoon. Otto Porter Jr., his sophomore star, was named the Big East Player of the Year in a unanimous vote by league coaches.
The vote comes in Thompson’s most impressive job on the Hilltop since his arrival from Princeton University nine years ago. Thompson overcame the losses of his three top scorers from a season ago in Jason Clark, Henry Sims, and Hollis Thompson. His team also recovered from the academic suspension of second-leading scorer Greg Whittington in early January.
After a torrid start to the season that saw the Hoyas defeat national powerhouses like UCLA and take then No. 1 Indiana to overtime, Thompson’s group struggled through the beginning of the Big East slate, dropping their first two with the wheels falling completely off in a 28-point drubbing to Pittsburgh.
After a couple of more blips in the schedule, though, the Hoyas reeled off 11-straight wins and rose from an unranked afterthought to No. 5 in the nation. On Saturday, Georgetown clinched the No. 1 seed in this week’s Big East Tournament, as well as a share of the regular season title with a thorough 61-39 victory over Syracuse.
Porter has been the catalyst for much of Thompson’s success, taking on a bigger offensive role after Whittington’s untimely exodus. He led the Hoyas in points (16.4), rebounds (7.5), and steals (2.0) per game while gaining traction for national player of the year honors later in the season.
The sophomore do-everything forward’s season culminated with three Big East Player of the Week honors. He was also the only unanimous selection to the All-Big East First Team. Porter has posted 25 games this season with double figures in scoring, with 8 of those games at 20 points or higher.
Porter pulled away from other possible contenders for the Big East Player of the Year honor when he willed the Hoyas to a victory against Syracuse in front of a record-breaking crowd of over 35,000 by scoring a career-high 33 points. This performance also greatly contributed to his selection as one of 25 finalists for the Wooden Award. He would be the first Georgetown player to win the award and only the third Big East player to do so.
Porter along with the rest of Thompson’s squad will be back on the court at Madison Square Garden tomorrow at noon to take on the winner of Cincinnati and Providence, who play at noon today, in the Hoyas’ first game of the Big East Championship.
Photo: Miles Gavin Meng/Georgetown Voice
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A 6-foot-10 imposing figure, John Thompson Jr. does not blend into crowds all that easily. But during his son’s reign over Georgetown’s basketball program, the legendary Thompson has done just that, disappearing in the back-right corner of the press room.
Except on this day, there was a little too much emotion seeping out of Thompson. For the man who essentially started the Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry by declaring the Orange’s former home, Manley Field House, closed in 1980, this final iteration of the team’s Big East rivalry meant a little too much.
And so after his son’s Hoyas dominated the Orange for 40 minutes—with a 61-39 final—he had to interject at the postgame press conference.
“Kiss Syracuse goodbye,” he said with a smile.
“Oh, excuse me,” he added after the laughter died down.
In the storied history of the rivalry, no team had held Jim Boeheim’s Orange to fewer than 40 points. That is, until John Thompson III took a page out of his father’s book and rode his vaunted Georgetown defense to a historic performance—holding Syracuse to just 39 points two weeks after holding them to 46 in a victory at the Carrier Dome.
On that day, Hoya sophomore Otto Porter Jr. burst on the national scene and dominated the Orange with a 33-point performance in front of 35,012 orange-clad fans.
The Verizon Center crowd did their best to counter that effort on Saturday, filing in to the tune of 20,972 people—good for the largest turnout for an indoor sporting event in DC metro area history.
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Well, Georgetown finally had to come down from wonderland. The No. 5 Hoyas (23-5, 13-4 Big East), who hadn’t lost since January 19th in the disaster at South Florida, fell to the giant-killing Villanova Wildcats (19-12, 10-8 Big East) in a scarily exposing performance. The game got the Wildcats off the tournament bubble, greatly solidifying their tournament resume. The Hoyas, on the other hand, fell off the line for a 1 seed, and will have a lot of work to do in order to make their way back. Pertaining to the more immediate future, the Hoyas went from controlling the Big East outright, to, in all likelihood, having to win on Saturday just to finish with a share of the Big East title.
In the 67-57 loss, the Hoyas committed 23 turnovers and only got to the free throw line 8 times while Villanova got to the stripe a whopping 42 times. With the officials blowing the whistle so often, junior center Moses Ayegba, junior guard Markel Starks, and sophomore guard Jabril Trawick all fouled out of the game, while junior forward Nate Lubick, who played all 40 minutes, had 4 fouls. With these factors going so strongly against the Hoyas, Villanova did not need to shut down sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr., who scored 17 points.
