The Georgetown men’s basketball team played their strongest game of the season this Thursday in an impressive win against the No. 22 Texas Longhorns in the 2k Empire Classic at Madison Square Garden.
The Hoyas (4-1) held the Longhorns (4-1) to just 6 of 27 shooting from the field in the second half, outscoring their opponent 45-24 in the 82-66 victory. This matchup was the Hoyas’ first game of the season against a ranked opponent and the Hoyas were up to the task.
The Blue and Gray remained even with the Longhorns for much of the first half, with neither team able to pull away in the first 20 minutes. After a turnaround jumper by senior center Omer Yurtseven, the Hoyas would jump out to an early 8-5 lead with 16:35 remaining in the first half. Behind two three-pointers and a monster second-chance dunk, the Longhorns would gain a 13-8 lead of their own just 56 seconds later.
The Hoyas and Longhorns continued to trade baskets and after a stepback jumper by junior forward Jamorko Pickett, who finished the game with an impressive 15 points, the score stood at 19-18 in favor of the Hoyas.
In the early going, the Hoyas were led by strong play yet again from sophomore guard Mac McClung. McClung tallied 11 of his 19 points in the first half, along with two steals and two three-pointers. McClung went on to hit a clutch field goal with 6:23 left, bringing the score to 27-25.
Texas guard Matt Coleman III led the Longhorns with 22 points, 18 of which came from behind the three-point line and helped Texas quickly regain the lead. After sophomore guard James Akinjo hit his first field goal of the night, Georgetown brought the score to 35-34. Outrebounding the Hoyas 20-13 in the first half, Texas would finish the half on a 7-0 run to head into the locker room with a 42-37 advantage.
Facing a deficit heading into halftime, the Hoyas returned to the court with much more energy in the second half. Yurtseven, who only scored two points in the first period, scored Georgetown’s first eight points of the second half. After a three from Pickett, Georgetown took their first lead since the 6:01 mark of the first half, bringing the score to 48-46.
Once the Blue and Gray gained the lead, the team would not look back, scoring 12 unanswered points to gain a 10-point lead while simultaneously holding Texas to zero field goals in over four minutes. To begin the second half, the Hoyas managed to hit 12 of their first 18 field goals and grab 11 of 14 rebounds. After finishing at the basket for two of his 14 points, Akinjo allowed for the Hoyas to maintain a 66-56 lead with just 7:30 left in the game.
Despite Yurtseven fouling out with 5:28 remaining in the game, the Hoyas lead proved insurmountable for the Longhorns. Behind free throw shooting from Akinjo, who made all 10 of his free throw attempts, and tough play on the defensive end in the final few minutes, Georgetown cruised to a 16-point victory, the Hoyas’ best performance so far in this young season.
Head Coach Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85) was visibly energized by his team’s play, as the Hoyas shot 58% from the field while holding the Longhorns to just 22% after the break. The Blue and Gray also improved on its performance down low, scoring 24 points and outrebounding the Longhorns 21-8. On the defensive end, the Hoyas tallied an impressive six blocks and six steals.
After an impressive all-around performance, the Hoyas look to build on their momentum heading into the championship this Friday at 7 p.m. where they will face the No. 1 Duke Blue Devils. The game will be televised on ESPN2 and can be heard locally on The Team 980 on 95.9 FM.