The Georgetown men’s basketball team avenged its one-point loss to Syracuse University on Dec. 8 of last season, defeating the Orange 89-79 at Capital One Arena on Dec. 14. The victory marks Head Coach Patrick Ewing’s (CAS ’85) first win in the rivalry as coach.
The Hoyas (7-3) defeated the Orange (5-5) after a dominant performance by sophomore guard Mac McClung, who tallied 26 points on 7-for-16 shooting from the field and went 9-for-10 from the free throw line.
The win comes amid continued team turmoil last week. After allegations of sexual assault, burglary and harrassment emerged against three members of the team, the university issued a statement Dec. 13 detailing the intention of two of the accused, junior forward Galen Alexander and freshman forward Myron Gardner, to enter the transfer portal.
Following similar departures from Big East All-Freshman Team selects former sophomore guard James Akinjo and former sophomore forward Josh LeBlanc, Georgetown is down to just nine scholarship players in its lineup. After the game, Ewing expressed hope for his team despite its losses.
“Definitely had to go deep in the bench,” Ewing said. “That’s one of the things I spoke about with my guys before the game. We still have enough on our team to have a very good year.”
Eager to prove themselves, the Hoyas got off to a hot start by scoring the first five points of the game. After two points from the free throw line from graduate guard Terrell Allen, Georgetown found itself with a 10-5 advantage.
The Orange quickly battled back behind the play of forward Elijah Hughes, who finished the half with 18 of his 21 points in the game. With 13:44 remaining in the half, Syracuse took its first lead of the game at 16-15.
The Blue and Gray soon regained the lead behind three three-pointers from senior guard Jagan Mosely, junior guard Jahvon Blair, and McClung. The three players accounted for 51 of the Hoyas’ total points in the game and shot a combined 15-for-32 from the floor.
After a technical foul on Syracuse, McClung made three of his four free throws to bring the score to 30-23 with 8:19 left in the opening period. However, with the Hoyas failing to make a field goal in over six minutes down the stretch, the Orange pulled the score within two as the half wound down.
During the final four minutes of the first, McClung dominated the scoring. The sophomore recorded 11 points in Georgetown’s 12-2 run, hitting a buzzer-beating three-pointer that secured a 12-point lead for the Hoyas at the end of the half.
After the game, McClung joked about the shot, stating that his effort was mostly to please Ewing.
“I felt like the last one was going in,” McClung said. “If I make it, [Coach Ewing] can’t get too mad at me.”
Despite shooting about 7% worse from the field than their opponents, the Hoyas managed to get to the line 19 times in the first half while allowing Syracuse to shoot just three attempts.
After returning from the locker room, the two rivals traded baskets for much of the beginning of the second half.
Senior center Omer Yurtseven, who scored just three points in the first half, began to pick up his offensive efforts in the second. He finished the game with 19 points and nine rebounds and, after hitting a jumper to force a Syracuse timeout, Omer led the Hoyas to a 66-53 advantage with 9:36 remaining. Yurtseven also made six of his seven second-half field goal attempts.
Blair added two three-pointers of his own to extend Georgetown’s lead to 15 with just 7:31 left on the clock.
Despite the successful three-point shooting of Syracuse guard Buddy Boeheim, the Orange failed to ever threaten the cushion the Hoyas had built in the first half. After a Yurtseven slam with 3:15 left in the game, the Hoya lead stood at 82-68.
The Blue and Gray’s successful free throw shooting down the stretch allowed the team to cruise to a 10-point victory.
In the win, McClung and Yurteven were aided by Mosely, who finished the game with 16 points, including four-of-six three-point shooting. Allen continued to produce after strong performances against Oklahoma State and SMU with 14 points and six assists against the Orange.
Overall, the Hoyas dominated on the boards, outrebounding the Orange 41-29 and 14-5 on the offensive glass.
With three-straight wins amid the departure of four players, McClung acknowledged the team’s ability to respond to this adversity.
“I think that’s what happens when you face challenges,” McClung said. “You break apart or come together, and I think we’ve come together.”
Georgetown looks to improve its winning streak to four Tuesday, Dec. 17, against the University of Maryland, Baltimore County at Capital One Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. The game will be televised on FS1 and can be heard locally on The Team 980 on 95.9 FM.