SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Touting its highest ranking since February of 2008, Georgetown burst into Syracuse like it was shot out of a cannon. After 40 minutes of sloppy basketball, the Hoyas stumbled out of the Carrier Dome with their worst loss of the year.
Despite a 14-0 start from No. 7 Georgetown (15-4, 6-3 Big East), No. 4 Syracuse (20-1, 7-1) quickly took control of the game and ran away with a 73-56 win at home.
“We had one of – if not our worst – game[s] of the year,” Head Coach John Thompson III said. “You can’t come up here and do that against [Syracuse]. We never got into a rhythm in terms of establishing what we wanted to do.”
The Hoyas could do no wrong in the first three minutes. Junior guard Austin Freeman hit three three-pointers, and the Georgetown defense forced two turnovers and three missed shots.
A layup from sophomore center Greg Monroe and a three from sophomore guard Jason Clark put the Hoyas up 14-0 just 2:51 into the game.
From there, Syracuse increased the defensive pressure out of its 2-3 zone and forced the Hoyas into 10 first-half turnovers.
“We weren’t defending, and they hit some open shots. You can’t give Georgetown open shots,” Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim said of his team’s slow start. “We got more aggressive and trapped a couple of passes.”
Led by a pair of sophomore reserves – forward Kris Joseph and guard Scoop Jardine – the Orange offense got on track as well. The duo combined for 18 first-half points as Syracuse quickly cut into Georgetown’s lead.
Six straight points from Jardine brought the Orange within two at the 8:22 mark, and they closed the half on an 11-0 run to take a 34-29 advantage. Two free throws by junior forward Wes Johnson gave Syracuse a 30-29 lead, and the Orange never looked back.
“To go into halftime ahead was unbelievable [given] the way we started the game,” Boeheim said. “To dominate a top-10 team in the country after giving them 14 points is quite an effort.”
onroe struggled as the Syracuse zone collapsed around him. Following three-straight double-doubles, the center fouled out with eight points, four rebounds and six turnovers.
“We wanted to get penetration into the zone either off the pass or off the dribble. Consistently we didn’t get that,” Thompson said. “We were just working the ball around the horn.”
When Georgetown did get inside, it struggled to score against the taller Syracuse defenders. The 6-foot-7 Johnson and 6-foot-9 junior forward Rick Jackson combined for seven blocks, and the Orange outscored the Hoyas 36-22 in the paint.
The Hoyas’ top two scorers, Freeman (23 points) and Clark (15), were both 4-of-7 from beyond the arc, but junior point guard Chris Wright missed all six of his three-point attempts. Georgetown was 3-of-11 from beyond the arc in the second half.
Wright, who finished with seven assists, found Freeman on a give-and-go for a dunk that brought the Hoyas within four points at the 17:52 mark in the second half, but two Georgetown turnovers allowed Syracuse to build its lead to 10 points a minute and a half later.
The Orange led by double digits for much of the second half and were up by 20 late in the game.
Despite shooting 2-of-8 from the field, senior guard Andy Rautins was tremendous for Syracuse. He finished with a team-high 15 points – he was 9-of-10 from the free throw line – and added six assists and six steals.
Joseph had 15 points as well, and Johnson scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
Although Thompson said the noise from the Syracuse fans was not a factor for his players, Boeheim praised the 26,508 in attendance for the boost they gave his team.
“I’ve never seen so many students here. The whole crowd was great,” the coach said before throwing in a joke. “They didn’t help too much in that first four minutes.”
Georgetown now must prepare for its second-straight top-10 opponent and fourth in its last five games. The No. 8 Duke Blue Devils will visit Washington, D.C., on Saturday for the Hoyas’ final non-conference tilt of the regular season.
Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. at Verizon Center.
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