Hoyas blow out Syracuse at electric Verizon Center
WASHINGTON -- Georgetown emphatically ended its Big East rivalry against Syracuse, wrapping up the regular-season title by holding the Orange to the lowest scoring output of their time in the conference.
On an afternoon that Otto Porter Jr. didn't make a field goal until the second half, No. 5 Georgetown used stifling defense to close its rivalry against No. 17 Syracuse with a 61-39 victory Saturday.
Porter finished with 10 points, but the national player of the year candidate contributed in plenty of other ways, as usual, with eight rebounds and seven assists.
Markel Starks scored 19, and freshman D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera had 15 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Hoyas (24-5, 14-4), who will be the No. 1 seed at the Big East tournament next week in New York.
Syracuse (23-8, 11-7), which had been hoping for a double-bye in the tournament, was led by Michael Carter-Williams' 17 points.
But the Orange shot only 32 percent from the field, including 1 for 11 on 3-point tries.
When the game ended, fans stormed the court -- even though the favorite won -- and it took a while to clear them away so Georgetown could have a brief ceremony celebrating its title in the last year of the league as it's currently constituted. The Hoyas have won 12 of their last 13 games, including two wins against Syracuse; Porter scored 33 in a victory at the Carrier Dome on Feb. 23. It's the Hoyas' first two-game sweep of a season series over the Orange since 2001-02.
This regular-season finale was the schools' 89th meeting overall (Syracuse leads 48-41) -- but the last time they will face each other as rivals in the Big East. Syracuse is heading to the Atlantic Coast Conference, and Georgetown is part of a group of seven schools splitting away to form a basketball-centric league that will get to keep the Big East name.
Among the announced attendance of 20,972 -- the largest crowd at a Georgetown home game -- were members of Georgetown's past who helped turned games against Syracuse into events: Hoyas coach John Thompson III's father, John Thompson Jr.; Alonzo Mourning and Patrick Ewing.
Sitting in a front-row seat before tipoff, Ewing reminisced about the old days, including when he and the older Thompson took the Hoyas to three NCAA finals and one title in the 1980s.
"When we were here, the Big East was the premier league," Ewing said. "Not the ACC, not any of the other leagues."
By game's end, Hoyas fans were taunting the Orange with chants of "A-C-C!"
Playing in what might have been his final home game -- he has not said whether he'll return to school for his junior year or declare for the NBA draft -- Porter was the center of attention.
When spectators arrived, they found on their seats gray placards with blue type proclaiming, "Player of the Year Otto Porter Jr." During pregame warmups, some fans loudly chanted, "Ot-to! Por-ter!" One person held up a sign reading, "Porter for Pope."
More than 12 minutes into the game, Porter had yet to attempt a shot. But he made his presence felt in other ways at both ends of the court.
On the game's opening possession, he blocked C.J. Fair's runner from behind. He later had a steal. He set the screen that freed up Starks for a 3, part of the junior guard's strong start in which he scored Georgetown's first eight points.
Smith-Rivera scored next eight for the Hoyas.
Porter didn't even try to shoot a field-goal until 7:46 was left in the half, and he missed a 3-pointer from the corner.
It was apt that there would be lots of defense, given the Big East's reputation. Georgetown and Syracuse both allowed opponents under 60 points per game this season, and they showed why Saturday.
With 2 minutes left in the first half, they had combined for more turnovers (14) than field goals (13),
Porter went 0 for 2 from the field in the first half, and his only points came on a pair of free throws with 23.9 seconds left that gave Georgetown its biggest lead until then, 25-18. That was the score at halftime, and the shooting was as shaky as can be: Georgetown made 35 percent of its field-goal tries, Syracuse 28 percent.
At the half, Smith-Rivera had 11 points, Starks eight, and they were 7 for 16 from the field, including 5 for 10 on 3-pointers. The rest of the Hoyas were 1 for 7.
Georgetown extended its lead to a game-high 14 points, at 32-18, less than 1 minutes into the second half. Two free throws by Porter, were followed by -- big shock, right? -- two turnovers by Syracuse that set up a 3 by Starks and a backdoor cut for a layup by Nate Lubick.
Syracuse replied with a 7-0 run to cut its deficit to single digits, but Porter stopped that rally by hitting his first basket of the afternoon, a jumper near the foul line more than 2 minutes into the second half to make it 34-25.
Porter's turnaround jumper in the lane pushed the lead to 43-27 with under 13 minutes left, and another turnaround jumper made it 50-31 with under 8 minutes left. That was pretty much that, as the Hoyas started milking the clock when they had the ball.
When Porter headed to the sideline in the final minute, he and his coach hugged each other.