Head Coach John Thompson III said, “We’re playing for a championship. That’s something just as important. We were desperate coming into this game, also.”
For the Wildcats, Darrun Hilliard scored 14 points and Ryan Arcidiacono scored 11 while JayVaughn Pinkston had 20. At least half of each player’s points were scored at the free throw line.
This loss made the Hoyas look weak for the first time in almost two months, but will serve as a wake-up call for the team, who now have no more margin for error. Each of the upcoming games between now and the NCAA tournament will be critical in affecting both seeding and momentum for the Hoyas, who, after looking like the best team in the country, suddenly look lost. The Blue and Gray will face Syracuse on Saturday in their final Big East regular season grudge match with not only bragging rights, but also the Big East title on the line. Whether this loss was an isolated event or a turning point for the season is yet to be seen.
File Photo: Andres Rengifo/Georgetown Voice (Mar. 2, 2013, vs. Rutgers)
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After an unbelievable escape at UConn and a close first half against Rutgers last week, the Hoyas (23-4, 13-3 Big East) have risen to the consensus No. 5 spot in the country. Despite their active 11-game winning streak, however, the Hoyas go into Villanova (18-12, 9-8 Big East) tonight as a 1-point underdog. This game, more than any in the season, epitomizes the phrase “trap game.”
With aspirations of winning the Big East title outright, this game may be overlooked, even though the Wildcats have been giant-killers this year, defeating Syracuse, Louisville, and Marquette.
Sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr. has been launched into the national spotlight since his jaw-dropping performance at Syracuse and has not faded since, scoring 22 points, including the game winning layup, at UConn and 28 points against Rutgers. Porter is now the clear favorite for Big East Player of the Year and is in the discussion along with Indiana’s Victor Oladipo and Michigan’s Trey Burke for National Player of the Year.
With this spotlight, Porter is clearly being guarded more closely by opponents, which has led to more foul calls; Porter shot 18 free throws against Rutgers. Freshman guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and junior guard Markel Starks have been the other major offensive producers for the Hoyas, averaging 8.6 and 12.2 points per game, respectively. Since his big defensive performance at the Carrier Dome, junior center Moses Ayegba has been able to keep producing, scoring 4 points and pulling down 7 boards against Rutgers.
For the Wildcats, the key players will be leading scorers, freshman guard Ryan Arcidiacono, who is averaging 12.2 points per game and sophomore forward JayVaughn Pinkston, who is averaging 12.7 points per game. Arcidiacono has had the hot hand recently, averaging 17.8 points over the current five game stretch.
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The No. 7 Georgetown men’s basketball team (23-4, 13-3 Big East) took on Rutgers (13-14, 4-12 Big East) at home Saturday night, bringing in their eleventh win in a row. The first half revealed a close contest as Rutgers did not let the Hoyas pull away with a significant lead, but foul trouble in the second half for the Scarlet Knights would be their undoing. After only leading by 1 point coming into the second half, 16 made free throw attempts would allow the Hoyas to secure a final score of 64-51 over Rutgers.
The stand out performance belonged to none other than sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr., who posted 28 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 steals for the Hoyas. No other Georgetown player would break the double-figure mark in scoring but both junior guard Markel Starks and freshman guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera brought in 9 apiece while junior center Moses Ayegba pulled down 7 rebounds. Ayegba was a strong presence down low in the second half as he helped Georgetown out-rebound Rutgers 35 to 27 in the game.
“Well, I know who I’m voting for for BIG EAST Player of the Year,” said Rutgers Head Coach Mike Rice of Porter in his opening statement.
This matchup was physical throughout as it ended with a total of 51 combined personal fouls for the two teams. Porter alone was sent to the line to take 18 attempts, of which he made 15 and gave Georgetown an offensive boost that was reflected in the final score. With the Rutgers defenders prone to fouling, Porter noticeably took the ball inside more frequently instead of relying on long jumpers.
“That’s the way tonight played out. They were very physical. There were a lot of fouls made during that game at both ends. In the second half, both of us were in the 1-and-1 with 15 minutes left. It’s one of those games that puts pressure on the officials, because when there’s a foul called every possession down the court, then they start looking at the scoreboard,” said Head Coach John Thompson III.
