There must be something in the water in the nation’s capital. After a home loss to South Florida, in which Georgetown blew an 11-point second-half lead, the Hoyas responded by rolling over No. 2 Villanova 103-90.
It’s as if they’re Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
“We’re as good as we want to be,” sophomore center Greg Monroe said. “Coach always stresses that in games it’s always about us. Other teams are going to do things, different things are going to happen, but it’s about what we do.”
On Wednesday night the Hoyas couldn’t buy a three-point basket. After going 3-of-6 in the first half, they made just 2-of-10 threes in the second half, both of which came courtesy of junior guard Austin Freeman, who was 4-of-4 on the night. Sophomore guard Jason Clark was a below-average 1-for-4 from beyond the arc.
Fast forward to Saturday and the Hoyas looked like sharp shooters from long range. Freeman was 2-of-5 from downtown and freshman forward Hollis Thompson, who went 0-for-7 from the floor the last time the Hoyas faced the Wildcats, was 1-for-2 from three-point range and 2-for-4 from the field for 12 points off the bench. It was Clark who went off, nailing 6-of-7 threes. More impressively, he matched Scottie Reynolds with 24 points on an afternoon when most expected him to match wits with Reynolds on the defensive end.
“They’re as good as anybody and can beat anybody in the country,” Head Coach Jay Wright said about Georgetown. “When they get all five of those guys clicking – and they always get it going, tonight they just got it going early.”
On Wednesday night, Monroe picked up his second and third fouls early in the second half and the Hoyas fell into a funk and were outscored by South Florida 46-27 from that point on. On Saturday, junior guard Chris Wright picked up his third foul 3:34 into the second half and his fourth a minute later. Instead of crumbling against the guard-heavy Villanova pressure, Freeman and Clark picked up the slack while Wright sat on the bench. Freeman only had one turnover in the second half, and Clark only tallied two while charged with breaking a frenetic Wildcat press.
The play of these two also helped dispel the Chris Wright curse — Georgetown struggles to win when its star guard doesn’t score in double figures. Saturday was just the second win against five losses when Wright ends the day in single digits.
“[Freeman and Clark are] good ballplayers, it’s as simple as that,” Head Coach John Thompson III said. “Villanova is a very good team, that’s stating the obvious. Villanova can hurt you in so many ways.”
On Wednesday when South Florida mounted its comeback, the Hoyas never hit that big shot to stymie the Bulls’ run. Back-to-back Wright and Clark threes in the second half, which would have cut the lead to three, rimmed out, allowing the Bulls to extend their advantage to eight.
On Saturday, ‘Nova came out of the gates in the second half firing. Seven quick points by Reynolds cut the lead to 13, but on the very next possession Freeman hit a pullup to end the Wildcats’ mini-run. Later, three free-throw shots by Reynolds cut it to 13 again, and once again Freeman responded, this time on a layup off a Monroe feed. With 4:13 to play and the Hoyas holding a precarious 11-point lead, junior forward Julian Vaughn responded with a slam dunk and-one to bring the lead back to 14.
“Once we got down we thought, alright let’s wear them out, but I thought [Georgetown] played with great energy and great mental toughness,” Wright said.
On Wednesday night, the Hoyas turned the free-throw line into the pay-to-play line, going an abysmal 11-of-22, including 6-of-14 over the final 10 minutes of play. On Saturday against Villanova, who committed 27 fouls in the first meeting and 38 in the second, the Hoyas went to the line 50 times. Today they took advantage, making 39 of them. Down the stretch, the Hoyas sealed the game from the charity stripe. Back-to-back Taylor King three’s cut the deficit to 10, but Monroe, Vaughn and Thompson combined to sink seven straight free throws. In the final 10 minutes the Hoyas went 21-for-29 from the line.
On Wednesday night the atmosphere at Verizon Center was nothing like days earlier when a sold-out, grayed-out crowd rocked with the President as the Hoyas rolled. Instead, South Florida entered a half-filled Verizon Center with an even more sparsely crowded student section. As Dominique Jones yelled to the crowd and flexed his muscles, his boasts were audible for all to hear.
On Saturday, despite the storm of the century – or Super Storm as the local news was proclaiming – thousands of fans braved the elements to see the Hoyas take on the second-ranked team in the nation. A sold-out Verizon Center only saw 10,387 souls make the trek to Chinatown, but those 10,387 people were into the game from buzzer to buzzer, standing for the majority of the second half.
The much maligned students, many of whom seemingly forgot the Hoyas were playing the Bulls on Wednesday, filled both student sections and the arena with noise and enthusiasm. Making the trek from campus to metro stops across the Key Bridge at Rosslyn, down M Street at Foggy Bottom or by foot all the way to Verizon Center, Georgetown students provided the Hoyas with an energy that they fed off of from the opening tip until the final horn.
When it was all said and done Thompson felt the need to show his appreciation to the students who made the journey, heading up into the student section after the game before heading back to see his team in the locker room.
“We feed off our crowd and to see the effort they made to get down here, we want to thank them,” Thompson said.
“I was very surprised to see them come out,” Clark said of the fans. “I didn’t think there was going to be a lot of people here, but them being here really helps us out and really bring a lot of energy to our play.”
For the second week in a row the Hoyas followed up a poor weekday performance with a sensational weekend win over a Top-10 team — Dr. Jekyll on some nights, cutting apart defenses, Mr. Hyde on others, turning the ball over and missing shots. That is the dilemma that poll voters are faced with. Do they believe in Dr. Jekyll, who smashed Duke and Villanova at home and beat Pittsburgh on the road, or is it Mr. Hyde that shines through, as he did in a blowout loss at Syracuse and a lifeless loss to South Florida.
One thing is for sure — when Dr. Jekyll shows up, the Hoyas are pretty hard to stop.
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