Earlier this month the Hoyas opened Big East play in deflating fashion with two low-scoring losses. Considering how Georgetown is now assertively racking up wins, earlier this month seems like eons ago.
Imagining walk-on John Caprio as key contributor in a victory seemed impossible in any period.
While Otto Porter scored 20 points and Markel Starks had 16, the reserve guard's extended minutes combined with a team-wide defensive mauling highlighted the Hoyas 74-52 romp over Seton Hall on Wednesday night at the Verizon Center.
In winning for the fifth time in six games, the Hoyas (15-4, 5-3 Big East) never trailed, maintained a double-digit lead the entire second half and defensively frazzled the Pirates.
Seton Hall (13-8, 2-6) committed 25 turnovers - 14 in the first half - and shot 32.6 percent from the field. In the six games without Greg Whittington, arguably Georgetown's top defender, the Hoyas have held each opponent under 40 percent shooting from the field and collectively to a 35.9 percent clip.
The truly dominating start to finish performance also served as revenge. Last season the Pirates handed Georgetown its worst loss of the season, 73-55. This game the Hoyas held a 32-point lead.
"I watched our game against them and broke it down probably 10 different times the last couple of days," Hoyas coach John Thompson III said. "We couldn't stop them and we couldn't score. I thought our guys today really executed particularly on the defensive end. Our effort was there, our communication was there."
Thompson may have planned and planned for the Pirates, but said the decision to use Caprio in the first half was spontaneous.
Late in the first half the Hoyas briefly faltered. Seton Hall's 12-3 run -- coming primarily with Porter sitting with two fouls -- pulled the Pirates closer at 23-16 with 4:38 remaining.
Thompson inserted the 6-foot-6 Caprio coming out of a timeout. Direct cause and effect is debatable, but the Hoyas immediately stalled the Pirates momentum with four consecutive points, ended the half on a 9-2 run for a 32-22 lead.
After halftime they extended the lead to 44-24. While the Hoyas were in the process of blowing out the Pirates, a transformer blew in the Chinatown area, dimming the area lights in the arena.
Caprio's initial spotlight stint included a steal, a free throw and an offensive rebound which he deftly turned into a short bank for the Hoyas' final points of the half. The New Jersey native finished with four points and a team-high six rebounds in 12 minutes. The junior entered the game with career numbers of eight points, 13 rebounds and 45 minutes.
"I probably should have been playing Cap more," said Thompson who has expanded his playing rotation in recent games.
Reserve swingman Aaron Bowen played the role of surprise hero for the Hoyas in Saturday's 53-51 win over Louisville. Caprio was simply surprised about playing.
"No I definitely wasn’t expecting it," Caprio said. "Coach is always telling me to be ready to contribute, so that’s what I tried to do today. I hope I did pretty well.”
Explaining his rationale for using Caprio at that stage of the game, Thompson said, "They play a zone and you're not really sure what's coming. Just in terms of understanding how to play basketball, Cap's probably one of our better guys... It was not a fluke, I don't think. I thought we needed him in there to get better flow."
Caprio, who attended Seton Hall Prep, said he "vividly" remembered last year's loss in the Garden State.
“A bunch of my family members were ragging on me last year, so yeah it was good to beat them."
Additional bench production came from freshman D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, who scored 11 points and matched Caprio with six rebounds.
Brian Oliver scored 13 points for the Pirates, who have lost six of seven games.
While the reserves proved helpful, the starter set the tone. Georgetown started the game with a 7-0 run while Seton Hall's opening five possessions included four turnovers and a missed shot. That general trend continued.
"We did everything right in the beginning of the game," Nate Lubick said. The junior forward scored all eight of his points in the first half and his five assists ignited the Hoyas free-flowing offensive attack.
Porter, who may have scored the quietest 20 points ever, has scored at least 17 points in each of the last six games. Though he played only 23 minutes, the versatile forward also had four steals and matched Starks by shooting 6 of 9 from the field.
The Hoyas, who wrap up their three-game homestand Saturday against St. John's, finished 18 of 32 on free throws. Thompson opened the postgame press conference by saying, "Absolutely we have to work on our foul shooting. We may do that tonight."
Maybe they will, maybe they won't. Regardless, the Hoyas have clearly put 0-2 behind them.