The Hoyas effectively emulated their signature stingy defense as Rutgers struggled mightily to get the ball inside for the better part of the game. Their 54 field goal attempts were a direct effect of tough defense from Georgetown. The Hoyas managed to keep the Scarlet Knights out on the perimeter for the most part while not committing an exorbitant number of fouls. Rutgers only took 15 free throws and, luckily for the Hoyas, only made 6 of those.
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After a thrilling 79-78 double overtime win against Connecticut (19-8, 9-6 Big East), No. 7 Georgetown will look to extend its 10-game winning streak this tonight at Verizon Center when they take on Rutgers (13-13, 4-11 Big East) at 9 p.m. The Hoyas will look to complete the season sweep against the Scarlet Knights, whom they defeated earlier this season 69-63 in Piscataway on February 9.
In that game, the Hoyas were very efficient on the offensive end, shooting 57 percent from the field, including 46 percent from three-point land. Sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr. had a big game for the Hoyas, notching a double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Junior guard Markel Starks led the Hoyas in scoring with 20 points, on 8-of-12 shooting form the field. Sophomore center Mikael Hopkins and freshman guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera also scored in double figures for Georgetown, with 14 and 13 points respectively. Junior forward Nate Lubick was mired in foul trouble for the whole game and did not have much of an impact, scoring no points in only 15 minutes of play before fouling out.
For the Scarlet Knights, sophomore guard Eli Carter exploded for 23 points for the Scarlet Knights in the contest, almost double his season average. Despite Rutgers only shooting 38 percent from the field, Carter managed to keep them in the game as he carried the bulk of the scoring load. No other Rutgers players scored in double figures as the Hoyas managed to contain sophomore guard Myles Mack, Rutgers’ second-leading scorer, to only 9 points.
Rutgers has struggled mightily recently, having lost 9 of their last 10, including their most recent loss to Providence last Saturday 76-72. Barring an anemic performance by Georgetown, there is no reason to believe the Hoyas will be riding high on a 11-game winning streak into their matchup in Philadelphia against Villanova (18-11, 9-7 Big East) on March 6. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU.
File Photo: Abigail Greene/Georgetown Voice (Feb. 20, 2013, vs. DePaul)
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At the end of the Syracuse game, Head Coach John Thompson III said, “We are getting better. We are a very young team. We have used a business-like approach this year.” Coming off one of the most memorable wins in Georgetown basketball history, that “business-like approach” will certainly be tested tonight when No. 7 Georgetown (21-4, 11-3 Big East) takes on Connecticut (19-7, 9-5 Big East) in Storrs, Conn.
By beating Syracuse and snapping the nation’s longest active home winning streak, the Hoyas now have moved into the top ten in the national rankings and into consideration for a one-seed in the NCAA tournament. Georgetown became one of only four schools to be ranked in the top ten in each of the past seven seasons. The Blue and Gray are also now alone atop the Big East rankings.
Sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr. has received buzz as the potential Big East Player of the Year and National Player of the Year. His 33 points against Syracuse was the most points any Georgetown player has ever scored in the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry.
The Huskies are not doing too shabbily either. They have won 4 of their past 5 games including a 66-58 win over then-No. 6 Syracuse. Last Thursday, Connecticut took down Cincinnati (19-9, 7-8 Big East) 73-66 in overtime.
Perhaps the only player in the Big East that arguably had a more impressive seven days than Porter Jr. last week was Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier. Against Cincinnati and DePaul, Napier posted 27 points and 28 points respectively.
There is another similarity between Napier and Porter Jr. Napier is known to affect each aspect of the game. Although only 6’1,’’ Napier is 2nd on the team in rebounds, averaging 4.2 rebounds per game. He also leads the Huskies in assists and steals with 4.6 assists per game and 2 steals per game.
Napier certainly is not Connecticut’s only scoring threat as four players average double figures in points. The most dangerous of those scorers is sophomore guard Ryan Boatwright who averages 15.2 points per game. Boatwright, like Napier, is not simply a scorer. He has recorded 4.3 assists per game and 3 rebounds per game this year.
Georgetown will look to extend its winning streak to 10 games tonight. Will Georgetown’s ascent continue? The game will be broadcast on ESPN at 7 pm. Follow along with @GUVoiceSports.
File Photo: Abigail Greene/Georgetown Voice (Feb. 20, 2013)
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Before Saturday afternoon, Otto Porter Jr. was not a serious contender for National Player of the Year. Things may have changed. On Saturday, No. 11 Georgetown (21-4, 11-3 Big East) pulled out an improbable 57-46 win against No. 8 Syracuse (22-5, 10-4 Big East) in the noisy Carrier Dome on the back of Porter Jr.’s career-high 33 points. With the victory and Marquette’s Saturday night loss, the Hoyas have seized sole possession of first place in the Big East. Georgetown has now won 9 games in a row and 11 of its last 12 games.
“It was special. You saw the show that I saw,” Head Coach John Thompson III said about Porter Jr.’s game. “To play that game up here against that opponent, special players do it.”
The win broke Syracuse’s 38-game home win streak, the longest in the nation, as the game was the final Big East match-up in Syracuse between Syracuse and Georgetown. Porter Jr. shined in front of a Carrier Dome packed with 35,012 Syracuse fans and a smattering of Georgetown fans.
“It’s a good win in a very difficult place to play, against very, very good team,” Thompson said. “Any time you can come up here and win it means a lot. This game, this rivalry means a lot.”
With 4:52 left in the game, sophomore guard Jabril Trawick swung a pass across court to an open Porter Jr. who drilled the three pointer and was fouled. Porter Jr.’s free throw that followed made the score 45-37 Georgetown and swung the momentum back in Georgetown’s favor. The 4-point play halted a threatening Syracuse run that had cut Georgetown’s advantage to 4 points.
“I don’t know how that went in, but it did,” Porter Jr. said. “I was speechless.”
As has become expected of him, the sophomore forward had a full game, contributing in all facets. Porter Jr. recorded 8 rebounds (including 4 offensive rebounds), 5 steals, and 2 assists. The sophomore forward made 12-of-19 shots on the night and 5-of-10 from three-point range.
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In what is clearly the most important rivalry in all of sports, the No. 11 Hoyas (20-4, 10-3 Big East) travel to the Carrier Dome for the last time in Big East play to face the No. 8 Syracuse Orange (22-4, 10-3 Big East) today at 4 p.m. This matchup is not only for bragging rights, but will play a critical role in determining the winner of the Big East title. The Hoyas are tied with Syracuse and Marquette atop the conference standings and have a chance to cut the group to two with a win today.
While Syracuse is the only team that controls its own destiny in winning the conference outrightly, the Hoyas can tie for the top spot by winning out, assuming Marquette does the same. Both teams are going into the game with confidence. The Hoyas, as we know, are riding an 8-ame winning streak, while the Orange have not lost at home in 38 games. The game has sold out, anticipating a crowd of 35,012, the largest ever at any NCAA college basketball game.
The Hoyas are coming in hot, riding their longest winning streak of the season. This run has not been against pushover teams as the seven-game streak in non-conference play was. The Hoyas have beaten Notre Dame, Louisville, Marquette, and Cincinnati and have dismissed the lesser teams in the Big East without drama, something that the Blue and Gray often fail to do as expected. Sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr. and junior guard Markel Starks have produced as expected over the streak, averaging 16.7 and 14.3 points per game, respectively. Porter did not play in much of Wednesday’s game against DePaul, but the offense was still able to move effectively, putting up a season-high 90 points. Most impressive was freshman guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, who scored 33 points, the highest scoring total for Hoya player since Chris Wright scored 34 against Harvard in 2009. Smith-Rivera’s prowess could be a jump start for the Hoya offense that often goes stagnant.
Notable factors for the Orange will be senior guard and leading scorer Brandon Triche, who has scored 14.9 points per game this season, and sophomore guard and bathrobe thief Michael Carter-Williams who has averaged 12.7 points per game and is the team’s leading assist man, averaging 8.2 per game.
With the rivalry coming to an end, the stakes will be even higher than usual. Said Porter Jr. of the game, “It means a lot… For us, with the last game in the Dome, its huge, we definitely want to come out and win. We’re going to be extra focused when we go up there.”
When asked if he would be sad to see the end of the Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry, Head Coach John Thompson III said, “Sad? No. It’s life. Everything is an evolutionary thing.” Sad or not, this game is sure to leave a historical mark in both program and conference history.
File Photo: Miles Gavin Meng/Georgetown Voice (Feb. 20, 2013, vs. DePaul)
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“We’ve always been better than them. We’ll always be better than them.” – Syracuse guard and noted shoplifter Michael Carter-Williams on the No 11. Hoyas.
Tipoff is at 4 p.m. on Saturday from the Carrier Dome in decrepit Syracuse, NY. Kevin Joseph and Keith Levinsky will be covering it live—follow along on Twitter. We will update this post with quotes from the Hoyas later on today.
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